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Business continuity/disaster recovery jobs and career strategies

DR and BC professionals looking for work face tough challenges in this economy. Two BC/DR recruiters offer advice about what to do and what not to do when looking for work.

disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) professionals looking for work face many challenges right now. Currently in the U.S. there are many highly qualified -- but jobless -- professionals. This article explores career strategies that will help BC/DR professionals and advice for finding disaster recovery jobs. Learn about the three things you can do to help your disaster recovery career, and the three worst things you can do when looking for work as a DR or BC professional.

Cheyene Haase of BC Management (U.S.) and Hugo Brown of Barclay Simpson (U.K.) are two leading BC/DR recruiters. They offer their unique insights about securing work in the disaster recovery and business continuity workforce. I have also offered my own personal tips.

What are the three best things you can do to boost your chances of securing disaster recovery and business continuity work?

Haase: Network with current and past associates; keep your credentials and expertise polished and up to date and think outside the box when approaching potential employers.

Brown: Continually work on your ability to build relationships and influence without being pushy. Concentrate on career progression so that your CV looks like you are going somewhere; keep up your professional development and involvement with professional memberships and have a good CV that is simple, honest and clear.

Author response: Use social web sites such as LinkedIn, BCMIX, Twitter, Facebook and others. Their reach may be significant. Seek out situations where you can generate visibility of your name, such as participation in committees and running for election in professional groups. Use Internet search engines to identify business continuity/disaster recovery contracts and full-time opportunities.

What are the three worst things you can do to kill your chances of getting BC/DR work?

Haase: The inability to handle rejection is the worst. It is one thing to inquire "professionally" as to the skills you lacked for getting the job. Don't assume that you were unfairly rejected for the job. This will only discourage the person from assisting you with future job searches. Hiring managers and HR professionals do not enjoy rejecting candidates. Appearing desperate is another no-no. It's acceptable to check in every one to two weeks through the process or a few days after feedback was supposed to be provided. Lastly, never lie about professional certifications, work history, accomplishments or previous responsibilities.

Brown: Over-diversifying your experience, e.g., switching from IT security to operational risk to business continuity management (BCM) to systems management, may be an issue. Don't lose interest and passion for the subject; don't assume you are better than most and assume others think so as well. If your CV is such that reviewers cannot quickly understand your level of experience and what you are doing right now, your CV may not get the attention it deserves.

Author response: If you're currently out of work -- forgetting that your full-time job is getting your next job, and acting and planning accordingly to get another job can significantly reduce your chances of getting another business continuity/disaster recovery job. Also, falsifying your credentials is something you should never do.

What can you suggest to boost your chances of getting BC/DR work overseas? 

Haase: Getting work overseas is a challenge at the moment because every country is suffering under the current economic environment. Many companies are pressured to hire candidates who are citizens of the local country. There are some exceptions, though. Candidates who have an interest in a country must show their commitment to that location in making trips to the country and personally meeting with BCM professionals there. These contacts can assist with your job search further and answer any questions you might have.

Brown: Network globally and build a good reputation in the areas in which you are interested; understand the visa process; and be very proactive in finding suitable vacancies.

Author response: Some countries have an abundance of local talent, such as the U.K., so the chances of securing work may be more difficult, unless you have unique skills or are working on specialized activities. Travel overseas if possible; get in front of recruiters and let them get to know you. It's much harder to establish overseas relationships when everything is by email or phone. Participation in international organizations such as the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) can increase your global network.

Even if you have business continuity/disaster recovery accreditation, and still cannot find work, what other professions or activities could you pursue that can leverage your BC/DR expertise? 

Haase: It's very important to keep your name active and visible in the BCM community. Companies tend to gravitate towards leaders. Writing articles and giving presentations at industry events/meetings can increase your presence. It is also important to review and improve your current skills. Your personal brand and expertise are much more than just being certified. But being certified should never be devalued, of course. The majority of companies require certification when hiring new personnel.

Brown: Arrange for public speaking opportunities, attendance at networking events and write articles.

Author response: Consider getting involved in organizations whose activities incorporate business continuity management, such as the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) and Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). By joining these groups, and seeking situations where your business continuity/disaster recovery management expertise can help other members, you can generate new opportunities. Also, consider getting certifications in BC/DR, such as the CISSP (information security) and CISA (IT auditing). You can effectively expand your opportunities by expanding your credentials.

If all else fails, and it seems to be virtually impossible to get BC/DR work, despite extensive networking, use of search firms, and all types of outreach efforts, what would you suggest? 

Haase: Remain positive and keep doing what you're doing. Many professionals are struggling during these tough times. As it pertains to your career search, it is important to wipe the slate clean every day. Always look for the new jobs, always network, continue to brush up on your skills and be strategic.

Brown: This of course depends on the individual. For most, I would say keep at it and wait for that opportunity. If you are good you will be hired. Some people will struggle more than others, but that's just life.

Author Response: If possible, take a day or two off to clear your mind of job searches, networking, interviews and resumes. With a crowded and stressed mind you may not be at your best, so it may be worthwhile to regroup, recharge and refocus your energy.

Clearly it's a difficult time for anyone in the BCM and related professions. Disaster recovery jobs are scarce, consulting projects -- domestic and international -- are hard to find, and non-work-related activities are even more difficult to secure. If followed with a positive attitude, the strategies and advice in this article from leading business continuity/disaster recovery recruiting professionals are bound to help you succeed while the economy recovers.

About this author: Paul Kirvan, CISA, CSSP, FBCI, CBCP, has more than 20 years experience in business continuity management as a consultant, author and educator. He is also secretary of the Business Continuity Institute USA Chapter.

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