The new financial year has ushered-in a fresh hiring spree at domestic spy agency ASIO, as the spook shop seeks to stay a step ahead of increasingly sophisticated terrorism and espionage threats targeting Australia.
And in what appears to be a first for the agency, candidates are being asked to present a video pitch to showcase their skills, passion and aptitude as well as sending through the usual documentation on candidate competencies and qualifications.
The exact number of hires isn’t public – it never is – but there’s no denying the push to snap-up good hires, with locations listed as ‘various’ rather than Canberra.
Notably, the recruitment push appears to have been retained in-house as opposed to farmed out to a recruitment agency to handle applications.
Attracting and retaining quality talent to national security agencies has never been easy, not least because of the hefty security clearance process (positive vet) and stiff competition from the private sector and other security agencies for similar skills.
Banks and big corporates with a seemingly insatiable demand for highly secure systems, data analytics and AI functions remain major competitors to the public service because they are able to compete far more aggressively on compensation for candidates.
Intelligence and security agencies, on the other hand, are able to capitalise on their cache as elite employers that may pay a bit less, but are regarded as defacto elite schools for tech talent that can solve difficult and unpredictable problems and challenges.
“We're an intelligence agency. Our roles make a difference and contribute to something bigger than just a bottom line,” the spy agency says in a dry backhander to its corporate competitors.
ASIO’s casting call this year is for ICT Network and Systems Administrators, ICT Network & Systems Administrators, Software Developers, IT Business Analysts and Project Managers, and Cyber Security Specialists alongside a raft of more senior executive hires.
The agency is also keeping its options open in terms of grading the seniority of positions, saying IT the jobs run right across its ranks.
“We're looking for a range of talented and passionate techs – regardless of your area of expertise. You'll be surprised at the skills we're looking to employ. We currently have vacancies at our technical entry level AE5 (APS5) up to our senior technical levels AEE2 (EL2),” ASIO’s call for candidates says.
The go-to list of interests ASIO wants for its cyber “techs” are distinctly operational and cited as:
• Technical collection
• Digital forensics
• Cyber network analysis (and support)
• Software reverse engineering
There are also notable changes to the way techs are being shortlisted and selected.
“ASIO intends to adopt a flexible, innovative and contemporary selection process. This process will rely less on the traditional application and interview approach,” the agency said, adding that candidates can select from a mix of “technical work samples”, “pre-recorded video “pitch””, “portfolio presentations” and “online technical testing”.
Like it’s sibling foreign eavesdropping agency the Australian Signal’s Directorate, ASIO is now also very publicly promoting its push for a diverse workplace including “recruitment processes which support neurodiverse candidates.”