Ever since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came online in the European Union in 2018, there has been a steady global march toward comparable digital privacy legislation. A new report from recruitment firm TRU Staffing Partners finds that this increasingly complex web of regulation, combined with the mass movement to remote work and cloud-based services spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic, has increased demand for privacy pros to the highest level in over a decade. There was a 30% increase in data privacy jobs in the previous year, with projections that the trend will continue through 2022 and beyond.
Privacy pros in greater demand than ever; jobs increasingly individualized in scope due to unique regulatory combinations
TRU’s findings describe a job market in which there is not just a general shortage of privacy pros, but consistent difficulties in finding people with the right skills and backgrounds to match the increasingly unique needs of open data privacy jobs.
This stems from two primary factors: regulations gradually coming online around the world, and greatly increased reliance on cloud services and digital platforms in workplaces. This latter element is spurring an increase in data privacy jobs not just for internal issues related to remote workers, but also an increase in online-only business from customers.
Privacy pros are now in hot demand not just to figure out how to keep organizations in compliance with an increasing variety of applicable digital privacy laws, but also to address this increasingly online market of consumers that are becoming more aware of the repercussions of putting so much personal information online. Even if a country or locality does not yet have digital privacy regulations comparable to something like the GDPR, business is nevertheless starting to steer away from companies that develop a reputation for not having adequate cybersecurity or data handling practices.
Another factor in play in the data privacy jobs market is the widely varying state of maturity of privacy programs. A good deal of recent research supports this, finding that status varies greatly from company to company but that there is now an almost universal push to develop these programs and understanding that more mature programs are reaping better tangible business benefits.
Qualified privacy pros are able to be quite selective in this job market, and the report finds that they are looking for more than just compensation. They also seek out organizations that take privacy seriously and have a commitment to it that starts at the executive level. Candidates see this as a strong indication that they will be valued in their role.
Open data privacy jobs jump by 30%, demand expected to remain high in near future
The report finds that privacy pros have some consistent concerns about the data privacy jobs they interview for. They have individual preferences for reporting structures, they want firm details of any pandemic-related policies before committing, and they want to know exactly how their time will be divided in terms of privacy responsibilities. They are also concerned about “level-appropriateness” of their job title (often due to concerns about future ability to market themselves), and want to know what technology tools the organization uses and how the company mission is connected to the privacy program.
The report also finds that when privacy pros make themselves available on the job market, they are being snapped up in record time. In 2019, a qualified person applying for data privacy jobs could generally expect an organization to take about three to six weeks to review everything and commit to them after initially sending their resume. In 2021, first contact to hiring is often happening in about one week. Privacy pros generally have at least two offers to choose from at any given time, and are averaging three during the time they are job-seeking.
Speed of hiring has also been influenced by virtual interviews becoming an industry norm. In 2021, 100% of first-round interviews were virtual and 90% of subsequent rounds were as well.
Prevalence of virtual interviews for data privacy jobs reflects the broader trend toward work-at-home models. TRU says that 77% of its placements in 2021 were for fully work-from-home positions, and that only 3% of privacy pros relocated for their new job (down from 27% in 2014). Privacy pros also listed remote or hybrid work models as their #1 motivation, followed by mentorship opportunities, compensation and upskilling opportunities.
Data privacy jobs also cost substantially more to fill in this market. Privacy pros saw an increase of 22% in compensation, generally commanding around $20,000 to $30,000 more per year for the same roles. A similar jump is expected to happen again by 2023.
Compensation also varies somewhat by industry. Big tech tends to pay the most, but the difference is smaller the more toward entry level the candidate is. Telecom, retail and entertainment keep pace with big tech and health care in recruiting more inexperienced candidates, but fall off substantially in terms of engineer and executive compensation. 75% of available data privacy jobs are with corporations, 20% are with consulting and software firms, and 5% are with law firms.
Given the breadth of opportunities, privacy pros are expecting interview processes to be efficient. Having to speak to multiple people and cover redundant ground is listed as a big turn-off, giving the impression that a company has issues with getting things done. Multiple stakeholders can also give the interviewee conflicting impressions of what the organizational structure and company expectations are.