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October 17, 2005

U.K. Seeks Real-Life IT 007s For Pretty Odd Job

Courtesy of TechWeb News

The United Kingdom has joined the United States in seeking IT specialists for intelligence purposes, but the country has one up on America in its promotion of geek appeal.

It's using Bond, James Bond.

The British Secret Intelligence Service – which once denied its own existence – went very public last week, promising careers that sometimes resemble that of Bond's.

SIS has thrown aside its long tradition of secrecy, unveiling a Web site to attract recruits. The site portrays its careers as exciting, stimulating and adventurous. It targets those who can manage data, analyze intelligence, invent and design high-tech devices, or deploy high-tech devices, in hostile environments. The agency, which conducts covert operations in foreign countries, is asking IT specialists to help with overall operations and the fight against terrorism.

The Web site invokes the name of James Bond, explaining that while movies glamorize the work of British intelligence agents, employees will see the gap between fiction and reality "narrows just a little and the certainty of a stimulating and rewarding career which, like Bond's, will be in the service of their country."

"Gathering secret intelligence to advance Britain's national interests in a rapidly changing and demanding international environment calls for staff who thrive on challenge and who are not afraid to take well-calculated decisions under pressure," the agency states. "They enjoy work that is often exciting, always varied, and, in the technical field, often cutting-edge."

The site maintains that the only SIS employee whose name is publicly announced is its chief, John Scarlett. Still, the service laid out some details of employees' lives in first-name-only profiles on the Web site.

One, named Angharad, reportedly worked for another governmental agency, wiring and assembling electronics. She wanted career growth, variety and the chance to work in London, according to the profile. "She moved into an operational deployment role, traveling overseas with equipment for installation, maintenance and end user training," the Web site states.

It describes 27-year-old Tony, an electronics technician who travels the world constantly, while developing engineering skills. He reportedly aspires to become an operational team leader. The site also describes Steve, an electrical engineer who left an office-bound job after five years. He, too, travels frequently now and aspires to lead a technical operational team someday.

In job descriptions for those with software, networking, communications and technical management skills, SIS states that candidates should have a "global outlook," a "can-do approach," determination and commitment to public service. They must be of British origin, at least 21 years old, and have resided in the country for five of the last 10 years.

Potential applicants are told they can expect a "fascinating, fast moving, and testing" workplace although the descriptions concede that most openings will be based in the United Kingdom, with potential for travel. Candidates can also expect an intense security clearance process.

Brits – who once snickered at the agency's attempt to maintain secrecy while basing its offices at Vauxhall Cross in London – can now view photographs of SIS' landmark headquarters.

The SIS has maintained some secrecy. It will not reveal how many employees it has or how it spends its money. According to the Web site, there is financial oversight, but spending details can't be revealed because of security reasons.

Like their counterparts in the United States, British intelligence agents have come under fire for failure to prevent terrorist attacks.

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