Recruiting cybersecurity talent is a challenging process for numerous reasons. The demand for these professionals is very high, as one ISC2 study explains – an incredible 46% of cybersecurity professionals are contacted every week by recruiting agencies, regardless of whether they have a job or not. However, the talent shortage in this industry is a serious problem, and companies, government organizations, and especially cybercriminals are taking note.
According to the survey on IT decision-makers done by The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), 82% of employers report a shortage of cybersecurity skills, and 71% believe this talent gap ’causes direct and measurable damage to their organizations.’ The number of unfilled cybersecurity positions has grown by over 50% since 2015, with the total expected to be more than 1.8 million by 2022. This means the competition to find and retain quality talent will continue to be a struggle for companies worldwide.
With cybercrime representing a $6 trillion economy, the cybersecurity industry simply cannot relax and ignore it. The US government alone plans to spend $9.8 billion on cybersecurity in 2022; businesses of all sizes need to recognize the urgency for enhanced security. The risk of data breaches and hackers gaining private information is constantly increasing, so much that by 2023, it’s predicted, there will be 10 million new cybersecurity job openings. That is why companies and organizations must hire the best cybersecurity talent to protect their data against such threats.
If your company is part of the rapidly evolving cybersecurity industry, you don’t have time to waste on candidates that aren’t up to par with your standards and needs. Finding great talent to fill your cybersecurity positions is one of the biggest challenges you’ll have to face to ensure the future of your business. So, with that in mind, we’ve created this all-encompassing and definitive guide to cybersecurity recruiting.
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Know Where to Look for Talent
The best cybersecurity talent probably already works at another company. That’s why most of them are constantly contacted by recruiting agencies. To find the right talent for your open cybersecurity position, you will have to be more assertive in your search. If you have a job position that’s been available for several months and your traditional recruitment methods have produced nothing, you need to start looking somewhere else.
Are you going to local industry meetups? Do you know what local cybersecurity talent is reading? Where are they chatting online? If you want to get top talent, you need to do good old networking. This will also allow your company to increase diversity, which leads us to the second step.
Diversify Your Talent Pool
According to HR Dive, nearly 40% of employers face challenges when hiring qualified employees, while one in five people in the US with a disability face difficulties getting hired. Disabled people, women, veterans, minorities, and those with a nontraditional education are untapped markets in the cybersecurity industry. If you want to find quality candidates to fill your talent pool, you need to think outside the box. Not only is widening the net for cybersecurity talent crucial for a growing industry, but it’s also the right thing to do for an industry that actively works on making diversity a priority.
Look for Skills Beyond Formal Education
One of the biggest hiring mistakes companies make is immediately eliminating good candidates because they don’t have the required degree. Any recruiter will tell you a great candidate doesn’t necessarily have a college degree, nevertheless, so many companies get hung up on this. But experience, professionalism, trustworthiness, and a wide set of skills are always more valuable. So, if you focus on candidates who are eager to learn, you will access a new and exciting pool of top talent that’s likely to be more interested in your company if you offer them the opportunity to grow.
Have a Clear Job Description
Writing a good job description is one of the biggest challenges in cybersecurity recruiting. Often, companies may not even have the right job title, resulting in getting overlooked by candidates who are searching for other job titles. Make sure to write a job description that matches the needed skills you’re looking for in a candidate. However, don’t put too many requirements because you most likely don’t need a unicorn for every position, or you will push potential candidates away.
Market Your Company Effectively
In a saturated job market, you need to make sure your company stands out to cybersecurity candidates. This can involve emphasizing new technologies or tools, explaining how you solve security problems or discussing how emerging security technologies are integrated into your company’s operations. However, if your company’s security team is new, pitch the challenge of building a complete security system from the ground up.
Engage Existing Talent
You may already have plenty of fresh, eager, and intelligent talent working within your company. Don’t disregard the value of training such people internally because these individuals already know your systems inside and out. Send these people to cybersecurity seminars and conferences to facilitate skill development. You can also reach out to people working in other professions who can easily migrate to cybersecurity positions, possibly including communications, accounting, and law enforcement professionals. This is a great way to expand your resources and source talent from less competitive markets.
How to Recognize the Right Talent?
The right candidate for your company should have the following traits:
Continuous, Lifelong Learner
The cybersecurity industry is constantly and rapidly evolving; therefore, the most important quality to look for in a cybersecurity candidate is someone who can do the same. They should be naturally curious and have a desire for continual learning. The cybersecurity workforce needs people who want to be a part of a team that invents solutions that will keep your company safe today and into the future. This person is also willing to learn from others, not just rely on experience.
Does your candidate have the initiative and imagination to do the job right? Do they seem determined? In the cybersecurity industry, the issues people face are constantly changing and are very difficult, so persistence is crucial. A certain amount of persistence also requires confidence, which is a must in this industry as cybersecurity workers need to deal with many people, from those in the company they work for to end-users.
Curiosity and Perception
Curiosity is one of the most important traits of cybersecurity professionals. Anyone who gets too comfortable in fighting off cyber attacks will soon be outdated, making their organizations subject to data breaches. To be successful in this industry, a candidate needs to be curious and search for new weaknesses. A great candidate is someone who always tries to stay one step ahead of external threats. They also need to see issues from both sides, thinking of what needs to be protected in the company. They need to put themselves in the hacker’s position and perceive any weaknesses or places to attack.
Having Well-Rounded Skills
A well-rounded skill set ranges from cyber governance and related soft skills to technical skills such as hardware/IoT security, penetration testing, secure development, code review, industrial control system security, network security, among others. The ability to clearly communicate issues in non-technical terms is also an important skill.
The Ability to Think Like a Cyber Criminal
The ability to think like hackers enables cybersecurity professionals to anticipate a cybercriminal’s next move to recognize weak points in system defenses.
Military veterans have the proven ability to learn new concepts and skills, which makes them great candidates. Most of them are trained in the use of highly advanced technologies, and they can easily perform under pressure. They can accomplish priorities on time and they know the importance of staying with a task until everything is done right. Due to their previous profession, veterans can function as individual contributors or highly effective team operators. Additionally, they often have important security clearances already in place, which is certainly a plus.
What are the Benefits Of Using A Recruitment Agency In Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity recruitment has been a problem for companies for two reasons – cybercrime is more prevalent, publicized, and devastating for businesses due to an increasing demand followed by a shortage of skilled candidates for available positions. There is an estimated shortage of half a million candidates in the U.S. alone, and the global gap estimate is well over four million people. This means companies will compete for a limited number of qualified cybersecurity talent.
However, the process of recruiting requires time and money. It can even slow down business since those working on finding top talent cannot focus on anything else until they’re done with recruiting. Because of this, companies are turning to recruitment agencies specializing in finding cybersecurity top talent. So, what are the benefits of using a specialized recruitment agency?
1. Agencies Provide Specialist Knowledge
Recruitment is not a one-size-fits-all process, and many companies have made the mistake of using a general recruitment agency to fill highly-specialized roles. IT recruitment agencies, for example, know exactly what types of cybersecurity skills, experiences, and qualities to look for in particular functions like Cybersecurity Expert or Data Architect. This is an exceptional advantage to NGOs or large retail groups that do not primarily offer products or services in IT yet have complex IT infrastructures as the backbone of their operation. Such companies might not know what qualities they need to look for in a candidate but could brief a specialized IT recruitment agency on the roles, tasks, and services they expect from one.
2. Agencies Have Access to the Best Talent
Since IT recruitment agencies are experts in finding the right talent for a job, they have access to the very best candidates. While trimming down hundreds of CVs received each day, and by staying in touch with promising candidates who didn’t make the cut for a specific role, recruitment agencies have built up databases of skilled professionals. This means they are more likely to find the right candidate for your job opening and can do it faster.
3. Agencies Can Cast a Broader Net
Companies that deal with their own recruitment usually end up recruiting locally, despite vacancies posted on national or international job boards. By contrast, specialized IT recruitment agencies can identify talent from a wider scope who would be a better fit for a company. What’s more, they are particularly adept at convincing promising candidates that relocating could be a great move for the right fit.
4. Agencies can Save You Time
It is an inevitable fact that recruiting takes time and money. From writing specific job descriptions to arranging and doing interviews, it can be a tiring process. But because this is their specialty they can streamline the hiring process, leaving their client’s HR department to get on with more important aspects of their job.
Probably the most time-consuming aspect of recruiting is the interview process. Not many people want to take days out from their already packed business schedules to interview hundreds of candidates. A major benefit of a specialized IT recruitment agency is the ability to shortlist candidates through initial interviews on their client’s behalf. This means the only candidates you will need to see personally will be the absolute top talent.
5. Agencies can Act as Salary Consultants
Because many companies don’t know the true value of their talent, they might dramatically overpay external candidates or advertise job roles with salaries that will never attract top-level candidates. Since IT recruitment agencies go through hundreds of postings every day, they know the industry average for any given position and can factor in other elements such as location. This puts IT recruitment agencies in a unique position to negotiate salary expectations with candidates so companies will always end up paying a fair and competitive wage to their newest employees.
6. Agencies Can Provide Expert Advertisement
Too many companies end up wasting money (and time!) advertising their open job positions in the wrong places. Although the IT industry is thriving, if your company is not looking in the right places, it will never find the right candidate. Specialized IT recruitment agencies know all the ins and outs of job advertisements and will only advertise a vacancy in the places that will secure interviews with top talent.
7. Agencies Will Pay Attention to Diversity and Inclusion
Now more than ever companies recognize the benefits of prioritizing diversity and inclusion within their staff. This is no different when it comes to cybersecurity employees. Cybersecurity teams with a wide range of backgrounds have outperformed organizations with a less diverse workforce. If companies want to secure the most talented cybersecurity professionals, they will need to adopt a new approach to access more diverse talent pools. IT recruitment agencies conduct the hiring process with this in mind to find the perfect fit for every company and organization.
The cybersecurity market continues to have a constant need for exceptional cybersecurity talent, coupled with an ongoing flow of new and interesting IT positions. Despite this, there is an incredible shortage of cybersecurity talent. For this and other reasons, using the services of a specialized IT recruitment agency provides significant benefits for both companies and candidates. However, if you choose to do the hiring process yourself, we are sure this guide will help you find the right candidate for your company.
Hundreds of new candidates are looking for job openings every day, and CIBR Warriors are there to help you find the right one for you. For more help on advancing your career or finding a perfect candidate in IT and Cybersecurity, contact us. We’d be happy to answer your questions and provide you with the best advice for getting started.