Fill the cybersecurity talent gap with inquisitive job candidates
The impact of the Great Resignation and the Great Reshuffle is still strongly felt across many industries, including cybersecurity. There is a talent gap: Companies are struggling to hire enough talent to fulfill their needs and goals.
Widen the pool of cybersecurity job candidates
According to a McKinsey Global Survey, nearly nine out of 10 executives and managers say their organizations face a skills gap or expect one to develop by 2024. This means the talent they do have may not possess the necessary skills to excel in their roles.
However, another impact of these trends is that people who are resigning are also looking to change careers and industries entirely. This a shift that can help organizations minimize the talent and skills gap by looking at a new crop of job candidates who are searching for a different purpose. This is especially true for the cybersecurity field. As we’ve learned over the past couple of years, a cyber degree or typical cyber background isn’t a requirement to be a successful security professional. What arguably matters more are the characteristics or “soft skills” that an employee exhibits.
While I have a background in environmental science, I now lead the Cyber Protection Solutions team at Raytheon Intelligence & Space. Due to my own unconventional route into the field, I have seen firsthand the value of recruiting people with different skills and character traits that are transferable to a cyber role. As more people with unconventional backgrounds look to enter a new field, we can take advantage by identifying a few key traits that might make such candidates crucial to the cybersecurity industry.
Tenacity is a mix of traits including perseverance and grit – all of which can set a job candidate apart. When beginning a career in cybersecurity, with or without a degree or previous experience in the field, there are many learning opportunities, but also multiple learning curves. Tenacity is an important skill to push through these curves, while also being able to absorb new knowledge and apply it for future success.
Additionally, the threats cybersecurity teams face evolve continuously, which require them to pivot often and quickly look for the best solutions. Tenacity plays a key role in making sure that these pivots and solutions are impactful. As hiring teams look at new potential talent from a broader talent pool, identifying those who are tenacious is a great indicator of their potential success – especially for those with non-cyber backgrounds.
Curiosity is also critical when entering the cybersecurity field. Especially for those coming from an atypical background, curiosity can lead to the discovery of solutions that may have otherwise been overlooked. It can help them figure out how hackers think and behave, and influence proactive defense strategies after being able to step into their shoes.
Curious minds can further lead to the discovery of additional interests within the many facets of the field, making those individuals more well-rounded cybersecurity professionals. As hiring managers look to fill cybersecurity roles, identifying curios candidates can be just as – if not more – beneficial than looking for someone who has “typical” cybersecurity qualifications.
Willingness to learn
Another important quality hiring teams can look for in potential cybersecurity candidates is a strong willingness to learn. This encompasses both tenacity and curiosity: Those who are determined and interested in discovering new information are consistently willing and ready to face new challenges. Cybersecurity can be complex and multifaceted, and those who can be patient and take the time to learn the breadth and depth of the field can be successful in unique ways.
Cyber threat and defense strategies used to combat them are always evolving. Those who have a willingness to learn will be more adept at keeping up with these changes and learn how to adapt them into current processes. Many technical skills can be taught, but a willingness to learn comes naturally. Of course, it is a combination of these traits that widen the talent pool.
As organizations continue to feel the impact of the Great Resignation and the Great Reshuffling, they will face talent and skills gaps that can impact all facets of the business. When looking to hire new employees, the cybersecurity industry would be remiss not to consider talent from varying and unique backgrounds. It won’t be easy, and training will be necessary, but with the proper supportive environment, a diverse set of skills will help you build a stronger cybersecurity team.