The most relevant cybersecurity threat to most businesses may be human, not technical. A sudden wave of cybercrime paired with longstanding tech labor challenges has created a cybersecurity skills gap, leaving companies without the expertise they need.
Some companies lack dedicated security staff entirely, while others have a small, overworked department trying to manage massive workloads. Companies that hope to stay safe need to address this talent shortage.
Here are five strategies for attracting new employees and maximizing the impact of the current workforce.
Look for Potential Over Experience
One mistake companies often make in hiring is overlooking applicants with high potential in favor of those with experience. Years on the job and leading certifications are ideal, but the current cybersecurity job market is too small and competitive. Businesses should expand their search to include less-experienced workers who can grow into top talent.
Looking for recruits with specific cybersecurity degrees and certifications will narrow the field too much. Broadening horizons to include security-adjacent experience and education will help companies find talented candidates that traditional searches may miss.
There are many readily available workers to fill businesses’ cybersecurity needs if they know where to look. Computer science is one of the top ten most valuable college majors right now, so companies can expect many young, promising graduates to enter the workforce soon. They may lack on-the-job experience, but they can gain that under current staff.
Emphasize Upskilling and Reskilling
Similarly, businesses should recognize the importance of ongoing learning within the workplace. When outside talent is hard to find, it may be better to foster from within. Companies can do that by providing career development opportunities or paying for workers to get new certifications and education.
This on-the-job training will help grow less experienced employees into experts. It will also help keep current workers satisfied in their positions, preventing turnover. A lack of growth opportunities accounts for 40% of security professionals leaving their jobs, more than any other category.
Companies must provide upward mobility and chances to learn new skills if they hope to keep their security experts. Offering these upskilling and reskilling opportunities will also create experience, so recruiters don’t have to look for it from the beginning.
Make Security Positions Enticing
Some potential solutions to the talent gap are more straightforward. Positions with more enticing benefits to offer will attract more applicants. Competitive pay, health care coverage and paid time off are good places to start, but companies can go further.
Many IT security workers today want flexible work arrangements. While many security professionals say securing remote employees has made their jobs more difficult, many also want the option to work from home. This desire is the second most common reason cybersecurity professionals leave their jobs today.
Companies can decide what they should offer by surveying current workers. Providing what security employees want will help reduce turnover and will likely attract new applicants.
The cybersecurity talent shortage is real, but it may not be as substantial as some organizations think. That’s because many companies overlook qualified candidates, thanks to the field’s historical lack of diversity.
Just 25% of the global cybersecurity workforce is female, and turnover for women in tech positions is often remarkably high. Companies that emphasize creating a fairer, more comfortable and empowering workplace could reverse this trend. This opens the door to a much larger talent pool than what the industry historically focuses on.
As workplaces become more diverse, they’ll become more appealing to many workers. Businesses will then have an easier time recruiting cybersecurity professionals.
Lessen Cybersecurity Workloads
Businesses must also aim to prevent burnout by reducing cybersecurity teams’ workloads. Burnout in the industry is high, and many employees feel stressed because there are too many problems for their small numbers to address. Companies can counteract this by fostering a culture of cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity should be a shared responsibility across all employees. Phishing alone accounts for more than one-third of breaches, and more thorough training is often enough to prevent it. If all workers practice good cyber hygiene, there will be less for security teams to worry about.
Lightened workloads would allow even small security teams to accomplish more. This will help mitigate the overall impact of the cybersecurity talent shortage.
The Cybersecurity Talent Shortage Won’t Last Forever
More people will earn relevant degrees and certifications as they enter the workforce and realize the demand for security workers. Consequently, available talent will slowly catch up to the current gap, resolving the shortage. Until that happens, companies have many options for mitigating this impact and developing a cybersecurity team that is happy in their work.
These five solutions can help businesses attract new security workers, keep current ones, develop talent from within and lessen the shortage’s urgency. They can then approach their cybersecurity needs with confidence and stay safe.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.