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Looking for Talent in the Cybersecurity Industry

Photo: Courtesy of Jefferson Santos

Cybersecurity is one of the few industries still actively hiring during the pandemic, the only problem is finding enough qualified candidates to fill these open roles.

The United States is still reeling from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment rates peaked at 20.5 million unemployed Americans in April, the highest since the Great Depression. But as most industries feel the effects of stay-at-home orders and new restrictions, many organizations are actively hiring for technology and cybersecurity roles.

Now that an estimated 62 percent of the workforce has transitioned to working from home and companies have uncovered a host of new vulnerabilities, there’s been an increase in demand and opportunity for cybersecurity professionals. Just this spring, there were more than 348,000 open cybersecurity roles, which signifies great resilience within the industry.

A change of venue

Many big tech companies have made strides to make remote work a permanent solution for their employees, allowing workers to relocate. Technology hubs are now experiencing a “tech exodus” where people are moving to other metropolitan and not-so-metropolitan areas.

As a result, organizations no longer have to limit themselves to hiring local talent and can more aggressively pursue diversity and inclusion initiatives. People of color, women, and other underrepresented groups often have less access to cities with the highest costs of living in the country.

The problem is that while organizations may be ready and willing to hire cybersecurity talent at growing rates, there is still a shortage of qualified professionals in the industry.

But there are solutions available.

Other paths

For one, organizations can hire within. Many organizations overlook the possibility of transitioning workers from other business areas, including IT, into cybersecurity. This “cross-skilling” provides an alternative to traditional hiring and recruitment and adds an opportunity for companies to create more diversity in the field. Investing in adequate training for motivated individuals is a cost-effective and productive way for organizations to find the talent they need and provide new avenues for advancement among employees.

Second, organizations can look beyond candidates with undergraduate degrees in cybersecurity or computer science and pursue individuals of different backgrounds and experience levels.  Respected industry certifications like CompTIA’s Security+ or the Associate of (ISC)² CISSP can and should provide an indication to employers that a candidate is worth an investment even in lieu of the degree.

Lastly, being proactive in updating job descriptions, clearly defining job roles and career paths, as well as providing training opportunities to upskill and reskill employees gives organizations the greatest chance of acquiring and retaining the best talent.

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