How to Beat the Cybersecurity Workforce Gap

Sarah Hospelhorn

Sarah Hospelhorn Director of Product Marketing at Varonis

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Cyber threats are growing in number each year and becoming more sophisticated. This means that businesses and organizations need to hire cyber professionals to mitigate the risk and keep their data and computer networks safe. But this isn’t as easy as it once was – there’s a big gap in the cybersecurity workforce.

Infographic

Why is the cybersecurity market so saturated?

With the rising demand for cybersecurity, there’s less cyber talent available for the huge number of job openings. Fewer people are choosing a career in cybersecurity, making it difficult for companies and organizations to fill job openings. And it’s not just cybersecurity jobs that are undergoing a workforce gap — many other tech jobs are also experiencing a shortage in being filled by skilled workers. This includes jobs that require specialties and skills such as network administrators, data scientists and developers.

Here’s why there’s such a gap in the workforce and what you can do to recruit, hire and retain cybersecurity employees.

4 reasons for the workforce gap

There are several reasons for the workforce gap in cybersecurity, all of which are factors in the shortage of skilled cybersecurity workers.

Vast increase in hackers and cyberattacks

Incidents of hacking and data security breaches are becoming an increased risk, with cyberattacks costing businesses and organizations millions of dollars in damage each year. Small businesses are just as much at risk as larger companies, which is putting even more of a strain on the workforce and widening the gap in available cyber talent.

Younger generations aren’t aware of the opportunities

Students today are unaware of the opportunities of a career in cybersecurity and the benefits it provides, such as job security and high salaries. This is because while the younger generation knows what cybersecurity is all about, they lack the understanding of what it means to work in the security field and the benefits that accompany those careers. They may be exposed to one or two classes that cover security but this isn’t enough to encourage them to consider a career in it.

High schools and secondary educational institutions should consider adding more courses to their curriculum that introduce young students to IT and cybersecurity. This exposure may inspire students enough to explore a career in security, highlighting that these jobs are exciting and pay well.

When it comes to the hiring process, tech companies looking for cybersecurity employees should consider creating bridge programs and apprenticeships to help cultivate relationships with young talent from local institutions. Once they complete their education and programs they’re a great source of high-level talent that already has a connection with your organization.

Lack of skilled cyber-professionals

Companies today need more cybersecurity talent than ever before. They need to recruit and hire graduates who have the skills to design secure network systems and develop tools for security and defense. But there simply isn’t enough skilled cyber talent to go around and the lack of available talent is putting these businesses at risk of cyberattacks. Think outside of the box and consider hiring cybersecurity employees based on their traits and potential rather than direct cybersecurity experience.

Professionals outside of IT often have diverse skills such as the ability to work through problems to find the right solution. Employers can invest in apprenticeship and training programs that help build employees into ideal candidates for a career in cybersecurity.

Burning out current employees

Many careers in IT have a high level of stress but none more than in cybersecurity. The pressure of keeping data and computer networks safe can cause job burnout. Companies need to implement employee programs that help manage stress and deal with the pressures of work overload and listen to concerns. This includes flexible work hours as well as supporting their workload by automating or delegating tasks where appropriate. Otherwise, burnout can lead to employees either taking a leave of absence or quitting their job altogether and switching to a career that’s less stressful.

How to entice cybersecurity talent and keep them around

There are some measures that employers can take to entice cybersecurity talent and keep them happy as employees:

  • Outsourcing. Match current employee expertise to in-house security tasks. For tasks that require skills current employees don’t have or are too time-consuming, companies should consider outsourcing to cybersecurity service providers.
  • Accurate job descriptions. Providing concise job descriptions and exact requirements of each specific job makes the recruiting process more successful. Millennials indicate they’re more likely to consider working for a company when they know exactly what the job is about.
  • Hire outside of cybersecurity. Employers may need to be more creative in their hiring process by recruiting outside of IT and hiring those who have the skills necessary for a career in cybersecurity.
  • Preparing future employees. Developing apprentice and training programs can give employers the opportunity to recruit new employees and prepare them for a future career in cybersecurity.
  • Addressing burnout. Companies and organizations should provide employees with ways to alleviate and manage stress. This includes wellness and fitness programs as well as coaching and mentoring.
  • Employee investment. Investing in an employee’s career makes them feel valued for their skills and knowledge. Employers should offer opportunities for continued learning and upgrading which can lead to higher employee retention.

Hiring a reliable and skilled cybersecurity team comes with some challenges. The workforce gap and the ever-increasing rise in cybercrime means companies need to be prepared to offer more. When recruiting, they need to come up with ways to entice cyber talent to want to work for them...and stay working for them.

This cybersecurity workforce gap infographic by Varonis sums up the reasons behind the shortage in cybersecurity talent and provides some solutions for hiring and recruiting cybersecurity employees.

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