Cybersecurity Talent Acquisition in 2019: My Top Three Recommendations

Jan 07, 2019
5 minutes

This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)

As we begin 2019, we are crossing the threshold into another exciting year in cybersecurity. Building on the momentum of 2018 – a year filled with steep growth and innovation – cybersecurity now takes center stage in a big way.

We can see a significant increase in awareness and passion about cybersecurity as a career. People from all walks of life are talking about the opportunities, asking questions including:

  • “What are the biggest challenges in cybersecurity?”
  • “Which tactics, techniques and procedures can be used, and when?”
  • “What skills and experiences are required to have a successful career in this field?”

As cybersecurity continues to become a central focal point in our lives, we will see growth and interest in career opportunities. In 2019, it will be business-critical for organizations to attract the right talent for positions that influence and manage cybersecurity strategies. Here are my top three recommendations for what we can do to solidify the approach and practices for cybersecurity talent acquisition in 2019:

  • Retain great talent and expand the pipeline. Great talent is connected to great work. Those who are inspired to do great work are deeply motivated by a security strategy that looks into the future and aims to make a profound impact on the company it serves. Take a deep look at your security strategy, ensure it aligns to building a security platform, and do the hard work to push the limits of what a great security program can be, which will keep your top talent engaged, challenged and energized – the qualities the best talent show up for.

Furthermore, the growing talent deficit in cybersecurity will continue to have a measurable impact. To ensure we have the people and skills needed to secure our ever-changing business environment and digital way of life, we must think of pipeline in a much broader way. Expand the parameters of the cybersecurity talent pipeline to include students who are just beginning their careers, skilled professionals exploring a job change, entrepreneurs wanting to discover the next trend, and others. Look for those who have a passion and curiosity for learning more about cybersecurity, even if they don’t have a background or experience in cybersecurity yet.

  • Interview for team and culture fit. Cybersecurity is extremely complex and promises to become even more so. For teams to make an increasing impact, we can’t rely on standard hiring practices. Hiring for cybersecurity is about the future. Move beyond purely testing for subject matter expertise, as doing so will merely show what they’ve done. As cybersecurity evolves, we need to better understand how they’ll solve for the future. Test for complex problem-solving, test for how they’ll fit into the team you’re building, and create methods of engagement that will not only draw out the right outcomes but also show what engaging with the team you’ve built will be like. Some questions you might ask when hiring for cybersecurity are:
    • What are you passionate about?
    • What are your problem-solving and innovation processes?
    • Describe the best team you’ve worked on.
    • How do you stay ahead of the bad guys?

Remember, candidates are also assessing you, your organization and your company. Be prepared to share your story of how you got started in cybersecurity, the challenges you’ve faced, and how you overcame them. Furthermore, help them better understand the culture you have and will be developing. This will help candidates see the possible paths they can take. Share the Cybersecurity Career Guide, which includes amazing stories of different jobs in cybersecurity and the individuals who work in this field.

  • Actively build a strong cybersecurity culture. A trend that will increase significantly in 2019 is the increase of CISOs on boards. This will elevate the prioritization of security talent acquisition and initiatives in the organization as well as bring added visibility and resources. Even for organizations that cannot achieve a certain percentage of the workforce dedicated to security, the reality is that anyone hired into any organization will need to have a baseline understanding of security risks – from front-line employees to executives. Organizations relying solely on their Information Security teams to combat cyberthreats are at increased risk of losing the battle. A strong cybersecurity culture cannot be limited to only certain individuals or groups within an organization. It requires the active participation of everyone, having a security mindset and owning the responsibility of reducing risk in the organization.

The most difficult challenges are the ones we don’t know, and building a workforce that includes diverse perspectives, experiences and backgrounds will prepare us to solve tomorrow’s problems. Within the organization, be willing to leverage cross-functional talent to strengthen the understanding of processes and procedures as well as share tips and best practices.

As leaders and professionals in cybersecurity, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to increase the understanding of cybersecurity for everyone we interact with, whether that’s at work, at home or in the community. The next generation of professionals is ready to join the cybersecurity workforce, and we must be prepared, in the coming year, to inspire and encourage them to continuously disrupt the status quo.

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