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A guide for cybersecurity recruitment in 2023

Recruitment | 4 Min Read

A guide for cybersecurity recruitment in 2023

Introduction

The increase in the online presence of businesses has drastically amplified cybersecurity challenges. Therefore, cybersecurity has become important for every organization operating digitally. It includes processes to protect networks, systems, and programs from cyberattacks or cyber theft.

According to Statista, around 15 million cyberattacks and data breaches were experienced by users across the globe.

Accenture State of Cybersecurity Resilience Report further explains that small businesses suffer 43% of total cyberattacks, yet only 14% are prepared to protect their systems.

The state of cybersecurity within an organization is crucial to protect the information of the company, its employees, and its customers. Unfortunately, the information of billions of people is compromised by cyberattacks, and a skilled cybersecurity professional can help reduce these threats.

For this reason, hiring a qualified and experienced cybersecurity professional is imperative for organizational growth and market reputation. This blog will discuss various aspects of cybersecurity recruitment, such as challenges in hiring and tips for optimum recruitment.

 

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Popular jobs for cybersecurity professionals

When cybersecurity professionals start their careers, they work as support technicians or helpdesk engineers. However, with a few years of experience, cybersecurity professionals can be hired for the following roles:

 

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Software security engineer:

These professionals focus on identifying system vulnerabilities, risk assessment, and creating secure software.

 

Information security analyst:

The professionals in this role concentrate on protecting the company’s sensitive and crucial information. They also design methods and policies that help monitor data, eliminate cyberattacks, and ensure compliance.

 

Security architect:

The role requires cybersecurity professionals to find system vulnerabilities and offer solutions that protect organizational information. It includes designing software and hardware for security systems.

 

Information security investigator:

These cybersecurity professionals identify and investigate cybercrimes to find hackers.

 

Penetration tester:

These cybersecurity professionals find threats in systems to understand methods attackers can use to breach security.

 


Qualifications necessary for cybersecurity professionals

Most cybersecurity professionals complete their required graduation in computer science engineering or a relevant field. After this, they may pursue the following:

  • A two-year master’s course
  • A three to five-year Ph.D. course

While these courses provide theoretical and academic knowledge, practical experience is gained by patiently developing cybersecurity skills over the years. Hence, the cybersecurity professional’s experience is often considered a marker of their knowledge.

With experience and education, some cybersecurity certifications are additionally valuable:

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

 


Top three challenges in cybersecurity recruitment

Accenture State of Cybersecurity Report explains that cyberattacks have increased by 31% per company. Another study by International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC) says that the need for cybersecurity professionals has reached 4.7 million, with a shortage of around 3.4 million professionals in this industry.

As a result, hiring managers face the following challenges in cybersecurity recruitment:

 

Hiring in the budget

 

Organizations have a budget for hiring, which becomes a bottleneck in cybersecurity recruitment when onboarding experienced candidates.

Finding candidates without experience through college placements or other sources is easier for entry-level positions. However, advanced-level positions require money for hiring and better employee compensation.

When there’s a mismatch in the budget for hiring and employee expectations, it becomes a challenge for the recruitment team.

Mercer | Mettl’s Cyber Security Assessment measures the capability of a professional in security basics, encoding skills, OWASP/OSSTMM concepts, and CORS concepts. You can shortlist candidate profiles according to your budget and candidate experience to ensure hiring efficiency.

 

Stringent hiring requirements

 

Hiring managers may pick candidates with the best work qualifications, educational background, and certifications. These guidelines are necessary to ensure the foundational skills and knowledge of the candidate.

However, evaluating candidates solely on qualifications may decrease your pool of potential employees. Some candidates with appropriate graduate and master’s degrees may be equally knowledgeable in the field. Using Cyber Security Assessment from Mercer | Mettl can help you overcome this barrier. With an initial test, you can easily shortlist candidates who may fit the job role correctly.

 

Poorly written job descriptions

 

When job descriptions do not offer insights into the specific job role, you may receive applications from several candidates who may not fit the criteria. Therefore, job descriptions should be clearly framed after understanding the company’s requirements, education qualifications, and other factors.

Utilize the knowledge of a senior cybersecurity leader in the organization who can help clarify role requirements.

 


The dos and don'ts of cybersecurity recruitment

Do’s

  • While writing your job description, mention specific details like full-time/part-time, engineering and certification required, and entry-level/advanced-level hiring.
  • Applicants want to maintain a work-life balance. Therefore, they should understand the same by reading the job description. Use keywords like hybrid work model or flexible work hours.
  • During the introductory interviews, explain your company’s goals and achievements in the cybersecurity domain. Candidates want to work with leading and reputable organizations.
  • Understand the skills gap in your workplace and ensure that this gap is filled during new hiring. Mercer | Mettl’s Skills Gap Analysis can help you find gaps in your organizational needs, ensuring optimum recruitment.
  • Utilize online test or assessment platforms like Mercer | Mettl to identify the hands-on domain skills of potential candidates.

Don’ts

  • Don’t ignore the soft skills of cybersecurity professionals during the interview. These professionals need to collaborate within the company. Hence, they should have good soft skills to explain issues in plain language.
  • Don’t hesitate to hire professionals without certification. Utilize Mercer | Mettl’s assessments to gauge a candidate’s foundational knowledge in cybersecurity.

 


Seven tips for cybersecurity recruitment

According to the ISACA report, 62% of businesses have understaffed cybersecurity teams.

This gap in requirement and supply is due to challenges faced during cybersecurity recruitment. These seven tips can be used for successful hiring in cybersecurity teams.

 

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Understand company needs

Before proceeding with hiring, companies must understand their cybersecurity recruitment needs. For example, what technologies do you use, what industry guidelines do you follow, what time is the team spending on cybersecurity, how big is your cybersecurity team, how do you implement changes in cybersecurity, etc.?

Hiring managers can receive clarity on job role specifications by involving a senior member of the cybersecurity team. An in-house expert or someone in a related job role is better equipped to aid your recruitment process.

For instance, this professional can evaluate the job description and modify it according to the company’s specific needs. Then, they can further join one of the technical interviews to know if any candidate has the required skills and experience.

Improve domain understanding

HR managers should know the domain and related skills when hiring a cybersecurity professional. This knowledge helps find correct cybersecurity assessments for candidate evaluation. Hence, recruiters should improve their domain understanding with in-house professionals’ expertise.

For instance, cybersecurity threat investigation, cloud security management, artificial intelligence, IoT, and blockchain are some in-demand skills in the cybersecurity landscape.

Understanding which domain expertise is necessary for which job role helps in efficient cybersecurity recruitment.

Utilize online test platforms

After identifying imperative skills for the role and business requirements, recruiting managers can utilize assessments to shortlist candidates. Tests on cybersecurity risk management, vulnerability assessment, threat management, security governance, network security, and penetration testing are beneficial to evaluate a candidate’s talent and foundational understanding of cybersecurity concepts.

Mercer | Mettl’s Cyber Security Assessment evaluates candidates across several competencies, such as data governance, information security, IT security, and cybersecurity. As a result, hiring managers can gain a holistic view of candidates’ hands-on skills in multi-factor authentication, logic bombs, sniffer attack, firewall security, malware practices, and many more. Additionally, you can customize these assessments as per business requirements. Therefore, you can change the difficulty level, request a custom test, include questions prepared by your team, and combine different tests.

Engage young talent

Engaging young talent may help you find enthusiastic and motivated individuals for entry-level or mid-level positions. Even within the organization, it is possible to create seasoned professionals with appropriate upskilling opportunities. For example, recruiters can create a training and mentoring program for technical employees with the basic knowledge and willingness to move to a cybersecurity role.

The company can also engage young talent from job portals and social media channels to hire academically sound professionals. These professionals can move to full-time roles in cybersecurity teams with short-term training.

Evaluate skills, not a degree

Recruiting managers should consider beyond a degree or certification for cybersecurity recruitment. There are many talented security and IT professionals with the required skills and proficiency. However, they are not hired due to degree requirements and stringent guidelines.

It is logical to utilize assessments and hackathons to determine competitive and driven candidates. For example, Mercer | Mettl’s Online Hackathons assess candidates’ coding proficiency, innovative skills, and problem-solving acumen. These assessments include coding hackathons, innovative ideathons, and case study competitions to help you hire the best cybersecurity talent.

Analyze communication skills

The cybersecurity team is central to many functions within the company. Therefore, these professionals must communicate with the IT team, employees, stakeholders, etc. With appropriate communication skills, it becomes easy to explain issues to colleagues.

For example, the security team has launched new security guidelines within the company. These guidelines can only be implemented with appropriate peer support. Therefore, the cybersecurity professional needs to train employees on correct security measures as in the guidelines.

Excellent communication skills improve collaboration, encouraging organizational employees to report cyber threats and resolve security-related doubts comfortably.

Create a constant talent pipeline

Hiring managers should create a long-term goal to generate a talent pipeline. Start partnering with colleges and universities to attract young talent. Provide growth opportunities, flourishing career paths, and future security to talented students.

Additionally, organizations can conduct sponsored events and hackathons and offer internships to identify cybersecurity talent and hire them. This method also helps create diversity in the workplace because women and other diverse groups receive equal opportunities.

As hiring managers continue to create a talent pipeline, they should additionally encourage existing employees willing to change careers to grasp these opportunities. Identify internal talent and focus on grooming these people for advanced positions. This will help reduce cybersecurity recruitment hassle and cost in the future.

 


Conclusion

Cybersecurity is a competitive landscape with consistently rising demand and low supply. Hence, organizations should re-evaluate their existing hiring method, modify processes according to new standards, and create a constant talent pipeline. Improving the engagement of young talent and internal employees willing to change careers additionally reduces the cost and time spent on cybersecurity recruitment.

Mercer | Mettl’s assessments can aid your recruitment process. Technical Tests can help you evaluate the skills of cybersecurity candidates, and Online Hackathons can allow attracting fresh talent from colleges and universities. Skills Gap Analysis can further aid identification of the organization’s reskilling and hiring recruits. Utilize these assessments to decrease time spent on talent acquisition, reduce recruitment costs, and ensure optimum cybersecurity hiring.

Originally published November 28 2022, Updated November 28 2022

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The primary objectives of recruitment and selection are to ensure high-quality candidates who are culturally fit and work toward shared organizational goals and vision.

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