With the increasing sophistication of cyber threats, it is important to have skilled security professionals on your team. If you’re finding it difficult to hire a cybersecurity expert, you’re not alone. The cybersecurity skills shortage is widespread , and like you, many others are facing this challenge.
According to an industry report , by 2025 , there’ll be 3.5 million available but unfulfilled cybersecurity jobs globally. And small businesses like yours are likely to be more affected by the skills shortage: Budget constraints may make it tougher for you to compete with big players in the race to attract the best cybersecurity talent.
In this article, we discuss the common challenges you may face when hiring a cybersecurity professional. We also offer tips to address those challenges and overcome the cybersecurity shortage at your small business.
Here are some common challenges you may face when recruiting skilled cybersecurity workers.
There are many companies looking to hire cybersecurity experts, but only a limited talent pool. This has increased market competition, with most companies vying for the same candidates. Large firms that can offer better salaries, perks, and other benefits often have a winning edge in such cases.
High market competition for hiring cybersecurity talent translates to high costs of recruitment. Spending such a large amount on a role that doesn’t directly translate into revenue is something you need to think about carefully before making any investment.
According to ISACA’s 2020 State of Cybersecurity report , 72% of companies say their HR department doesn't understand their hiring needs. To avoid a similar situation, clearly communicate the job requirements to your HR staff, so they have a complete understanding of the cybersecurity skills they should be looking for in candidates.
If hiring cybersecurity professionals is a challenge, hiring professionals with niche security skills is an even bigger challenge. There is an acute skills shortage in fields such as cloud security, application security, and security analysis and investigation. Hiring candidates with the right soft skills , such as emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, communication, and creativity, is another challenge you may face.
Here are eight effective tips to manage the cybersecurity talent crunch and get around the high competition in hiring cybersecurity staff.
The cybersecurity industry is highly specialized, and skills shortage is at every stage—from entry-level positions to leadership ranks. It’s a good idea to partner with higher education institutions and hire talent right out of college. Conduct assessments and contests to identify students who have an aptitude for IT security, and nurture them by offering scholarships, internships, and apprenticeships. You’ll help them develop the required skills as well as encourage them to pursue a cybersecurity career with your organization.
Aim to offer compensation that matches industry standards, but candidate expectations can be high due to multiple offers. If you aren’t able to offer what large companies are offering, make up for it with employee stock option plans (ESOPs), health and insurance benefits, flexible work options, and other perks.
Another option to overcome cybersecurity workforce shortage is hiring retired professionals and veterans experienced in security technologies. Their salary demand will also likely be lower than those in the workforce currently. You can hire them as consultants or on a part-time or contractual basis, depending on what suits both parties.
Check if any of your existing IT team members are interested in and have the aptitude to take up a cybersecurity role. Enroll qualifying members in Certification in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), and similar certifications  to help them gain the required qualification. This organic method of cybersecurity education and training will cost you less than hiring new talent.
For many cybersecurity professionals, the pressure of a regular job leaves little to no time to learn new skills or stay updated with the latest security technologies. Keep the skills of your cybersecurity workforce sharp by enrolling them in certifications and encouraging them to attend industry meets and tech seminars. This will keep them updated with the changing cyber risk landscape and evolving cyber technologies.
Finding cyber talent is a challenge, so losing your existing staff is the last thing you want. Burnout, stress, and better opportunities are some of the main reasons  cybersecurity professionals quit their jobs. Offer career development opportunities, work-life balance, and other perks and benefits to keep your cybersecurity workforce happy and make them stay longer with your company.
Automating processes such as threat detection and mitigation can help if you’re short on security staff. Automation techniques also let you standardize security processes such as incident response, risk assessment, and security audits.
Here are some automation tools to help strengthen your company’s cyber defense:
Network monitoring software monitors network traffic to detect abnormalities such as traffic spikes that can be a sign of DDoS attacks.
Security information and event management (SIEM) software analyzes the security alerts generated by applications and network hardware in real time..
Security analytics software automates the analysis of network and application data to detect abnormalities such as network traffic spikes.
Penetration testing software simulates various cyberattack scenarios to test your defense against common security threats such as SQL injection or DDoS attacks.
If you’re not able to hire a dedicated cybersecurity practitioner, outsource to a managed security service provider (MSSP). MSSPs have all the required experience and resources to take care of your security needs, including threat monitoring, incident response, and security audits.
Depending on your budget and security goals, you can hire dedicated cybersecurity professionals, partner with MSSPs, or train your IT staff to take up security roles. Partnering with MSSPs will help meet your immediate security needs, while having a dedicated internal cybersecurity team will help in the long run, especially as your business grows in size. Any method works fine as long as you prioritize cybersecurity and don’t ignore it.
Interested in reading more about cybersecurity? Check out:
Cybersecurity Jobs Report: 3.5 Million Openings In 2025, Cybercrime Magazine
10 Hot Cybersecurity Certifications For IT Professionals To Pursue In 2021, Cybercrime Magazine
Toby Cox - Guest Contributor
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