How To Tackle the Cybersecurity Skills Shortage

Jul 20, 2022

Understand the challenges of hiring qualified cybersecurity professionals, and learn how to bridge the cybersecurity skills gap.

Toby Cox - Guest Contributor
How To Tackle the Cybersecurity Skills Shortage

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 [1], and like you, many others are facing this challenge.

According to an industry report [2], 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.

Challenges you may face when hiring cybersecurity staff

Here are some common challenges you may face when recruiting skilled cybersecurity workers.

You have to compete with other companies

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. 

You have to pay more to hire qualified cybersecurity professionals

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.

Your HR department might not understand your cybersecurity needs

According to ISACA’s 2020 State of Cybersecurity report [3], 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.

It’s tough finding professionals with niche skills

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 [4], such as emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, communication, and creativity,  is another challenge you may face.

8 ways to tackle cybersecurity shortage

Here are eight effective tips to manage the cybersecurity talent crunch and get around the high competition in hiring cybersecurity staff. 

1. Partner with universities to nurture talent 

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.  

2. Improve compensation by offering perks, ESOPs, and other benefits

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. 

3. Hire retired hands and veterans

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.

4. Train your existing IT staff in cybersecurity 

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 [5] to help them gain the required qualification. This organic method of cybersecurity education and training will cost you less than hiring new talent.

5. Invest in your information security staff

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.

6. Keep your employees happy to reduce attrition

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 [6] 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.

top 5 reasons cyber professionals leave their jobs

7. Standardize and automate security processes

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:

intruder software screenshot

Penetration testing in Intruder software to detect SQL injection vulnerabilities (Source)

8. Partner with MSSPs

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.

Choose any method, but don’t ignore cybersecurity

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:

About the author

Toby Cox - Guest Contributor

Toby Cox is a guest contributor for GetApp, covering software trends and stories of small business resilience. Her research on business trends and corporate social responsibility has been featured on, The Manifest, and Blog. Currently, Toby is based in Boston, MA, where she is a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School. She loves nature and learning new languages.
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