Tackling Talent Challenges in the Cyber Security Sector

This post was written by: Daisy Steel

As recruiters, we’re often faced with a number of challenges when it comes to sourcing talent in the cyber security sector. On Episode 18 of The Cyber Security Matters Podcast we spoke to Jake Bernardes, the CTO for Whistic, about his perspectives on the topic. Here are his insights: 

The reality is that there never has been a skill shortage in cyber security. That is completely fake news. The problems are actually between the hiring manager or hiring team and the candidate. And those issues are extensive. Let’s start with the kind of person that the hiring manager wants. Do they know what the key skills are that that person needs to have? Secondly, people are very bad at writing job descriptions. The next problem is that once you’ve written the job description it gets translated to a job ad. 

We all rely on recruitment in our business. Usually HR are filling in for recruitment functions, and they don’t understand what I’ve told them they’re hiring for. Do they know what I’ve actually asked for? Are they translating something which doesn’t make any sense? Are they adding things because they are standard requests, like ‘must be college or university educated’, ‘must have this qualification’ etc, when I actually don’t care as a hiring manager? The problem is when that person HR misinterprets my request and does not put the right spin on it when it goes out to market. 

There are then two more problems in that situation. Firstly, that description doesn’t make a lot of sense, and secondly it’s not focussing on the right keywords. We’re often having issues with the salary as well, because this is a high-paid field. We’re going out to recruiters who can’t fulfil a role where the requirements don’t make sense and the salary doesn’t work. It’s impossible to find someone that doesn’t exist, so it creates the illusion of a talent shortage.  

The flip side is that I don’t have a shortage of candidates. What I have is an inability to screen candidates properly because everyone has realised that there’s money in cyber so they’ve made their resume cyber orientated. If HR does the screening, they don’t have the competence to know what is or isn’t relevant. They often miss potential gems because the resumes are quite simple but have one really interesting line at the bottom. They just go and find an SRE or cybersecurity analyst. HR puts on a layer of nonsense that they think makes sense, including a salary banding which is completely unrealistic, then throws it to recruiters and hopes that they can turn carbon into diamonds. 

Our industry is a weird one. There are so many people who are very good, but on paper they shouldn’t be good. On paper they should never have even been in the interview. Standard education and experience doesn’t allow me to spot the people who are going to excel, but people’s passion projects do. And so I stand by my statement, there is no skill shortage here. There is a fundamental disconnect and a poor process between cybersecurity leaders and the candidates who are applying. Everything in between those two dots is broken currently.

To learn more about the talent challenges in the Cyber Security sector, tune into The Cyber Security Matters Podcast here

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

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