Cybersecurity Hiring Managers

Cybersecurity Hiring Managers Are Looking For More Than Tech Skills

The cybersecurity industry faces a paradox: a vast number of open positions coexist with a struggle to find qualified candidates. While there’s an abundance of tech professionals seeking cybersecurity careers, a disconnect exists between what hiring managers seek and what candidates offer.

Here’s a breakdown of the current cybersecurity hiring landscape:

  • The Skill Gap: A recent ISACA study revealed that 71% of organizations have unfilled cybersecurity positions. Hiring managers often cite a lack of qualified applicants, with only 26% confident that most applicants possess the necessary skills. Certifications and experience remain crucial, but “soft skills” like communication and cultural fit are increasingly important.
  • Looking Beyond Certifications: Focusing solely on certifications narrows the talent pool. Experts recommend seeking candidates who demonstrate a “learning mindset” and the ability to adapt to an ever-evolving field.
  • The Importance of Culture: Many hiring managers prioritize cultural fit over specific technical knowledge, believing the latter can be learned. Finding someone who integrates well with the team is essential for long-term success.
  • Thinking Outside the Box: Gerry from Bugcrowd suggests exploring non-traditional channels to discover hidden talent. This includes considering candidates who lack certain certifications or extensive experience.

Navigating the Complex Cybersecurity Hiring Landscape: What You Need to Know

Cybersecurity Hiring Managers With thousands of job openings and a surge in tech professionals seeking cybersecurity careers, you might think that hiring managers have an easy time finding the right talent. However, the reality is far more complex.

A study published by ISACA, involving over 2,100 of its members, revealed that while relations between cybersecurity hiring managers and HR departments have improved, 71 percent of organizations still have unfilled positions across various job types. Additionally, only 26 percent of hiring managers believe that half of their applicants are well-qualified, and 72 percent emphasize the importance of previous experience. Notably, the most significant skill gaps are in soft skills like communication, writing, and adapting to company culture.

The Cybersecurity Hiring Dilemma

The cybersecurity job market faces a push-and-pull dynamic. Organizations need experienced professionals with specific certifications and skills, yet many positions remain unfilled, creating critical security gaps. This situation is exacerbated by a narrow focus on certifications and experience, limiting the talent pool and reducing diversity.

According to Dave Gerry, CEO of Bugcrowd, the cybersecurity industry is grappling with an estimated 3.5 million unfilled jobs, a situation unlikely to improve by 2025. Gerry points out that by overemphasizing certifications and experience, employers are missing out on high-potential talent from diverse and non-traditional backgrounds.

What Cybersecurity Hiring Managers Are Looking For

To better understand what hiring managers are looking for, Dice interviewed several experts in the field. Here are some key insights:

Technical Skills Are Essential… But Not Everything

John Pirc, Vice President at Netenrich, emphasizes the importance of candidates who understand SaaS and cloud applications. However, he also values experience and cultural fit, noting that the right candidate must demonstrate adaptability and a breadth of experience.

Pirc adds, “In writing job descriptions for my team, I’m looking for a particular set of skills that are a must and some that are nice to have. Lastly, I look for culture fit and a great EQ.”

The Growing Importance of AI Skills

Knowledge and mastery of artificial intelligence (AI), including generative AI, machine learning, and augmented intelligence, are increasingly important. Bugcrowd’s Gerry highlights the need for candidates to learn about leveraging AI for security use cases, AI security, AI safety, and AI bias training.

Budget Constraints and Diverse Roles

Cybersecurity Hiring Managers Satyam Tyagi, Vice President at ColorTokens, notes that budget constraints often influence hiring decisions. Organizations look for tech professionals with diverse backgrounds who can fill multiple roles and stretch budget dollars.

“There is a need to find people who can cover multiple roles and fill the gaps, which can be hard to find in the competitive market,” Tyagi says. He also emphasizes the importance of a learning mindset and adaptability in the dynamic field of cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity Hiring Managers

The Importance of Cultural Fit

For many hiring managers, cultural fit is crucial. Candidates who show promise, ambition, and the ability to blend into the larger culture can often learn specific technical skills on the job. Guy Rosenthal, Vice President for Product at DoControl, stresses the importance of evaluating cultural fit through panel interviews and understanding a candidate’s willingness to learn cultural alignment and soft skills.

Rosenthal explains, “Hiring managers have an objective set of qualification criteria and a fair evaluation process for soft and subjective skills so that as much personal bias as possible is removed from the process.”

Exploring Non-Traditional Talent Pools

Cybersecurity Hiring Managers Organizations are increasingly looking outside traditional channels to find cybersecurity talent. This includes considering candidates without the usual certifications and skills but who show potential and a willingness to learn.

John A. Smith, Founder and CSO of Conversant Group, shares a success story of promoting an intern to full-time work based on technical acumen, willingness to learn, and a good attitude. “He did not come to us with much technical knowledge, but he learned it here and had the capacity and willingness to commit the time,” Smith notes.

“A Manager Position Awaits You Once You Pass The Exam:


Why is there a shortage of cybersecurity professionals?

The shortage of cybersecurity professionals is due to a combination of factors, including a high demand for specialized skills, the rapid evolution of cybersecurity threats, and a narrow focus on certifications and experience that limits the talent pool.

What skills are most in demand for cybersecurity roles?

Cybersecurity Hiring Managers In-demand skills for cybersecurity roles include technical expertise in areas like SaaS and cloud applications, AI, machine learning, and augmented intelligence. Additionally, soft skills such as communication, writing, and cultural adaptability are highly valued.

How can candidates improve their chances of being hired in cybersecurity?

Candidates can improve their chances by gaining relevant technical skills, obtaining certifications, demonstrating adaptability, and developing strong soft skills. It’s also important to show a willingness to learn and fit well with the organization’s culture.

Why is cultural fit important in cybersecurity hiring?

Cultural fit is important because it ensures that new hires can integrate smoothly into the team and the organization. A good cultural fit leads to better teamwork, higher job satisfaction, and increased productivity.

What are some alternative pathways to a cybersecurity career?

Cybersecurity Hiring Managers Alternative pathways to a cybersecurity career include internships, apprenticeships, and non-traditional educational backgrounds. Employers are increasingly recognizing the value of diverse experiences and are open to candidates who demonstrate potential and a willingness to learn.

How can organizations attract a more diverse cybersecurity talent pool?

Organizations can attract a more diverse talent pool by broadening their hiring criteria, focusing less on traditional certifications and more on potential, and actively seeking candidates from underrepresented and non-traditional backgrounds.

Cybersecurity Hiring Managers Understanding the complexities of the cybersecurity hiring landscape is crucial for both job seekers and hiring managers. By focusing on a combination of technical skills, cultural fit, and potential, organizations can find the right talent to protect against ever-evolving threats.

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