It Takes All Kinds: Identifying New Sources of Cybersecurity Talent

National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) highlights important security issues to help governments, businesses and individuals improve their online hygiene. One critical area to consider is the growing shortage of qualified security professionals, which is projected to reach 6 million unfilled positions across the globe by 2019. There are plenty of opportunities for smart people to pursue cybersecurity careers, and they don’t even necessarily need to have experience to qualify and make a difference.

Where to Find Cybersecurity Talent

Understanding cybersecurity is much like understanding any kind of technology subject. While not everyone who can operate a computer is a good candidate for a career in cybersecurity, individuals with experience in some areas of computing may be qualified for an entry-level position with a fast path to advancement.

Everyone should participate in the task of identifying people who have the potential to protect our computing infrastructure and privacy. Below are five sources of talent for IT hiring managers to tap into when recruiting qualified candidates for cybersecurity careers.

1. Software Developers

Software developers may be the most obvious and best source of potential cyber talent because there are overlapping skills that can translate easily to security. Begin by evaluating software developers and data specialists. Their understanding of the internals of software and how it is structured gives them an edge.

2. Military Veterans

Military experience is another good starting point to find potential cybersecurity recruits because of the discipline and structure inherent in their training. Even though there are plenty of technical areas in the armed forces, most people in the military only deal with technology as it relates to their specialties. Look for veterans who have used advanced technology as part of their duties. That kind of experience can go a long way toward understanding cybersecurity issues.

3. Women

Women comprise only about 11 percent of the cybersecurity workforce and have attained higher levels of education in the field than men. As cyberthreats increase, a more diverse workforce with varied perspectives and experiences can help uncover more cyberattacks sooner. Look for job candidates in organizations that focus on women’s careers, such as Women in Technology International (WITI).

4. Nontechnical Employees

Employees in nontechnical areas of the enterprise can still be interested in the cyber solutions they use every day. It is easier to enable a current employee to move laterally or even vertically within the organization than to bring in a new hire. Promote cybersecurity on an enterprisewide level and encourage interested nontechnical employees to ask questions and apply for open positions.

5. Hackathon Contestants

Hackathons may seem like an obvious place to find people who are knowledgeable about cybersecurity, but many of the participants are amateurs honing their skills on the side while working other day jobs. In general, the people who participate in hacking challenges have both the interest and aptitude to understand the internals of computing and security systems.

Spread the Word

The most important activity for IT hiring managers to undertake in the search to fill open cybersecurity jobs is to get the word out. Let people who may not otherwise pursue cybersecurity careers know that these highly mobile and frequently high-paying jobs are available and must be filled to keep everyone safe from cyberthreats.

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Consider a Career in Cybersecurity

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Scott Koegler

Freelance Writer and Former CIO

Scott Koegler practiced IT as a CIO for 15 years. He also has more than 20 years experience as a technology journalist covering topics ranging from software and services through business strategy. Scott publishes ec-bp.com, a supply chain industry newsletter and has written for publications including Network Computing, Forbes, Internet Evolution, and many others.