The lack of skilled cybersecurity professionals puts companies at risk. According to ISACA, the current cybersecurity skills gap leaves 1 in 4 organizations exposed to vulnerabilities for six months or more. And there’s no quick fix on the horizon: Despite new training programs and specialized roles for security experts, the distance between supply and demand is growing.

To help bridge the gap, many business are changing their approach, opting for best fit combinations of experience and personality over hard qualifications. But is this enough to shore up the cybersecurity jobs market?

Filling Cybersecurity Jobs With a New Outlook

One option for companies looking to improve their infosecurity outlook is the “new collar” movement, which focuses on both skills and specializations. New collar initiatives start with training programs aimed at precollege technology students, which first establishes a relationship and then provides key skills to succeed in the cybersecurity world. Additionally, new collar programs redefine employee roles, profiles and partnerships to create new staff sources, and they prioritize hands-on knowledge over more traditional degree tracks.

SC Magazine noted that other organizations are turning to advanced technology in a bid to close the skills gap. If companies can automate some of their critical security processes, IT experts can focus their efforts elsewhere to enhance total network defense.

One-third of ISACA survey respondents said they could use more intelligent IT security products, while a staggering 90 percent pointed to the need for IT staff to become more business savvy. Spending money on new technology or full-time employees must be communicated to the C-suite in ways that effectively highlight both business use cases and long-term return on investment.

Changing of the Guard

Businesses are also well-served by considering new talent pools to help fill open cybersecurity positions. Information Age explained, for example, women are significantly under-represented in the security industry, comprising just 11 percent of the security workforce.

What’s more, they’re often paid less for the same work while boasting better qualifications than their male counterparts. Savvy companies are taking advantage of this imbalance by encouraging women to pursue cybersecurity careers and ensuring the offered salary matches ability.

Another untapped source? Veterans. CSO Online said companies like managed security provider Proficio argue that “servicemen and women who have worked in intelligence gathering, communications and on submarines are ideal candidates for cybersecurity positions.” Why? Because they’ve been exposed to enterprise-class software in a team-driven environment and come with a natural predilection for dedication, professionalism and teamwork.

Again, this trends toward an emphasis on experience over traditional education for cybersecurity jobs. While veterans may not have the same qualifications of recent college grads on paper, they’ve proven themselves capable of handling stressful situations, respecting the chain of command and recognizing the value of the data and networks they guard. Given the difficulty many veterans experience in transitioning from public defense to private sector, this represents an ideal opportunity for businesses to help these candidates recognize their potential and simultaneously shore up network defense.

Closing the Skills Gap

The cybersecurity skills gap isn’t going away. If anything, it’s getting wider as more advanced malware and ransomware threats invade the market. Companies need to get creative. Consider experience instead of formal education and embrace the value of automated security technology.

Better yet? Opt for new collar professionals. From the burgeoning cadre of female security experts to highly skilled veterans, it’s possible to find security best fits and fill critical cybersecurity jobs.

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