In today’s digital landscape, organisations face an ever-increasing threat of cyberattacks. Since 2019, the number of cyberattacks globally has increased at least threefold. In the last year, 32% of businesses in the UK have experienced a cyber breach or attack.
Protecting sensitive data and ensuring the integrity of critical systems has become a top priority for businesses across all industries. To mitigate these risks, hiring skilled cyber security professionals is essential.
However, many organisations struggle to find and retain talent in this highly competitive field. One of the primary challenges you may face is being able to identify candidates that are qualified to take on the role you’re hiring for.
Let’s take a closer look at the problem, and discuss how you can solve it…
The Problem: Identifying qualified candidates
It’s difficult to find qualified candidates for your cyber security workforce, partly due to a lack of professionals in the talent pool. With a huge shortfall of cyber security professionals, if you need someone with specific skills, experience, and certifications, you need to know exactly what you’re looking for. The difficulty with finding qualified candidates, however, can also be due to discrepancies and confusion over what the role actually involves.
Often, different employers will advertise different capabilities and qualifications for the same role. Solving the disconnect between the needs of the cyber security team, and then the job description that is put out to the talent pool, is a great starting point on your mission to find the best qualified candidate for your role. Let’s look at some of the other solutions…
Define clear job roles and responsibilities
Before embarking on the hiring process, it is crucial to clearly define the roles and responsibilities for each cybersecurity position within your organisation.
Create detailed job descriptions that outline the required technical skills, certifications, and experience levels. This will help you identify the most important requirements when hiring for a role, and how each member of your cyber security team can cover the bases, and compliment each other in terms of the skills and technical proficiencies they possess.
Behavioural and technical interviews
The interview process is the most important phase of the hiring process when it comes to determining if the candidate you want to hire is qualified for the job. So, it’s important to get it right.
Multiple stages and extensive practical tasks can put candidates off. Particularly if you’re advertising for a contract position, rather than a permanent. Contractors expect a one-stage interview, two maximum, as the hiring process should be much quicker in general.
So it’s important to find the balance. Structure your interview process to cover both the technical and behavioural skills you want to assess, but don’t extend the process unnecessarily.
Leverage certifications and educational background
Professional certifications and relevant education/qualifications can provide valuable insights into a candidate’s knowledge and commitment to the field. You can find out which cyber security qualifications are deemed the most valuable here.
While certifications alone are not sufficient to guarantee competence, they serve as a strong indicator of a candidate’s dedication and ongoing professional development. Beware of setting your expectations in this area too high, however. Remember, qualifications can be gained at any time, but there are a lot of other skills that are not so easily taught.
Seek out relevant experience
Experience in the field of cybersecurity is highly valuable. Look for candidates who have practical experience in areas such as incident response, penetration testing, vulnerability management, network security, or security operations, depending on the role you are recruiting for. Prior experience allows candidates to bring a depth of understanding and practical insights into the role. Assess their accomplishments, the scope of their responsibilities, and their ability to adapt to evolving threats.
It’s also worth noting that even if you deem someone underqualified for the job due to lack of experience, it doesn’t have to be the end of the road. Technical proficiencies can be taught, but there are plenty of valuable ‘soft skills’ to look for in candidates, and also plenty of candidates who have experience within more general IT roles that could have valuable transferable skills. If you are struggling to hire the right talent, you could focus more on these areas, and offer training and development once the role has started, to ensure your new employee becomes qualified for the role as quickly as possible.
Conduct thorough reference checks
This is not an area you want to skimp on. Reference checks are essential to validate a candidate’s claims and gain insight into their work ethic, collaboration skills, and reliability. Reach out to their former employers, colleagues, or supervisors to gather feedback on their performance, their ability to handle challenges, and their overall professionalism. Reference checks provide a more holistic perspective on a candidate’s capabilities and suitability for the role. If you’re working with a recruitment consultancy, like Focus on Security, they’ll be able to help you with this.
Partner with a cyber security recruitment consultancy
This can streamline your hiring process, and save you time and money. A reputable, specialist recruitment consultancy can partner with you to help form the right job description, screen candidates, structure your interview process, and introduce you to their network of cyber security professionals who have the skills, qualifications and experience you are looking for.
At Focus on Security, we dedicate 100% of our time to cyber security recruitment, so we really are the experts in our field. If you’d like to partner with us to help you with your hiring process, and find you the candidates we know will be qualified for the roles on your team, get in touch today.