The Cyber Skills Gap Means Plenty of Opportunity for Job Seekers

We’ve got a major shortage when it comes to the cyber workforce: It’s estimated it would need to grow 65 percent to meet current staffing needs. And this shortage is already impacting companies significantly. The upshot of this for those looking to find a new career or advance their existing one is that there is a lot of opportunity – and organizations are making investments in training and looking beyond traditional channels.

Let’s take a look at the impact of this skills shortage and how it’s creating new possibilities for job-seekers like you.

The Cyber Skills Gap and Its Impact

IT teams have had to quickly adjust to remote and hybrid work methods over the last two years. While the task was difficult, most businesses were protected by their ability to adapt. Unfortunately, as the number of remote and hybrid work arrangements has grown, so has the threat landscape. To deal with an increasingly harsh reality, IT staff had to respond rapidly.

Not only did cybersecurity risks increase, but the industry is still grappling with a significant skills gap. The global cybersecurity workforce must grow by 65 percent to properly defend vital digital assets, according to the (ISC)2 Cyber Workforce Report for 2021. While the number of experts required to fill the gap has declined in the last year from 3.12 million to 2.72 million, it remains a considerable deficit that puts enterprises at risk.

How vulnerable? A survey found that eight out of 10 businesses responding to the survey had experienced at least one data breach that can be traced back to a lack of cybersecurity skills or knowledge. The survey also found that 64 percent of respondents have suffered data breaches that resulted in recovery costs, revenue loss and/or fines.

Closing the Gap

For employers, key to solving this talent shortage is finding and retaining new people—but clearly that’s easier said than done. The onus, therefore, is on employers to look beyond traditional pipelines to find the talent they need to secure their networks.

Employers need to find untapped talent for the cybersecurity workforce. They must consider hiring, mentoring and upskilling people within their organization who are already invested in the field and are keen to learn and grow. But they can also fill their open positions by looking to non-traditional hiring pools, including women, those early in their careers, and veterans.

For job seekers, there is a huge opportunity in cybersecurity, and while employers and the industry at large certainly must be responsible for removing the barriers to entry, there are also some perceptions that need to change. For instance, so-called soft skills are very much needed in this field, too. Previous research found that some of the top-cited skills employees are looking for in cybersecurity job roles are analytical skills, leadership and collaboration.

How Certifications and Training can Advance Your Career

For job seekers, training and certifications can offer an easier path that doesn’t necessarily require going back to school. Technology-focused credentials, according to 95 percent of decision-makers, have a beneficial impact on both their role and their team. Consequently, 81 percent of leaders prefer to hire candidates who have certifications.

What’s more, there are ways to get this training or certification paid for. Of those for hiring cybersecurity staff, 78 percent indicate it’s hard to find certified people. That’s why 89 percent of organizations are willing to pay for the training and certification of their employees. Though some workers might not feel that certifications are required for their role, Dice’s latest tech salary report found that highly specialized certs can help job candidates demonstrate their skillsets to hiring managers and recruiters.

Certifications can also give you leverage when it comes to negotiating salary, benefits and responsibilities. Again, that’s because companies don’t want to lose the few qualified technical staff they have.

Cybersecurity for All

The cybersecurity talent gap isn’t just about the industry—it’s about every company that needs cybersecurity, which is essentially all of them. It’s a field that is both deep and wide, boasting a huge variety of roles that offer satisfying work at competitive rates. Because cyber criminals will never rest, cybersecurity professionals have job security and the opportunity for lifelong learning.

With millions of positions to fill, this field offers tremendous opportunities to those already in it and to those who may not have previously considered a career in cybersecurity. This includes women and former armed services personnel. With many employers offering to pay for training and certifications, there’s nothing but upside for job seekers looking to make a change.

Sandra Wheatley is senior vice president, threat intelligence, marketing and influencer communications at Fortinet.