The skills shortage in technical professions is becoming more and more of an issue. This has also been documented by a study recently performed in Germany. In particular, IT experts are apparently desperately sought after to shape the digital revolution within companies. This is no different in cyber security circles. And rightly so: Even we experts are finding it increasingly difficult to find suitably qualified specialists. No wonder, the complexity and challenges of cyber security have changed enormously in recent years. The combination of a skills shortage and the battle to recruit the best is less than ideal. Same problem? Read on! In part one, I reveal how you can hold on to your previously discovered (personnel) gems.
Make use of existing knowledge and develop selectively
According to the study mentioned, there is a particular shortage of qualified experts in mathematics, IT, natural sciences and technology (“MINT”). In April 2018, this “MINT shortage” reached an all-time high since the surveys began in 2011. Although the study concerned Germany, the situation in Switzerland is similar. This makes it all the more important to make use of employees’ know-how and develop selectively – because no one is just born a master of their trade. The goal here is to specifically promote cyber security trainees as well. You undoubtedly already have talents within your company whose full potential remains to be developed. Often there are just a few pieces of the puzzle missing or help from superiors and internal mentors is required.
Back these talents! After all, a) your staff are an extremely valuable asset, and b) happy employees are the best advertising for your company. So create an environment where your employees feel comfortable – and want to stay with you. How? Here are my three top tips:
1. Quench the thirst for knowledge
Cyber security is more than just a profession. It’s a calling. Genuine IT geeks are fascinated by and enthusiastic about technology – me included! – right down to the very last fibre. Our built-in motivation is curiosity and mastering seemingly impossible challenges. To satisfy this yearning, we constantly seek to break new ground and develop our skills. I would therefore urge you to:
- Ensure variety and offer your employees different projects. Additional benefits for you: an increase in the flexibility and know-how within your team.
- Quench the thirst for knowledge with training and conference visits. Refuelled with new information and inspiration, your team will soon go on to achieve success.
- It is best to allow for such measures in the budget from the outset to prevent any shortfall – or them being forgotten in the day-to-day chaos.
Picture 1: The motivation-scheme of IT-specialists
2. Acknowledge commitment
Work-life balance is a notion even for us cyber security experts. But most apply a different definition to it than you will find in a dictionary. Because cyber security does not stop at 17:00. We continue to work on it in the evenings, at weekends and even in the holidays. We have also established social networks over the years in which we exchange information (and have also invested a lot of money in equipment during that time in order to experiment with it).
Give our commitment the acknowledgement it deserves. This means not only direct praise but also taking our recommendations and suggestions seriously and implementing them. All of that is often more valuable than remuneration and prestige.
3. Recognise and promote talents
(Unfortunately) even good managers do not just appear out of the blue. They should recognise skills and talents and put them to optimum use. That way, both they and their employees will be happy. Encourage your staff and support them in their further development. And always remember: each and every one of your employees is a specialist in at least one area. No one expects you to have detailed knowledge of all of these areas – certainly not us. What I mean by that is: trust in our skills even when you don’t understand everything or think differently. Because power struggles and friction in the workplace are rarely helpful and distract from the important matters. First and foremost, your cyber security experts want to solve logical and technical problems, not ones between people. As a company, therefore, create a work environment that supports this as much as possible – even if this means stepping out of your comfort zone.
Step 2: detection and training of cyber security talents
Of course, none of these tips are guaranteed to reduce the skills shortage within your company, but if you follow them, there is a good chance you will have faithful, loyal and motivated employees who will happily work with you in the long term.
One important point regarding the security skills shortage is the recognition of talented cyber security experts and, in particular, their training. Find out what you need to do and take into account in part two of my blog series! Don’t want to miss it? Subscribe to our blog updates now and receive all future blog posts quickly and conveniently in your inbox!
We speak your language – careers at InfoGuard
Whether you are a qualified expert yourself or just an obsessed cyber security geek: at InfoGuard, we speak your language. Over 100 employees ensure our clients’ security every day. So, there is never a shortage of things to talk about and challenges to overcome! If you would like to be a part of an inspirational, highly motivated and qualified team, send us your application. My colleagues and I look forward to hearing from you!
1: Joshua Corman (2017), "Where Bits & Bytes Meet Flesh and Blood"