hiring cybersecurity professionals

Effective Strategies for Hiring Cybersecurity Professionals

As cyberattacks continue to surge and data leaks become increasingly common, companies and governments are ramping up their efforts to enhance computer security. However, this heightened focus on security is making the task of hiring cybersecurity professionals a bit more challenging.

Despite a slowdown in the overall tech industry, there are currently 3.5 million job openings in the cybersecurity field. With such high demand, companies are encountering difficulties in sourcing cybersecurity experts. In this article, we provide an overview of the most common sources of hire and effective strategies for recruiting cybersecurity professionals.

Understanding the Challenge of Hiring in Tech Security

The number of global cybersecurity job openings skyrocketed by a staggering 350%, surging from one million in 2013 to a whopping 3.5 million in 2021 – and there’s a good reason for it. Companies are more inclined to downsize their development capabilities than reduce the size of their security teams. Sourcing, hiring, and training cybersecurity professionals is a formidable challenge, as they demand a high level of expertise.

Hiring in a highly competitive market with a talent shortage requires not only skills but also a broad network and a creative approach to sourcing. Companies must concentrate on identifying effective sourcing channels and reaching out to more diverse talent pools, as demand for cybersecurity professionals is expected to increase by 35% until 2031. 

There’s a persistent challenge that tech security companies face: the cybersecurity talent shortage. Let’s delve into the key reasons behind this shortage and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges hiring managers encounter.

1. Rapid Technological Advancements

The digital world is constantly evolving, and with each advancement, new vulnerabilities and threats emerge. Cybersecurity, as a field, must adapt to these changes swiftly. The rapid pace of technological development often outpaces the education and training of cybersecurity professionals, leaving organizations struggling to find individuals with the latest skills and knowledge.

2. Complexity of Cyber Threats

Cyber threats have become increasingly sophisticated and diverse. From ransomware attacks to data breaches and insider threats, cybersecurity professionals must possess a wide range of specialized skills to defend against these risks effectively. This complexity makes it difficult to find individuals who can tackle all facets of cybersecurity.

3. Lack of Education and Training Programs

While cybersecurity is recognized as a critical field, there’s still a shortage of formal education and training programs that can produce a sufficient number of qualified professionals. Universities and training institutions are working to address this gap, but it takes time to develop comprehensive curricula and produce graduates who are job-ready.

4. High Demand and Competitive Salaries

The demand for cybersecurity professionals has led to intense competition among employers. Tech giants, financial institutions, government agencies, and countless other organizations are all vying for the same talent pool. As a result, salaries in the cybersecurity field are among the highest in the IT industry, making it challenging for smaller companies and startups to compete for top talent.

5. Evolving Regulatory Requirements

Regulatory bodies worldwide are continuously updating data protection and cybersecurity regulations. Compliance is non-negotiable for businesses, and this places additional pressure on organizations to find experts who can navigate the complex landscape of regulatory requirements while maintaining robust security measures.

6. Lack of Diversity in the Field

The cybersecurity industry has historically struggled with a lack of diversity. A more inclusive approach to recruitment can help tap into a broader talent pool, but it requires a concerted effort to break down barriers and promote diversity within the field.

Focusing on effective sources of hire will save you both time and money, but also provide a competitive advantage in search for talent. 

Exploring your options for Cybersecurity Recruitment 

  • Job boards and company websites: Posting on job boards casts a wide net. Your success in converting and hiring through job boards and company websites depends greatly on your employer branding. As you are likely aware, in a talent shortage scenario, it’s rare to find highly qualified candidates actively seeking employment. Moreover, those who are open to new opportunities are often reliant on their professional networks for referrals, leading us to the next source of hiring.
  • Internal referrals represent an excellent and cost-effective means of tapping into your employees’ networks. However, this source of hire can diminish over time as your employees’ networks have their limitations. While an employee referral program is a valuable recruitment tool, it can inadvertently result in a disparate impact on certain protected groups if employees predominantly refer candidates from the same race, religion, national origin, or any other protected category.
  • Social media hiring can be effective if you already have a well-established online presence, especially for roles other than cybersecurity. Cybersecurity professionals, for the most part, tend to maintain a low online profile unless they are influencers. Even if they do have an online presence, it’s often under an anonymous account, making it challenging to identify and reach out to them. The talent pool on recruitment networks like LinkedIn or XING is limited, requiring considerable effort to target qualified candidates, which will increase your time to hire.
  • Recruitment agency is another viable option that can bring in external referrals. These agencies typically cultivate candidate relationships and maintain a database of candidates who may not be easily accessible through other hiring sources. External recruiters can serve as a valuable bridge, connecting you with local hiring managers and information security leaders who are otherwise hard to reach. However, it’s important to note that this approach will impact your hiring costs.

Unlocking the potential of external referrals

Here’s the deal with external referrals: they’re effective. Why? Because people refer candidates to your organization for two simple reasons: either they’re good friends or genuinely caring individuals, or they have the opportunity to earn money by doing so.

Referral programs have proven to be superior to alternative employee recruitment methods, achieving a remarkable hiring success rate of approximately 30%, a substantial improvement when compared to the average 7% success rate seen with other channels.

These referral programs are termed “external” as they engage individuals who are not presently employed by the company. These individuals are incentivized to introduce potential candidates from their personal or professional circles who may align well with the company’s needs.

External referrals represent the easiest way to tap into a talent pool that might otherwise be out of your reach and connect with passive candidates. Passive talent isn’t actively job hunting, so they won’t be randomly browsing job boards or checking out your company’s website to discover your job openings. However, if a friend reaches out to them about a job opportunity at your company, they might just be interested in taking on a new challenge.

Hiring cybersecurity professionals through external referrals can offer numerous benefits for tech security companies. Here’s a list of some key advantages:

  1. Access to a Qualified Talent Pool: External referrals can connect you to a network of candidates who have been recommended by trusted sources within the industry, ensuring that you have access to pre-screened, qualified candidates.
  2. Quality and Reliability: Referrals often come with a strong endorsement from the referrer, which can enhance confidence in the candidate’s skills, experience, and reliability.
  3. Cultural Fit: Referred candidates are more likely to align with your company’s culture and values because they have a connection within the organization who can vouch for cultural fit.
  4. Faster Hiring Process: Since referred candidates are typically pre-screened and vetted to some extent, the hiring process can be expedited, reducing time-to-fill critical cybersecurity roles.
  5. Cost Savings: External referrals can lead to cost savings in recruitment efforts. You may spend less on advertising, job boards, and recruitment agencies when you rely on employee referrals.
  6. Higher Retention Rates: Employees who come through referrals tend to have higher job satisfaction and stay longer with the company because they are more likely to be well-suited to the role and the organization.
  7. Diverse Perspectives: External referrals can also bring diversity to your cybersecurity team, as they may have different backgrounds and experiences than your existing employees.
  8. Increased Trust and Collaboration: Candidates referred by current employees are more likely to trust and collaborate effectively with their colleagues, enhancing teamwork and communication within your cybersecurity team.
  9. Enhanced Security: Referred candidates may be more security-conscious and aware of potential threats, which can contribute to bolstering your company’s cybersecurity posture.
  10. Positive Employee Engagement: When employees see their referrals getting hired, it can boost their morale and engagement, as they feel a sense of pride and contribution to the company’s growth.
  11. Cost-Effective Recruitment: External referrals are a cost-effective way to find top talent because you can rely on your current employees’ networks instead of spending on expensive recruitment methods.
  12. Reduced Risk: Referred candidates often have a lower risk of being a poor fit for the organization since they are familiar with the company’s culture and expectations.
  13. Stronger Employer Brand: A thriving employee referral program can enhance your company’s reputation as a desirable place to work, attracting more talent in the long run.
  14. Innovative Ideas: External referrals can bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to your cybersecurity team, helping to stay ahead in the ever-evolving field of cybersecurity.
  15. Easier Onboarding: Candidates referred by current employees may have an easier transition into the organization since they already have a connection and source of support within the company.

Leveraging external referrals can significantly increase your chances of reaching passive talent and optimize your overall hiring strategy. However, even experienced hiring managers are struggling to build a comprehensive and effective external referral program. These programs require them to define the program and incentives, but also promote that program and engage alumni and industry professionals. 

Run your program with referral recruitment software

Referral recruitment software is a tool that enables you to 

With Recrooit, a specialized referral-based recruiting platform, can significantly streamline and automate your referral process. Recrooit empowers you to effortlessly launch a referral program, manage the referrals and applicants, and promptly provide rewards when these referrals result in successful hires. Furthermore, Recrooit allows you to 

Our community of thousands professionals will then tap into their networks to source and refer qualified candidates for your vacant positions and help you reach and hire cybersecurity professionals. 

Recrooit allows you to launch a whole referral recruitment campaign in three easy steps: 

  1. Add job description 
  2. Set the bounty 
  3. Share the link on your social media 

After you’ve successfully launched the campaign, you’ll be able to easily monitor and manage both applicants and referrals. 

ESA gaming HR manager Maja testimonial on recrooit reaching people with niche skills

Start hiring in 60 seconds. It’s free. 

Crafting Your Winning Cybersecurity Hiring Strategy

External referral programs are a powerful talent acquisition strategy. While other recruiting strategies require established employer branding, referrals can elevate your recruitment efforts and expand your reach to a pool of qualified cybersecurity professionals. This not only helps you identify and source qualified candidates, but it also fosters a community of advocates who champion your company and its culture. 

Additionally, external referrals are time efficient and cost-effective. They streamline the candidate sourcing and screening process, reducing the time and resources required. This approach is especially valuable for filling challenging positions, especially with a shortage of qualified professionals with specialized skill requirements.

The success of external referral programs hinges on the strength of personal networks. And who knows more cybersecurity professionals than other cybersecurity professionals?  Every individual possesses a unique network of contacts, each holding the potential to be your next standout hire. By harnessing these networks, you can connect with potential candidates who might not actively seek job opportunities but align perfectly with your company. Enhance your competitive advantage with this talent acquisition strategy.