Tips for Hiring and Training a Cybersecurity Specialist
The news is full of dismal comments about how few cybersecurity professionals exist for the demand. James Trainor, acting assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division was quoted recently as saying cybersecurity industry needs to double or triple its workforce in order to keep up with hacking threats. Significant data breaches are now reported to the FBI every 2-3 days, increased from previously every 2-3 weeks.
Employee training must be a cybersecurity focus
Rather than continuing this negativity, we should start rapid deployment of people much as we learned how to build Liberty ships during World War II. Our best time was a complete ship, the SS Robert E. Peary, built in 4 days, 15 hours, 29 minutes. Proven, but frequently unused, accelerated approaches to hiring and training are necessary. We need to look for the right raw materials – skills, talent, mind set and provide the right “shipyard” environment for building specialists.
Earlier in my career, I managed a technology unit and needed to hire dozens of talented people in a short period of time. I realized that I needed to find talented people and then train them. My human resources department and my managers aggressively recruited everywhere – local colleges, job fairs, friends of co-workers, and job boards. My team became very good at identifying the talents we required. We then developed an in-house training program and assigned mentors. We organized our staff into teams so we had experienced employees with our newer team members working on projects. The experienced staff acted as mentors to the new hires.
This was not new management thinking even then; it certainly is not new today. But many companies seems to have forgotten that a company can hire talent and then train to meet the business’s needs.
Talents that Businesses Should Consider
For cybersecurity, basic talent and mind set characteristics should include:
• Ability to think cr
Employee training must be a cybersecurity focus
• Ability to learn
• Ability to apply logic
• Project management understanding – how to tackle an assignment in sequential steps, how to plan contingencies
• Ability to identify patterns
• A strong company cultural fit
Hiring managers should also look for diversity – in previous experiences and future career desires. They can find talent ready for a career shift in school teachers, compliance officers, technology analysts, business entrepreneurs, financial analysts, and former military people. Mangers should also be open to recruiting all ages. Many people in their 50s and 60s are just as technically savvy as people in their 20s and 30s.
Invest in Training
Businesses need to invest in training their employees. Not enough people are already skilled in cybersecurity, so companies need to invest in training. Just as a business might purchase a great piece of real estate for its next warehouse or office building, it invests in building the right structure. Even if the business leases existing office space, it usually invests in customizing the space for its unique purpose and style. Businesses should do no less for its employees.
Companies need to plan on training throughout the employee’s career. Cybersecurity is constantly changing, so new skills and knowledge will be constantly needed.
With the ease of online training and broad selection, any size business can fund training in cybersecurity. Excelsior College, for example, offers these online education programs:
• Undergraduate Cybersecurity Certificate
• Graduate Cybersecurity Management Certificate
• Bachelor of Science in Cyber Operations
• Bachelor of Science in Information Technology/Cybersecurity
• Master of Science in Cybersecurity
Excelsior College accepts many previously earned credits including credit for approved corporate and military training, and professional IT certifications. Its students range across all ages.
Employers that invest in their employees’ education often find strong loyalty in their employees.
Thriving companies understand the value of mentors. They build capacity in their employees for the future. Mentoring is a fabulous way for knowledge transference from experienced to new staff members. Mentoring efforts don’t have to be formal or complex. Companies can ask each experienced person to establish an approach that works best for both parties.
Mentors can even be in another company. Consider aligning with another company for shared mentors or reach out to a college to see if they have people that can assist.
In summary, focus on these three tips to grow your own skilled team members:
• Hire talent, not necessarily experience
• Invest in training
• Provide mentors
Don’t let the size of your company limit your ability to hire and nurture the cybersecurity people you need for today and the future. Cyber-attacks are continuing to negatively impact all businesses, so make the commitment for on-going protection.
If you are interested in earning a cybersecurity certificate or degree, please visit the National Cybersecurity Institute Programs page.