Global hiring experts declare huge shortages of cybersecurity professionals, so why are some qualified people still having such a hard time finding a job or even getting an interview? Let’s explore.
Last week, I posted a CNBC technology article on LinkedIn titled: ‘We are outnumbered’ — cybersecurity pros face a huge staffing shortage as attacks surge during the pandemic.
The article starts with this video claiming that there is a tremendous shortage of about 4 million skilled workers needed for cyber jobs. Here’s an excerpt:
“The group reported in late 2019 that 2.8 million professionals work in cybersecurity jobs globally, but the industry would need another 4 million trained workers in order to properly defend organizations and close the skills gap. That includes about half a million workers needed in the U.S. to meet demand. A separate survey of more than 300 cybersecurity professionals from ISSA shows that 70% of organizations report being impacted by the worker shortage and 45% of respondents say the cybersecurity skills shortage and its associated impacts have only gotten worse in recent years. …”
I suspect this story will not surprise most readers. In fact, this "cyber pro shortage" trend has existed for several years. I wrote about this issue in 2012 and in 2016 and spoke with my friend John McCumber from ISC2 about this topic in a BrightTalk webcast last year. Numerous other more recent stories provide a similar message. Consider these headlines:
“Not True” – Or - “Experts Can’t Find Jobs”
When I posted these articles, most people agreed; however, a significant minority disagreed. Here are some quotes from LinkedIn comments, with the author names removed:
How Can We Reconcile These Two Different Perspectives?
In my experience, comments similar to those listed above, have been with us for at least the past decade, well before the current pandemic. However, the pandemic may have made things even worse as organizations curtail hiring due to budget constraints or other business difficulties. I am writing this blog after hearing more than a few respected industry colleagues argue that this abundance of cybersecurity jobs simply do not exist.
Simply stated, these good people cannot get hired in a cyber job. Going much further, they argue that select organizations (who discuss millions of unfilled jobs) are pushing their own training agendas, certifications offered, want to boost certain company stock prices or have other reasons to encourage this “abundance of cyber jobs remain vacant” narrative, even though it is not true, in their opinion.
I want to be clear up front that, I disagree with this narrative. I do believe that many (perhaps millions but we can argue the numbers in another blog) global cybersecurity job vacancies do exist. Nevertheless, I truly sympathize with these people who disagree, and I want to try and help as many as I can find employment. I also want hiring managers to set proper expectations.
In addition to my blogs and articles, I have personally mentored and helped dozens of people find cyber jobs, from high school students to new college graduates to CISOs and CSOs. (Note: this is not my "day job" but one way I try to give back to the security community – just like so many others are doing as well.) I also champion ways that government CISOs struggle in this area, and how tech leaders can find more cyber talent.
I realize that it is very frustrating for anyone who is unemployed, and it doesn’t help if repeated narratives say that millions of cyber jobs exist that you cannot find. (Note: For others not in this situation, imagine the very different experience for a group of airline pilots, who may be unemployed due to COVID-19 and the drop-off in airline travel. Their family, friends and neighbors “understand” their situation and will likely be more sympathetic.)
So if the the shortage of qualified cyber pros is real, and the cyber jobs vacancies do exist, how can we bridge the gap of these different perspectives?
Here is a partial list of reasons that people are not getting hired or finding the right cyber job matches, in my personal experience:
Closing Thoughts & Tips For Jobseekers
I want to restate, that my heart goes out to those of you who are struggling in your cyber career. Perhaps you are in a cyber job, but want out of your organization or role, but feel trapped. Others can’t find any job right now – despite certifications and experience and trying for months or even years.
There are many people and organizations who want to help you. My blogs have many career articles and tips. Also, consider a career move in government cyber service. Here are some reasons why government is a good option.
If you are a student in high school or college, I urge you to get tech experience early with an internship or summer job in technology or cybersecurity. Many companies and governments hire those people first.
For everyone with a good cyber or technology job - all of us need to continue to grow in our knowledge and networking and try to help these colleagues and cyber pros in their careers. You will benefit personally and professionally when you do.
I want to close with these two quotes:
“Friendship ... is born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
And, “He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.” Abraham Lincoln
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