IT hiring: Tackling the cybersecurity skills shortage

Top technology talent is hard to come by these days. Consider these strategies to fill your key roles
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Across the globe, technology usage has surged to deal with the challenges brought by the pandemic. The need for remote access to essential work tools and or enhanced online customer experiences is greater than ever before.

As a result, the demand for professionals with technical capabilities in areas such as cybersecurity and coding has increased massively. As reported in the UK’s Digital Economy Council Jobs and Skills Report 2021, it’s estimated that in the UK, tech-related vacancies make up around 13 percent of all job vacancies, the second-highest by industry.

Here are four ways to tackle the skills shortage and find talent that brings success.

1. Look for soft skills

Technical skills and expertise have always been a given in industries such as technology and cybersecurity. 

But as teams are stretched by the skills shortage, the vital importance of soft skills comes to the fore. When asked about the most important factors to consider when hiring, modern tech leaders are likely to highlight a good culture fit as key to their search. Similarly, many will also stress the importance of feedback from peers on soft skills when evaluating the performance of existing employees. These sorts of qualities and skills will often be more important than the number of years of experience a potential new team member has or the proficiency with which they can write code.

[ Also read IT retention: 5 strategies for becoming a talent magnet. ]

As these skills have become more integral, the traditional belief that a cybersecurity expert is someone who just monitors for threats and writes code to mitigate them has become much less prevalent, and soft skills have taken center stage. To be successful, the modern developer should have a much better understanding of the wider goals of the business and have the skills necessary to form cohesive and productive teams, be an effective communicator, and have the potential to become a leader in the future.

2. Remember that work is not a physical place

In the early stages of the pandemic, most organizations did an excellent job of switching to remote working and keeping businesses going. Now, work is no longer viewed as a physical place, and the sooner leaders catch up with that notion by offering flexibility and altering their thinking around productivity, the better chance they’ll have of building successful teams.

I’d wager that most tech leaders believe that the increase in remote working did not harm team relationships, and some might even say that remote working had improved these relationships considerably. In 2022, with the assistance of technology, it’s perfectly possible to foster strong relationships despite the physical distance between teams.

With employees now more adept at navigating its most prominent challenges, it’s time for managers to capitalize on the increasingly remote-based nature of work and tap into a new pool of talent.

[ Read also: Hybrid and remote work: 3 new leadership rules ]

The challenge is bringing everyone on the journey with you. Every industry will have trouble convincing the old guard that remote working is the future. By measuring and accurately reporting on team productivity, as well as having open discussions about the challenges, most can be brought round to this more modern way of thinking.

Bringing in a new team member shouldn't be a process of finding someone exactly like others in the business.

3. Focus on culture fit

With the distance that comes with more remote work, culture fit has never been more critical. Bringing in a new team member shouldn’t be a process of finding someone exactly like others in the business. In fact, fostering a healthy environment in which different views and ideas can coexist is a vital part of what makes an effective team.

Team cohesion in tech means that everyone is able to effectively voice their ideas through regular creative and critical thinking sessions, and in their day-to-day collaboration with team members. As such, everyone becomes a valued member of teams and contributes to successfully tackling challenges.

A good culture allows teams to build trust, goodwill, and camaraderie. A cohesive team will diagnose and fix technical problems faster, and they’ll be able to create something much more valuable than any one individual could have created on their own.

4. Recruit strategically and broadly

To close the skills gap, the onus is on organizations to expand their recruitment and ensure they properly incentivize prospective employees, especially those who recently graduated, to take up positions in tech. As well, don’t hesitate to look further afield and engage with prospective employees operating from abroad. If a candidate is based in a practical time zone and has the language and communication skills needed to succeed in an international role, then there’s no harm in giving them the chance to fill one of the many tech vacancies out there.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

szymon_piasecki_STX next
Szymon is Head of DevOps at STX Next and has over 20 years of experience in the IT industry. He leads teams at the largest software house in Europe, specializing in designing and creating digital solutions in the Python programming language.