4 strategies for cybersecurity hiring

How to meet the rising demand for talent

by AT&T Business Editorial Team

Here’s an unsettling statistic: In 2016, nine out of 10 companies reported being hacked at least once. And you’re likely already aware of the many high-profile company hacks in recent years, each of which serves as a sober reminder of the reality of cybercrime in the digital age.

Cybercriminals who operate in the digital world of ones and zeroes are robbing ones and zeroes from enterprises’ market capitalizations. Cybercrime costs more than $450 billion dollars worldwide each year.

In order to subvert these subversive attacks, businesses are doing everything they can to bolster their cyberdefenses. In fact, the number of open cybersecurity positions in the US alone is enough to fill about 22.5 empty football stadiums, according to AT&T Executive Recruiter Paul Eriksen. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that cybersecurity jobs will increase 18% through 2024—more than twice the average for all occupations.

By 2019, the number of cybersecurity jobs we’ll need to fill is going to reach up to 1.5 million globally, with 6 million total cybersecurity jobs.

1. Enlist women

There are 17,000 women in STEM jobs who are responsible for over 5,000 patents at AT&T, according to Eriksen. However, across corporations in the U.S., the percentage of women who occupy these jobs is disappointingly low. And research carried out by the National Center for Women and Information Technology revealed that in 2015 just one quarter of computing jobs were held by women including only 10 percent of cybersecurity jobs.

It’s a sad truth that perception drives reality when it comes to women in cybersecurity, and technology jobs at large. “You can’t be what you can’t see” is a common refrain. STEM is dominated by men, which discourages women from considering a career in STEM during their formative years.

One solution is for businesses to put their engineers, developers and cybersecurity experts into the spotlight. When women who hold STEM jobs at every level are featured as speakers at conferences and within internal promotions they pave the way for young women who view STEM jobs as male-only. Workplaces can retain women in cybersecurity roles by offering flexible working hours and mentorship programs.

2. Recruit from within

“We are investing heavily in skills pivot," says Rita Marty, vice president of security technology at AT&T. "We’re not just relying on new talent coming to AT&T, we’re taking existing talent and shifting them into cybersecurity.”

Keep employees current on ever-changing skill sets your business needs through classes, certifications and conferences. Cybersecurity, like many other technology jobs, is a highly dynamic field, and requires ongoing education and exploration.

Facilitate easy conduits for employees from adjacent areas of your business who express interest in cybersecurity career paths. Artificial Intelligence (AI) provides employees with more intelligence and contextual recommendations at a speed and scale previously unimagined, so upskilling your workforce into advanced technology fields like cybersecurity is more achievable than it was even five years ago.

3. Hire difference makers

Rather than hoping for a senior-level IT expert with an impeccable resume to wander into your HR office, plan a homegrown strategy by hiring students, interns and recent college graduates with interest and fundamentals, but less experience.

Research has shown that millennials and their younger siblings have a strong desire to make a positive impact in whatever they do. Becoming a cybersecurity expert allows them to support their family by thwarting criminals and enhancing the public good.

4. Scout the hackathons

In the digital era, conducting a “hackathon” is table stakes for any technology company, including AT&T.

Every year the British government facilitates cybersecurity challenges at the annual UK Cyber Security Challenge UK, sponsored by companies like Airbus. These challenges are based on real-world cyberattacks that have dominated the news cycle and inflicted pain on targeted businesses. Young, up and coming cybersecurity experts are given computers, a gamified challenge, and asked, “What would you do?”

Top performers are invited to a three-day masterclass and team-based competition. sponsor hacking and gaming competitions that serve as fertile recruiting grounds for identifying qualified cybersecurity job candidates. 70 percent of finalists are hired into cybersecurity jobs within 12 months. A number which, given the scarcity of cybersecurity talent, is likely to increase.

Visit our cybersecurity solutions page to learn how to help protect your business from cyber criminals, data breaches, natural disasters and more.