Those of us who read a lot of tech and business publications have heard for years about the cybersecurity skills gap. Studies often claim that millions of jobs are going unfilled because there aren’t enough qualified candidates available for hire.
I don’t buy it.
The basic laws of supply and demand mean there will always be people in the workforce willing to move into well-paid security jobs. The problem is not that these folks don’t exist. It’s that CIOs or CISOs typically look right past them if their resumes don’t have a very specific list of qualifications.
In many cases, hiring managers expect applicants to be fully trained on all the technologies their organization currently uses. That not only makes it harder to find qualified candidates, but it also reduces the diversity of experience within security teams — which, ultimately, may weaken the company’s security capabilities and its talent pool.
At Netskope, we take a different approach to staffing for security roles. We know we can teach the cybersecurity skills needed to do the job, so instead, there are two traits we consider more important than specific technical expertise: One is a hunger to learn more about security, which suggests the individual will take the initiative to continuously improve their skills. The other is possession of a skill set that no one else on our security team has.
Overemphasis on technical skills creates an artificial talent shortage
To understand why I believe our approach has helped us build a stronger security team, think about the long-term benefits of hiring someone with a specific security skill set: How valuable will that exact knowledge be in several years? Probably not very.
The problem is not that these folks don’t exist. It’s that CIOs or CISOs typically look right past them if their resumes don’t have a very specific list of qualifications.
Even the most basic security technologies are incredibly dynamic. In most companies, the IT infrastructure is currently in the midst of a massive transition from on-premises to cloud-based systems. Security teams are having to learn new technologies. More than that, they are having to adopt an entirely new mindset, shifting from a focus on protecting specific pieces of hardware to a focus on protecting individuals and applications as their workloads increasingly move outside the corporate network.