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Overcoming Recruitment Barriers in Cyber Security




This article originally featured in Cyber News Global


 

Nicola Huskie

Chief Commercial Officer at i-confidential




 



It’s well known that organisations across the globe are suffering from a workforce cyber skills shortage, which is leaving security teams understaffed, and potentially exposing them to attack. This month, Cyber News Global was delighted to interview cyber recruitment guru, Nicola Huskie, and hear her invaluable advice to help job seekers and organisations overcome recruitment barriers in cyber security.


Can you please provide some details on your background and experience?


I’m the chief commercial officer and head of talent acquisition for i-confidential. I’ve been working in HR and recruitment for around 18 years, but I recently moved into a commercial role. My background is in IT, oil, and gas. I’m used to working with international companies and I’ve helped many organisations develop their in-house recruitment capabilities. I’ve been with i-confidential for nine years, working with new and existing clients, driving their recruitment strategies, while also supporting them with their cyber security needs. i-confidential is a cyber security and risk consultancy. Whether our clients have a security issue, or an outcome that they want to get to, or they are looking to enhance their own internal teams, we offer services to address their needs.


What challenges do organisations face with recruitment today?


The cyber industry is struggling with a lack of skilled personnel, but with budget restrictions in place across most organisations, this is having an impact on recruitment. Organisations no longer have the luxury of filling all the empty roles in their security teams. Instead, the focus is on hiring individual candidates that meet multiple requirements. But this is placing pressure on both organisations and job seekers. For organisations, they need to attract the best talent, while for job seekers, there is more competition than ever before.

The biggest challenge for organisations is a lack of inclusivity in their recruitment strategies. The most secure organisations are diverse because different cultural or gender groups introduce important traits into roles. But organisations need to know how to attract a variety of groups in the first place. This means tailoring job adverts so they appeal to a wider demographic. Otherwise, some groups could be completely discouraged from applying for a role, and it’s the organisations that can suffer the consequences of this.


What is your key advice for job seekers?


The biggest challenge job seekers face today is not knowing how recruiters recruit. In the age of AI, recruiters are using algorithms to identify candidates, but this means many applications are never even seen by a human. The key goal for job seekers is to get past this first stage in the recruitment process. The CV is used less today, but job seekers still need to make sure it includes all the keywords applicable to a certain role. Making sure your CV is tailored to the role you’re applying for is essential.


Being proactive and having a good LinkedIn presence is also very important. All organisations use LinkedIn for recruitment purposes today, so making sure your profile is visible is vital. In some cases, a LinkedIn profile is enough to land a person a job. All you need to do is change your status to say that you’re open to work, and suddenly, your whole network can help secure your next position. Recruiters often use LinkedIn to identify candidates that are ‘open to work’, so this is a must when looking for something new. Recruiters want to use the fastest methods to fill a role. Obviously, they want to find the right candidate, but they’ll use tools to help them get there quicker. Therefore, the more you can do to make yourself available and prominent on LinkedIn, the greater chance of landing a new role.


How does a consultancy like i-confidential help?


i-confidential adopts a people-first strategy, where we ensure a candidate matches the values and culture of the organisation we are hiring for. We also have a lot of industry knowledge, and our talent acquisition team are all accredited in cyber security. This means we understand the subject and can have credible conversations with candidates and hiring managers. It allows us to screen candidates to a level that’s useful, including an assessment of their behavioural and interpersonal skills. We also try to encourage upskilling, and we work with many universities, colleges, and schools to help educate the next generation on cyber.


Can you provide an example of a candidate you have recently placed?


I was introduced to a lady via LinkedIn who had an excellent background in IT, but no cyber experience. She couldn’t get into the industry, and it was interesting listening to her journey and the obstacles she had faced. She was joining groups, networking, and doing everything right, but she was still struggling to land a job. In the end, I worked with her to update her CV and introduced her to companies in the cyber space, and then she landed a fantastic role.


This is where i-confidential really adds value. Our clients trust us and we know the industry. We only put quality people forward for roles. We could see her skills and behavioural qualities would work well in cyber security and never hesitated in putting her forward. She now has a very successful career in cyber security, and the clients we work with are consistently impressed with her.


Any final pieces of advice for job seekers?


Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Reach out to people who you don’t know and ask them for their help because nine times out of ten they’re more than happy to do it. Be mindful of the knowledge that you’re sitting on and how you can use that to help other people. Do what you can to educate people on cyber security. Awareness is critical and we must work continuously to arm the new generation of cyber talent because soon they will be working hard to keep our data secure.

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