Nearly every industry is struggling through a historic labor shortage, especially cybersecurity. IT departments are facing unprecedented challenges when hiring, training and retaining cybersecurity talent at a time when cyberattacks continue to grow both in intensity and frequency. 

In the U.S. alone, according to a survey by (ISC)², an international nonprofit offering cybersecurity training and certification programs, more than 350,000 jobs were unfilled in 2020. Globally, that number stood at more than 3 million positions. 

The deficit of these professionals not only impacts the security of assets and information but is also taking a toll on your cybersecurity teams. 

According to the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), 57% of cybersecurity professionals say the shortage of cybersecurity skills has impacted their organization. This means existing teams must pick up more work, leading to high staff burnout and a backlog of unfilled job requisitions. Guiding your team through this environment is complex. 

Competing for valuable talent requires a strategic focus on building and maintaining a workplace culture that attracts and retains cybersecurity professionals. 

Here are four steps to consider when building or improving your existing culture and recruiting practices.  

Believe in yourself 

Cybersecurity teams must believe in their purpose, strengths, and in the people they support. This means putting a face to the customers and internal clients they’re protecting from cybercrime. Help them see how their efforts are making a difference. The answers will drive and power each employee’s passion for improving what they do, staying diligent even through difficult times, and helping you attract and retain talent. Believe in what makes your team unique, and that pride and confidence will attract others. 

Define your culture

While candidates might consider your company for your products, location, or benefits, many will also evaluate your culture for a potential fit.  More so, it’s the culture that will ultimately make employees want to stay long after they’re hired. 

Does your culture make your employees feel valued? Does it help them grow in their careers? Does it help them feel like they’re a part of something important? It’s essential to build a work environment that affirms, grows, encourages your team, and entices them to stay. 

It does not matter if we are talking about on-site or remote work; culture is critical to both. Whether your team is remote or in the office, you have to make employees feel engaged and understand how their contributions add to the overall success of your department and company as a whole. A day filled with remote meetings makes building relationships difficult. How will you combat that? What tools or techniques could you use to build engagement and culture in a remote workforce?

Get involved with recruiting

Large corporations and small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are both struggling to hire workers during labor shortages. But each is addressing the challenge differently. 

Corporations have the benefit of dedicated HR and recruiting teams. However, they have become too dependent on them to do the work alone. This approach worked back when there was an abundance of candidates. But today’s environment requires a more personal, relationship-based approach to attract talent. Your existing teams might have to get online, identify people, and reach out and build relationships. And you might have to leverage your contacts for leads. In this competitive market, HR can’t do it alone. 

SMBs, on the other hand, don’t often have access to dedicated on-staff recruiters. They’re either leveraging outside recruiting firms or seeking out candidates while managing an already short staff. 

This doesn’t change what SMBs should be doing, but they must be more strategic about it. Their limited time to build relationships means that they need to make sure they focus their time in a way that produces results. 

If you’re an SMB, you must do your own research. Find groups with people who have your desired skills. Look for others who know these people and build relationships to get more warm introductions and learn how your recruits think. Between you and your team, figure out if your business is a good home for recruits. Make the changes you need to be attractive, and then start creating a conversation around your organization.

Always be hiring! 

Don’t wait until you need someone with a specific skillset; start building relationships now. Find groups to join and start asking around where you can find specific types of talent. 

As you look at the challenges of building belief, establishing an attractive culture, and putting a plan in place to recruit, remember that it will not happen immediately. You must start today. If you wait until you cannot live without the position, you are already too far behind. 

Determine your one, three and five-year plans, and then build these concepts around them. Figure out how you can start identifying your needs earlier, so you can understand candidates and recruit faster. 

And as you do all of this, never forget to invest in the people you have. They have already chosen to be a part of who you are, so work with them to build tomorrow.