Guide to hiring Cybersecurity Professionals

In line with global trends, the occurrence of malicious cyber activities has been on the rise especially in local industries such as e-commerce, banking, and finance as well as information communication and technology. In Singapore, cybercrime saw a 50% increase from 2018 to 2019. Such cyber threats include website defacements, computer viruses, and data breaches. Companies who fall victim to cyberattacks can suffer great losses in terms of loss of confidential data, paralyze systems, and computer networks. In some serious cases, it can even potentially threaten human lives.

With businesses forging ahead and aggressively with their digital business initiatives, these cyber threats are growing more serious. In order to safeguard businesses from malicious cyber acts, Cybersecurity Professionals play a crucial role in strengthening the cyber resilience of companies.

What is Cybersecurity Professional?

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Cybersecurity Engineers, also commonly known as Information security engineers, are broadly responsible for all aspects of a company’s electronic security. Common roles under this field mainly consist of Application Security Engineer, Security Engineer, Network Security Engineer, and Information Security Analyst.

Key skills for Cybersecurity Experts include:

  •  Ability to test, detect and respond to unauthorised intrusion on systems and security risks
  • Planning, implementing, managing, monitoring, and upgrading security measures for the protection of organisations technological infrastructures
  • Troubleshooting security and network issues
  • Be familiar with attack tools /techniques
  • Tracking complicated activities and handle various sources of evidence

Current hiring situation in the Cybersecurity landscape

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In Singapore, business’s digitalisation has sped up which leads to the demand for cybersecurity professionals to shoot up sharply, resulting in the ever-leaner cybersecurity workforce. In a recent study conducted by (ISC)2, the world has recorded a global gap of nearly 3 million cybersecurity positions and this number is expected to see an increase in future years. Similarly, in Singapore, there are shortages in qualified and skilled cybersecurity professionals to fill the growing need.

How to increase your chance of hiring Cybersecurity Professionals?

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1. Practice flexibility in job requirements

One common pitfall amongst recruiters is the setting of unrealistically high demands when drafting job requirements. Listing out specific requirements such as a particular certification or a certain number of years of experience limits the number of applicants and may also eliminate suitable talents before they have the chance to interview for the role.

While possessing certification in related fields may be more qualified than those without, it may not be necessary for certain positions in cybersecurity, particularly junior positions. The landscape of cybersecurity is constantly in flux and relatively young. Therefore, setting requirements such as more than 5 years of experience in a particular technology may not always be feasible. Exercise flexibility with your recruitment requirements and widen the search.

2. Work with education institutes

The need for dedicated and qualified cybersecurity professionals in Singapore has been recognised by members of the government. To curb the nationwide shortage, various Singapore education institutes have introduced cybersecurity courses. For instance, the National University of Singapore offers a Bachelor of Technology in Cybersecurity or Software Engineering, well as Stackable Graduate Certificate Programme in Artificial Intelligence. Nanyang Technological University also offers a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Engineering or Computer Science. Many other universities such as SUSS, SMU, and SIT also offer similar courses.

By partnering with these education institutes, companies can widen their cybersecurity talent pool and hire graduates from specialist cybersecurity courses. However, there is more to being a successful cybersecurity professional than knowing the theory, industry experience is also a major factor in the cybersecurity capabilities of the individual. Thus, this strategy is mainly applicable to companies that have existing experienced cybersecurity professionals to guide the newcomers or has the runway to train and develop them.

3. Networking at Training courses

One innovative strategy practiced by many organisations is the sending of existing cybersecurity staff to training courses, not just solely for training purposes but also for networking purposes. As the cybersecurity field is dynamic and ever-changing, most professionals will sign themselves up for training courses to ensure their skills are up to date and relevant. Such courses serve as good opportunities for talent-seekers to meet and connect with highly qualified cybersecurity professionals. For instance, organisations such as NTUC Learning Hub, Bridging Minds and COMAT offer upgrading courses and since their establishment, they have trained thousands of individuals.

Kill two birds with one stone when you send existing employees to these courses, as they can upgrade their skills set and concurrently connect with suitable candidates. Upon building rapport, they are also able to share more about the job opportunities and refer keen cybersecurity candidates for interviews.

4. Attend public events

Get out in the community and attend public events such as hackathons and conferences in the cybersecurity space. These events are able to attract qualified cybersecurity professionals who are keen to challenge or upgrade themselves. Recruiters can tap on such planned events to connect with keen job seekers and even passive candidates. In addition, it offers hiring managers the opportunities to meet potential hires in person and informally discuss job openings.

The participation of such events might not necessarily translate into successful hires, but it also serves as a good branding strategy and helps to strengthen companies’ presence in the cybersecurity landscape.

5. Offer competitive salaries and benefits

In Singapore, junior cybersecurity engineers with 1-4 years of experience typically earn an average of $49,000 per annum. Professionals in their mid-careers with 5-9 years of experience receive an average of $100,000 per annum.

Salary packages offered by companies do not have to be comparable to tech giants such as Google or Facebook. However, it should fall within the reasonable range. Hiring managers are recommended to do the necessary market research on the salary and welfare before drafting the employment offer. This would help to ensure that companies are paying reasonably and able to attract the right cybersecurity talents.

It is understandable that not every company has the bandwidth to offer top salaries. A common practice amongst companies who are slightly tight on the budget is the offering of attractive benefits such as flexible working policies, retirement contributions, and generous leave. 

Summary

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As companies invest heavily in their digitalisation plans, the need for cybersecurity professionals is on an upwards trend. Organisations depend on these individuals to prevent themselves from becoming victims of cyberattacks which may not only cause financial damages but also harm their reputation.

With the shortage in cybersecurity talent pool and the complexities of the skills involved, the hiring of cybersecurity professionals is both competitive and complicated. In this article, we provide tips on how organisations can widen their search, source for candidates from alternative avenues, and attract more talents.

Alternative solution

Companies with the absence of recruiters who are well-versed in technical skills might face many uncertainties when sourcing and selecting suitable cybersecurity candidates. In addition, businesses might also experience a lack of manpower and resources to engage in the activities recommended above.

If you are facing these challenges, consider eliciting the help of experts from Specialised IT Employment Agency for cost- and time-effective solutions. These recruiters are equipped with the right skills and connections to reach out to suitable and qualified cybersecurity candidates and able to hire for your organisations with fast turnaround time.

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