Talent Shortage? Recruit for Diversity

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The recruitment war continues in the cyber security market - demand significantly outweighs supply of experienced talent, and organisations don’t want to wait, nor do they always have the budgets to compete for candidates.

Now more than ever, employers and recruiters are having to think outside the box when it comes to building capability. And the industry is beginning to take heed of the advice to look beyond the standard definition of who makes a good candidate for a cyber security role.

Why is Diversity Important for Cyber Security

Organisations globally are feeling the threat of potential cyber attacks, if they haven’t been impacted already. It goes without saying that the current talent gap when it comes to protecting company (and customer) data is a serious concern. 

To date, the cyber industry is largely homogenised both in terms of candidate demographics and their education and career pathways. In regards to the latter,  it made sense that such roles would ask for specific technical competency and qualifications. However, that has become a somewhat narrow means to entry - and one which has exacerbated the shortage we face today. 

Alternatively, making the strategic decision to build more diversity in cyber security teams, companies are able to move much faster to develop their capability and protect themselves. Further it can also prevent the risk of burnout from the skilled, experienced cyber professionals already in the industry.

How to Build Diversity

Diversity comes in many shapes and forms. When building a diverse cyber team, employers might want to consider some or all of the following: 

  1. Start offering cyber careers early, and look to those currently underrepresented. An example of this could be leveraging the work that is already in place to encourage more women into tech / STEM type careers. Additionally looking at recent graduates and (where feasible) putting in place internships, or mentoring programs to help build skills, guide professional development and hopefully also increase staff retention.
  2. Accept alternative paths to entry when recruiting. We’ve discussed the benefits of bringing diverse experience from different backgrounds in a number of our previous articles and salary guide. Looking at the potential of the individual rather than a strict set of technical competencies and years of experience opens the doors to a much wider talent pool. New Government funded programs such as CYNAPSE will help employers do just that by identifying suitable candidates for cyber roles and creating pathways for them to transition into this space.

Similarly, upskilling current employees who show an interest in an internal move to cyber comes with further advantages to an organisation. This includes minimising the learning curve of the business specifics and increasing staff loyalty and retention.

  1. Make the recruitment process accessible. Tying the two above mentioned points, employers and recruiters need to revise the way they recruit for cyber roles. This could include:


    • Changing job posts / descriptions to remove the jargon that would only be understood by those with knowledge of cyber security or a technical discipline (and therefore dissuade those from different experience/backgrounds from applying)
    • Thinking remote and flexible - unless on-site work is absolutely critical, organisations are much more likely to get a diverse response by throwing a wider geographical net and offering remote working. Similarly, where possible, offering flexibility with roles will appeal to a greater audience and encourage more people to apply
    • Utilising programs such as CYNAPSE that can anonymise the candidate assessment process and remove any bias in determining aptitude for a cyber role.

Diversity and inclusion in teams is a focus for organisations across all industries. For those in, or looking to build capability in, cyber security it is an especially important factor for consideration in order to alleviate the current candidate shortage. A mindset that values willingness to learn, different perspectives and problem solving skills, and interest in cyber regardless of background and experience is more likely to deliver a cyber team that is set up for success.

If you’d like any more information about recruiting or retaining top cyber security talent, or if you’re looking for your next cyber security role, reach out to the Decipher Bureau team. With offices across Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra - and an experienced team around the world, we’d love to help you out.

Speaking of recruiting top talent, Decipher Bureau is currently looking for consultants! If you're interested in having a chat about joining the team, and to find out why we’re a great place to work, please get in touch. 

Find out more about current employment and hiring trends within the Australian cyber security industry - Download the 2022 Salary Guide here