The Covid Vacuum - What happened to mid-level cyber

The Covid Vacuum - What happened to mid-level cyber  Image 1

If we cast our minds back to 2020 it’s plain to see we’ve come a long way. The pandemic was responsible for many changes in the workplace as we know. Between hiring freezes and working from home, ‘digital beers’ and lockdowns it’s natural to want to put that time in our lives to bed and move forward. 

For more recent inductees into the cyber security industry, the covid hangover is still very real. At the end of their cyber security study and training, the 2019-2021 industry entrants were met with the reality of an industry that simply couldn’t hire them. Of course there were exceptions, but overwhelmingly these candidates had to take other roles in similar fields. It’s this that has created what we refer to as the covid vacuum for mid-level talent. 

So what is the ‘Covid Vacuum’?

In an effort to keep costs down, many companies are looking to bolster their cyber security departments with elusive ‘goldilocks’ candidates - ones who aren’t quite graduates and have experience under their belt - but are also not ‘too’ seasoned and commanding hefty salaries. The issue is that these candidates really don’t exist and it’s created an ‘expectation gap’. The 2020 intake couldn’t get hired 4 years ago, so as recruiters we’re starting to see this covid talent vacuum take hold.

Many employers are reluctant to hire workers that might be currently transitioning from eg. IT roles, seeing this group of talent “as risky prospects, lacking experience and job-readiness.” (AustCyber) But it’s these perceived gaps or rather, hiring for a number of years experience rather than expertise that means companies may be missing out on talented individuals. 

How do we counter the ‘Covid Vacuum’?

Overall it can be boiled down to employers broadening their perspective for hiring, which can present a couple of options for the short term.  For organisations seeking an experienced cyber security professional who might have the budget to support someone with 5-10 years experience - then a more tenured option might be a go for now.

However for other organisations where increasing budgets aren’t really an option, it’s worth looking at transferable skills and upskilling over the ‘checkbox’ of years experience. We’ve seen numerous candidates excel when given the opportunity in a workplace to learn and grow, so hiring entry level or junior staff can still be a good option. Another idea might be to invest the extra funds that were going to be spent on a more experienced worker -  in upskilling these staff which provides a great incentive for new staff and career progression as well. 

By curbing the ‘expectations gap’ and being more open-minded with the recruitment process, we can ensure that the cyber industry continues to thrive beyond the hangover of the pandemic and that candidates get the chance to show and grow their skills. 

If you’d like any information about how to hire cyber security talent of all levels for your organisation, get in touch with 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.

Find out more about current employment and hiring trends within the Australian cyber security industry - Download the 2023/24 Salary Guide here