Immersive Magazine
Finding hidden talent in your organisation

29th August 2018 • 10 minute read


29th August 2018 • 10 minute read

In professional team sports, coaches rarely experiment with every player at their disposal – even when they face an on-field dilemma. Who, after all, wants to invite criticism by putting square pegs in round holes? In football  – a results business – coaches are judged from one game to the next, and thus demand quick fixes when problems arise. The outcome? Eye-watering sums spent acquiring new players, often at the expense of existing, but ultimately unnurtured, talent.

Fortunately, your cyber workforce isn’t a professional sports team. But outstanding athletic ability or otherwise, that workforce does require highly skilled staff – and finding them isn’t easy. In fact, it’s notoriously difficult. The cyber skills gap is undeniable – a 0% unemployment rate is expected to continue until at least 2021 – yet most businesses still navigate this crevasse by endlessly hiring; a method that’s expensive, lengthy and ultimately unsustainable.

So, what can be done?

Finding cyber talent within

An effective (and potentially lucrative) solution is to unearth hidden talent from within your business. This may seem unrealistic – cyber ninjas don’t just hide in IT, right? – but is in fact perfectly feasible. We’re not suggesting a fully-fledged pen tester is lurking in your ranks unbeknownst to you (that would be absurd); rather, that your workforce already boasts employees with an aptitude for cyber.

There are several reasons you should look to tap into this potential. Firstly, as you’re no doubt aware, hiring externally is an expensive game, and one that’s all too easy to get wrong. There is surely nothing more disappointing than hiring someone who is perfect on paper, only to discover their real-world skills don’t quite match up. (Okay, Batman v Superman wasn’t great, but at least tickets didn’t hit you for thousands.)

More importantly, when promoting from within you already know what makes an employee tick, because – hey presto – you’ve worked with them. This will help in your quest to retain that worker, which is essential when considering the high turnover in cyber security roles (the result of 65% of cyber professionals struggling to define their career path and over half feeling sufficient training is unavailable).

So, you know that hiring from within is the smart choice, but have one burning question…

How do I find this hidden talent?

The first step to unveiling your company’s hidden cyber talent goes against everything you know about recruitment: you need to ditch the CV.

When scanning your business for potential cyber talent, remember: you are not seeking experience and pre-existing hard skills, but personalities. To identify those with a propensity for cyber, look out for certain tell-tale traits like perseverance, curiosity, creativity and a competitive nature. It’s known that the best cyber workers like to learn, not be taught – perhaps why 63% of Immersive Labs users say ‘willingness to learn’ is the key characteristic of a cyber employee.

As well as knowing what to look for, you need to know where to find it. While the obvious solution is to raid the IT department, you should also consider screening those in analytical and strategic departments like finance and marketing. You can learn more about your employees’ suitability by inspecting their backgrounds; did they study maths at university, for instance, or serve in the military? A 2017 study found that 1 in 5 cyber security professionals joined from a different sector  – proof that those with non-technical backgrounds can, and do, successfully transition into cyber.

Those in the later stages of their careers shouldn’t be overlooked either. While young adults are no doubt more pliable, those with vast experience – particularly IT workers – may embrace a new challenge. You’ll be surprised by how many old dogs are willing to learn new tricks.

What next?

Once you’ve pinpointed the employees who may have what it takes, you need to put them through their paces, which means finding a way to test their learning ability, dedication and practical suitability. It’s crucial, however, that you don’t start thinking your cyber protégé will become a Red Team Analyst overnight; you’ll first need to invest in that potential, supply the tools required to succeed, and allow sufficient time for development.

Through the Immersive Labs platform, you can monitor your employees’ progress as they continually learn new skills, and even engineer their learning to suit your business’ needs with personalised skill paths. Why not schedule a demo and take the first step towards building your bespoke cyber workforce?

The Results

It might not be the conventional route, but utilising workers from alternative professions and backgrounds can revolutionise your cyber recruitment and have a lasting impact on your talent pipeline. Better still, it will result in a diverse workforce that benefits from varied, atypical viewpoints, allowing problems to be tackled in new and innovative ways.

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