Tips for Recruiting and Retaining Cybersecurity Talent

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Today’s global job economy is an employee’s market — skilled, experienced cybersecurity professionals have more control over who they work for, where they work, and how they manage their time.

According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, data shows there will be 1.8 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2022, which means the competition to seek and retain quality talent will continue to be a struggle for businesses across the globe.

To keep pace with the market demands, you must identify strategic and creative solutions to streamline your recruiting and retention efforts. Let’s talk about the employee value proposition (EVP) and how you can apply this concept to help retain your current employees.

What is an EVP?

An EVP encompasses the central reasons people are proud and motivated to work at your company, such as the inspiring vision or distinctive culture. The EVP includes the unique set of benefits that an employee receives in return for the skills, capabilities, and experience they bring to a company. It’s about more than just compensation. Believe it or not, sometimes people take less money to join companies. Compensation, career progression, mentors, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and flexibility are all examples that contribute to the EVP.

Improving Career Progression Opportunities

Career progression is not just about promotions. It’s about knowledge sharing and marketing, experiences, education, and networking. Here are some valuable tips to consider:

  • Knowledge sharing and marketing: The cybersecurity space is still a small industry. You can build your own brand as well as the company’s brand. Employees can share knowledge both inside and outside your organization, including teaching at universities or colleges.
  • Experiences: These can encompass projects, task forces, teams, on-the-job training, and more. The important part about providing experiences is to let employees know that particular assignments can foster growth and further develop their careers. Otherwise, employees may think you are just asking them to take on extra work. They need to understand the “why,” as Simon Sinek says, the author of multiple best-selling books. Watch him explain the concept of “Start with Why,” here.
  • Education: This can include conferences, courses, classes, certifications, and testing. Your organization may be able to negotiate discounted rates from universities if you engage in partnerships.
  • Networking: This helps employees build their network inside and outside your organization using your contacts. It is about building long-term relationships as well as a good reputation. It involves meeting and getting to know people who can help you and who you can potentially assist in return.

Best Practices for Retaining Employees

Internal mobility is also part of career development and progression. Gen Z has experienced economic uncertainty and therefore, values job security and internal mobility. To make career progression visible, advertise and market the success of employees who have grown their careers at your company. In a recent Gartner survey, enhancing employee development opportunities was one of the top ways to address turnover.

Mentors are another great way to retain employees. Employees can be mentors and mentees.  You can help employees find mentors within and outside their functional hierarchy or even outside of the company. At LogRhythm, we include mentors with our intern program which served as a pilot for an internal mentor program. Next year we are expanding the program to a set of regular employees.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a companywide initiative that supports the community. Younger generations are especially interested in understanding how your company is making the world a better place. They want to know how you are giving back. LogRhythm has found much success with our Logiving program, where employees can come together to provide financial assistance, support to community events, and volunteer opportunities to those in need. 

Flexible schedules are driving more long-term employees. In a recent , offering work flexibility options was one of the top ways to address turnover. Flexibility is in high demand for people looking for new positions. If you offer flexible schedules or remote work, promote it effectively through social media.

Connecting and Communicating with Your Workforce

As we continue to think about retaining employees, let’s talk about connection culture and consistent communication. Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy, and Understanding at Work, is a book written by Michael Lee Stallard. Below I will share concepts from his book and from LogRhythm’s Employee Engagement Model to provide best practices for retaining employees.

Meaning Employees need to connect their work to a higher purpose. Employees want a sense of belonging to something beyond themselves. You can recruit and retain Gen Z with meaningful work as they often place a special focus on their work having meaning.
Autonomy Employees don’t want to be micromanaged. They want the power to shape their work environment in ways that allow them to perform at their best.  Autonomy relates to the ability of individuals to direct their own work to make mistakes and to learn. It is linked to freedom.
Recognition Employees need regular praise and specific acknowledgment of good work. In other words, employees want to know what specifically about their work is being recognized. Cybersecurity can sometimes be easily overlooked until something goes wrong. If the security team is doing their job, others at the company may not even know who they are.
Personal growth Help employees find work that matches their strengths and interests so employees can find a pace and level of challenge that leads to a state of flow. Stretch and challenge employees in ways that result in personal and professional growth.
Respect Employees need to be treated well and to treat others as they’d like to be treated.
Belonging Employees want to feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work.  They need to be included, have a voice, and work with people who care for one another.
Progress Employees need to experience steady results and growth. They want to see positive, effective, and worthwhile outcomes and results from their work.

These are the aspects of culture that will most likely retain employees.

What Employees Need from Leaders

To aid in consistent communication, let’s review the three questions employees want to know and how to provide those answers. The people at manager-tools tell us that employees always want to know the answers to three questions:

  • What are my priorities?
  • How am I doing?
  • Where am I going?

We teach our managers to answer these questions in our Logger LEAD program using 1:1s, feedback, coaching, and by partnering with employees for career conversations. In a recent Gartner survey, upskilling managers in career and retention conversations was one of the top ways to address turnover.

It’s important to understand the difference between mentors and coaches and how they contribute to an employee’s growth trajectory. In short, mentors are the experts and know the answers to educate others. Meanwhile, coaches aren’t necessarily the experts, but they ask questions which allow employees to find the answer for themselves.

I hope these pointers on the EVP, Connection Culture, and consistent communication give you some ideas for retaining top cybersecurity talent. Interested in learning more? Watch my 2021 RhythmWorld Security Conference presentation for an in-depth guide on how to improve your recruiting and retention efforts. If you have additional thoughts or ideas, please share them in the comments below!