New research indicates that things are not improving for filling the demand for cybersecurity skills. The ramifications are widespread. 

The rise in popularity of such jobs shouldn’t come as any great surprise given the current climate. The frequency and severity of data breaches is increasing, with attacks on well-known businesses making the news on a regular basis. And with the implementation of ever-tighter privacy laws such as GDPR, businesses have never been more focused on protecting their networks and the precious information that flows across them.

I’ve been writing about the cybersecurity skills shortage for seven years and have become the “Chicken Little” of this topic. Now, we’ve all read about the number of cybersecurity job openings out there, but what is the impact of the skills shortage on cybersecurity professionals who are gainfully employed?

This is one of the focus areas of the third annual ESG/ISSA research report titled, The Life and Times of Cybersecurity Professionals(Note: I am an ESG employee.) To evaluate this question, 267 cybersecurity professionals and ISSA members were asked whether the cybersecurity skills shortage has had an impact on the organization they work at. Nearly three-fourths (74%) of respondents say the cybersecurity skills shortage has impacted their organizations “significantly” or “somewhat.” 

This percentage has crept up annually. Last year, 70% of respondents said the cybersecurity skills shortage had impacted their organization, while two years ago, it was 69%.

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A job in cybersecurity is the hot ticket for anyone who wants to work in tech right now. Data compiled by recruitment website Indeed recently showed a 15% increase in the number of jobs being advertized for sufficiently skilled candidates in the 12 months between 2017 and 2018.  

The rise in popularity of such jobs shouldn’t come as any great surprise given the current climate. The frequency and severity of data breaches is increasing, with attacks on well-known businesses making the news on a regular basis. And with the implementation of ever-tighter privacy laws such as GDPR, businesses have never been more focused on protecting their networks and the precious information that flows across them.

But what do these jobs actually entail? Rather than any detail about the skills currently needed, all we see are vague, generalized job titles – “IT Security Specialist, IT Security Engineer, Security Consultant”. It would be hard to be less specific. Yet, it’s the specialized expertise, knowledge and experience that lies behind these titles that matters most to an organization’s security. Unfortunately, the HR teams, heads of business and board members that make the decisions around who to hire often won’t understand the nuances of what being on the front line against cyber threats really involves.

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Often when we think of launching an IT career it’s about how to get there. What qualifications you need to get started. How long your learning will take.

But what happens when you actually enter the industry with your first IT job? You might now be the proud person who’s landed a job as a web developer, software developer or security technologist…but what happens now? How do you progress in the IT industry you’ve already worked so hard to be part of?

Here are our top tips for succeeding in the IT industry!

Be Passionate - 

There’s a reason you decided to kick start your career in IT. You may have been stuck in a dead-end job that gave you very little back. You might have been unemployed just holding out for that perfect opportunity. You might have wanted a better future, full of prospects and opportunity. Whatever your reason, it’s likely that drove you to be better. To do better for yourself.

That level of passion is what keeps many people climbing in the IT industry. If you remember where you came from and how hard you fought to get where you are now – it’s that grit and passion that will keep you striving for more and succeeding in this industry.

Showing that passion within your career is crucial to your continued success – seizing each day, continually learning and striving to be the best in your job will seriously impress your employer and secure your future.

Be Innovative and Dynamic - 

One of the biggest appeals for working in the IT industry was probably how ever-changing the space is. Technology continues to evolve, develop and diversify, and that’s what makes it such a great career choice.

You’ll start to stand out against your peers if you’re innovating with the industry, particularly if they’re not. To be successful, you need to be dynamic in your approach to working. Been powering through an app development but another company has just launched something similar? Tough. You either need to make sure you’re better, or move on. Rolling with it is part of what creates your resilience, and ultimately, your success.

Paying close attention to how your chosen industry is changing will help inspire you to either ride the wave or get ahead of the curve. Highlighting your innovation and your dynamic approach to your career will help you progress and make your employer take note of you!

Be Resilient -

For most of us, it’s not easy when our ideas are rejected, or we don’t get the job or promotion we’ve worked hard for. Sure, there are some people in life who seem to have it easy – they get praise, pay rises, promotions and career moves left, right and centre! But if you deal with every rejection, however minor, badly, your career will struggle to progress.

Being resilient is crucial to moving forward in the IT industry. It’s important to take every knock as an opportunity to refine yourself, improve your skills and try again. It might feel difficult at the time, but it will be worth it in the long run!

Be Persistent -

Persistence is key to your success – if you don’t keep trying, you’ll fail in the long run. That could translate to persisting with applying to that company you really want to work for, persisting in furthering your education or persisting in getting that project off your desk on time!

A successful career doesn’t just happen: you have to work hard to get there and persistence is part of the battle. So, get out there!

Be Connected -

Having a strong network of industry connections helps your career flourish. It’s just as much about what you know, as who you know. If you’re completely new to the industry, you may be light on contacts. The longer you work in the industry, build a reputation and make a good impression, the more people you’ll be able to call on later down the line.

Staying connected with key people in your workplace (even if you leave the business) is important. No-one likes it much when they’re contacted out of the blue from someone they haven’t spoken to in years asking for a favour. Staying in touch and leaving things on the right foot will help preserve a working relationship and means you can call on them if you need their help.

Keep the relationship going in person or make sure you reach out to them on professional sites like LinkedIn – that way you can stay in touch without seeming too keen!

Interested in learning more about pushing forward with your career in IT? Want to understand the skills you need to get your career off the ground? Take a look at our blog exploring the soft skills you’ll need for you career in IT:

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