Security Awareness Blog

The War for Cyber Talent - #SecAwareSummit

Headshot May 2015Editor's Note: We are adding a free, bonus event for the upcoming Security Awareness Summit, a half day session on the most effective ways to finding cyber talent in today's environment. Below Jim Michaud discusses the War for Cyber Talent event and what you can learn from it.

When was the last time you heard this one? "We can't find enough of the qualified people we need, and we are worried about keeping the people we have developed". It's called a War for Talent for a reason. The supply of qualified cyber professionals is far outstripped by the increasing demand, and there appears to be no end in sight. Nearly every social media outlet, on line article and print media routinely cites the issue as one of the most significant concerns in information security. So how did we land in this position and what can we do about it? The professional field of information security is still in its nascent phase, and the need for talent has grown more rapidly than anticipated.

The good news is that this is not the first time we have confronted a "war for talent". Whether it was electrical engineers in the 1980's or IT generalists in the '90's, we have managed these challenges in the past, and have developed strategies for increasing the supply of qualified professionals, as well as future leaders. A principle challenge today is that the academic community has not yet caught up with the speed of this change, which was much faster than previous career shifts. As more universities move to a stronger information security curriculum, this gap may begin to reduce. A great source of potential talent for the future is already in the pipeline in other Science, Technology, Engineering, and Match (STEM) disciplines. As information (and product) security grow at a faster rate, with more openings, at higher salaries, candidates entering the pipeline will see the potential growth opportunities and career paths in much the same way as past generations moved from civil and mechanical engineering to electrical engineering and IT.

Another source of talent for the information security profession lies in bringing more diversity to talent pool. SANS is becoming a leader in this effort with our recently piloted VetSuccess program for veterans leaving the military and our upcoming Women's Academies. These Academies will focus on identifying and developing early career, high potential women. There are other levers we can pull in addressing this important set of challenges, including developing a comprehensive human capital development strategy, getting Human Resources and information security leaders speaking the same language, and learning from the best practices (and mistakes) of our colleagues.

SANS is very excited to offer a special half day bonus Summit on the War for Cyber Talent in conjunction with our upcoming Awareness Summit in Philadelphia. The bonus Summit will take place on Thursday, August 20th. Space is limited, so be sure to sign up for this important session now.

Bio: Jim Michaud is The Director of Human Resources Business Development for the SANS Institute. He also teaches HR Strategy at the highly regarded School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University. He is also a frequent guest speaker on topics of high interest to the global HR community. He has over 30 years of experience in human resources in virtually every area of the globe. He is a Board member of The Detroit Manufacturing Renaissance Council and the Advisory Board of The Global Employment Institute.