Could keeping who you already have be the answer to the cyber skills gap?
The BeecherMadden 2016 salary survey, showed that 78% of candidates in cyber security jobs were open to moving roles during 2016. Over half of those expected that their next move would be external. With LinkedIn reporting that cyber professionals are moving jobs twice as often as those in other professions, it is clear that the industry is facing something of a retention crisis. Reports on how many cyber jobs are vacant vary, with figures ranging from 25% to 50% of roles going unfilled. Companies are trying to attract talent in a difficult market place, with plenty of jobs, not enough candidates and ever-rising salaries. Could keeping who you already have be the answer?
Career progression was listed as the number one reason for candidates to move jobs. While an increase in salary was a close second, it was the opportunity for professional advancement that took the top spot. Another trend this year, was that experience vs level of role, were more aligned. In the past couple of years we have seen candidates with job titles that seemed bigger than their experience or salary level would have suggested. It seems the industry has caught up. However, showing your employees how they can quickly advance to the next level, or putting them through qualifications to do so, is a great way of retaining people in cyber jobs. That move has to be quick however; traditional times for promotion are not doing enough to retain the top employees. Often companies have a 12 month qualifying period to obtain promotion and this may be too long to attract and retain the best.
It is always tempting to pay employees more and think that will retain them. Tempting, although not always possible! While it is true that candidates are typically getting increases of 15-25% when they move job, it may not be this simple. While more money tends to be the decider at offer stage, and is the go-to answer in our salary survey, the reasons for leaving a job are often more complex. At the initial interview we do at BeecherMadden, candidates are more likely to suggest reasons such as career progression, dissatisfaction with work-life balance or their working environment as why they want to leave.
Creating a more attractive or flexible working environment, could be key when it comes to those in cyber jobs. Cyber recruitment is very easy for well funded, fast growth enterprises. They are seen as specialist companies where cyber knowledge is valued above corporate politics. They also often have great flexible working opportunities. If you are a large corporate entity, it can be difficult to change company policy for, what will be, a relatively small team in the business. However, this might be just the thing you need. If you could let your cyber staff work from home more of the time, they may be less likely to leave when a new opportunity is presented to them.
So one question would be that surely retention is self-regulating? Don’t companies get put off by candidates that job hop? Traditionally this has been the case. Companies like to see 2 – 10 years with one employer. One mistake can be overlooked but several roles with short tenure typically reflect badly. However, with such demand in cyber security recruitment, companies are focussed more on skills and achievements, than they are tenure in a role. They are so keen to find someone who can do the job, they are prepared to take the risk that they may not stay for the long term. This is also reflective of a changing job market. Millennials do not expect to spend as long in a job as previous generations and the amount of time spent in a job, is no longer seen as the achievement it once was. Whether this will affect people in future job applications remains to be seen. As the demand in cyber recruitment does not seem to be slowing down, it may be a problem that is someway off for candidates.
BeecherMadden is a leading search and selection business, focused on providing corporate governance, resilience & security and digital & technology recruitment solutions.