If There's Cybersecurity Skills Shortage, Why Is It So Hard to Land Your First Job?

Inaugural Edition

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Becoming Cyber Newsletter. Our mission is to make cybersecurity careers accessible to more people.


Cybersecurity recruiting is a bit… well, broken. Sure, the industry talks about the challenges of recruiting and the talent gap. A couple years ago Cybersecurity Ventures predicted there would be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity globally by 2021 (um, this year). The 2020 (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study estimated a workforce gap of 3.12 million cybersecurity professionals, including a shortage of over 359,000 workers in the United States. Based on that shortage, it seems like the industry would be snatching up new people left and right, doesn’t it?

Sure, there’s a 0% unemployment rate for experienced cybersecurity professionals. However, students and career changers still find it challenging to break into cybersecurity. I talk to students and career changers all the time, who express their frustration in trying to land that first cybersecurity job. On the flipside I also talk to fellow cybersecurity leaders, who complain how hard it is to find talent.

Cybersecurity is a future-proof career field, in high demand. Yet, we have new entrants struggling to find jobs and hiring managers claiming they can’t find qualified candidates. There is clearly a disconnect. Like porcupines mating, cybersecurity recruiting is proving hard to efficiently execute.

So who’s to blame? Nobody and everybody. Such an unsatisfying answer, I know. Okay, let’s be more specific:

  • Many recruiters are looking for this cybersecurity archetype, which is not that common in the wild and certainly won’t scale to fill the talent gap. (More on this archetype later.)

  • Many hiring managers do a poor job crafting and posting entry-level positions. If I see one more entry-level role requiring 2-3 years of experience, I might throw my MacBook out the window!

  • Many students and career changers are unrealistic about what entry-level roles they’re qualified for and struggle to market themselves well.

  • Many teachers and mentors are not adequately preparing their students and mentees for the realities of cybersecurity job hunting.

Cybersecurity has a challenge as an industry filling this talent gap. But it’s a great field to be in. So we’re going to use the Becoming Cyber Newsletter to share some knowledge and maybe have a laugh or two.

Getting more qualified people into cybersecurity roles benefits everyone involved. So let’s dig in.


Share with anyone considering a cybersecurity career.

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