Over 60 percent of companies in the United States have been on the receiving end of cyber attacks and the hacking threat has been on the rise as technology improves. With this worrying trend, safeguarding data has become one of the most important issues for companies across every industry. The shortage of qualified professionals means more intense competition for top talent, and companies vying for highly skilled pros also have to compete with the Armed Forces, Department of Defense, and government agencies like the FBI, CIA, and NSA. Here are some key points to keep in mind when on the hunt for top cyber security talent.


Offer Competitive Rewards

On the job board Indeed, average entry-level salaries for cyber security professionals range from $53,961 for entry-level analysts to $113,119 for IT Security Specialists. Overall salaries average around $116,000, and many CISO’s can make up to $380,000 or more. As every recruiter knows, it’s important to match salary levels with the demands of the job, and the typical requirements for even entry-level cyber security positions usually require several years of IT experience, which is already a high earning job market. Hiring top talent won’t be a cheap enterprise, but will be well worth it considering the cost of data breaches, which averaged $3.5 million in 2017 according to the Ponemon Institute.


Expand Recruiting Horizons

An increasing number of professionals are looking to make the switch from traditional IT occupations to information security. Before hiring externally, businesses should check if members of their own staff have the necessary skills and aptitude required for cyber security work. The advantage of recruiting internally is that your employees are already up to speed on the company culture and best practices, but effective onboarding programs can ensure the smooth transition of outside hires into their new jobs. Many startup accelerators and bootcamps attract a wide range of dynamic and talented individuals who are looking to make their mark in cyber security and other IT areas. Sponsoring or participating in these events increases brand exposure in niche markets and provides direct access to skilled pros who thrive in the kind of work environments conducive to successful cyber security work.


Make Military Connections

Given the high tech nature of modern warfare and the increasing cyber threats from state-sponsored hacker groups, the armed forces have been increasingly engaged in preparing recruits as information security analysts. With the cutting-edge training and hands-on experience provided by the military, it’s common for veterans to transition into the private sector after serving, and some programs like FortiVets help them make the switch to a civilian career with fewer road bumps. Former military personnel working in intelligence and security analysis tend to have a strong aptitude for work in cyber security. Whether protecting networks and information security infrastructure (Defensive Security) or testing them for weaknesses (Offensive Security), valuable skills like teamwork, working efficiently under time pressure and learning to “think like the enemy” are learned and utilized daily. By following this example with specific crash courses and onboarding programs that help vets leverage their skills to meet their everyday information security challenges, companies can increase their appeal to this talented group of professionals. For companies that have service contracts with the government, hiring veterans also helps them to meet Veterans Preference and security clearance requirements.


Optimize your Work Environment

With the fierce competition for skilled security experts, potential candidates are weighing their offers from an increasingly demanding frame. To ward off competitors,  it may be necessary to increase the attractiveness of benefits packages. This is especially the case if you’re located in an area outside of traditional tech hubs and urban centers. Beyond offering high salaries and great health benefits, making the work environment and daily routine in your office as attractive as possible will go along way towards acquiring, developing and retaining talent. It’s important to make sure that employees are happy at their jobs and pleased with the level of work they produce. Opportunities for career advancement and continued learning are also highly valued, so never miss a chance to recognize a job well done and have staff members attend conferences, workshops, and professional social events. Since many cyber security positions involve daily contact with sensitive or confidential company data, building trust becomes all the more important when it comes to avoiding potential insider threats from information leaks.