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15th August 2023

Experience Can Be Great, But It’s Not Everything: The “Entry Level” Paradox

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Entry level SOC analyst wanted – minimum 5 years of experience required. Sound familiar? This all-too-common scenario is damaging to prospective candidates and recruitment teams alike and does nothing to help deal with the shortfall of required cyber security professionals in the U.K. If this issue is to be rectified, we need to reassess the way we recruit for these roles and change our thinking around what can offer the most value to a cyber security workforce.

The ever-broadening digital landscape has meant a rapid expansion in all areas of Cyber Security and as the demand for skilled professionals continues to surge, the value of experience cannot be denied. However, it’s essential to recognize that experience, while valuable, is not the sole determinant of success in this industry.

Experience undoubtedly brings a lot to the table, not least of all, demonstrable know-how in the relevant field. Yet, focusing solely on experience can inadvertently limit opportunities for growth, diversity and fresh perspectives, whilst creating a barrier that makes the industry impenetrable for all but a lucky few. Maybe it’s time to adopt a more well-rounded approach to recruitment, that considers more than just how long somebody has worked in their field.

Instead of offering a salary of £50k for a level 2 SOC Analyst, why not attach a more junior salary, whilst nurturing and developing fresh talent with the relevant qualifications and promote from within? That 6 months spent looking for a unicorn who could meet all of the criteria for a role, could have been spent giving someone their first months of experience and growing them into the best candidate for that role, who already works within the company ethos.

The IT and cybersecurity landscape is multifaceted, with a range of specializations, from network security to ethical hacking. Relying solely on experience will lead to a lack of exposure to emerging trends, training and technologies. Combining experienced professionals with those who bring diverse skills and backgrounds can foster greater innovation and creativity within teams.

Professionals who demonstrate a thirst for continuous learning and a willingness to adapt can often bring fresh insights to complex problems. A newcomer with a solid foundation and a passion for staying current can contribute just as much as someone with years of experience. Soft skills are also not a given when it comes to experience and whilst technical proficiency is crucial, problem-solving abilities, effective communication, teamwork, and adaptability are equally important.

Another drawback of relying solely on experience when considering hiring needs is that it could well inadvertently perpetuate a lack of diversity within the sector. Embracing candidates from different backgrounds and experiences can lead to a more inclusive work environment and a broader range of perspectives, ultimately allowing for forward movement and enhancing innovation.

Experience is undoubtedly a valuable asset when considering recruitment needs, however, it’s crucial to recognize that it’s not the sole indicator of potential success. A blend of diverse skills, a commitment to continuous learning and a focus on problem-solving and soft skills can lead to well-rounded teams that thrive in the ever-evolving Cybersecurity field. By embracing a more holistic approach to hiring, both employers and job seekers can navigate the opportunities in these sectors with confidence that they are futureproofing against the very real cyber threat.