Cyber Security Professionals: The Hottest Job In Tech

The Technology Marketplace is filled with growth, and the Pandemic has just accelerated the pace. As of last year, the tech industry makes up about 12% of US GDP and includes more than 18 million jobs. Since the Pandemic this industry has exploded in growth and is now an even larger part of the economy.

And if you don’t believe these numbers consider this: the stock market cap of the five top tech companies (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google) is now equal to 15% of the US Stock Market valuation. (This is why the stock market indexes are rising.) Check out this chart, published in the last week.

FAANG stock growth vs. S&P 500

So Tech is as hot as we’ve ever seen it. (Feels a tiny bit like the 2000 .com time to me).

In the middle of all this growth, every major company is buying, building, and improving its digital systems. Companies like Capital One have built entire cloud infrastructure teams (and their own Digital Academy) so they can become technology leaders in their industry. I know some of the HR Tech leaders at JP Morgan Chase and they are some of the best technologists in the planet. Everyone is arming up with technical expertise.

CyberSecurity – The Fastest Growing Segment of All

When you look at all the jobs in tech, they fall into many categories:  software development, database, IT systems management and administration, user interface design, data analytics and machine learning, and many more. But as Microsoft pointed out in their latest research published this month, the fastest-growing segment of all is CyberSecurity.

According to Microsoft’s research, the global market for CyberSecurity professionals today is 744,000 professionals. In the next five years, Microsoft and LinkedIn believe this number will grow to 6.38 Million, a growth of 750% over five years!  I don’t believe there is another job category growing at this rate.

And today that job class is already out of control (or “inverted,” as puts it). Today, according to a report just released by Emsi (one of my favorite data companies), the United States demand for CyberSecurity professionals is twice the supply.

Just think about that. If you’re out there trying to hire a CyberSecurity expert, you’re not only competing with every other company in the market, but you’re competing in a market where 50% of the jobs are still open! It’s really a pretty incredible situation. (And this problem is far far worse than for tech in general – look at the next chart.)

Build vs. Buy: What Should You Do?

So this gets to the topic I wrote about last year – the “build vs. buy” decision in talent. Should you go out there and hire a recruiter, throw together a bonus plan, and aggressively compete to find these people? Or can you possibly build these skills yourself?, one of the leading new recruitment platforms in the market, would argue that their groundbreaking AI can find these people for you. And the answer is yes, they can,  but at a significant cost and effort. 

The Emsi report points out some very important issues to consider:

First, CyberSecurity, like many new fields, is a fast-changing “hybrid” job. It’s a complex role that demands experience with IT systems, math, finance, and business process. So like any professional discipline, you’ll find that professionals in this field come from many backgrounds.

I’ll point out that many fast-growing professions (HR as well) tend to look this way. In this case, the skills people need are both “hard” and “soft,” so they take time to develop. And most Cyber people learn the job on the job.

Second, CyberSecurity is not purely a tech profession. If you look at the trajectory (or adjacent roles) for this profession, many of these professionals come from IT, but more than half come from finance, business, and service. In fact one of the experts I talked with told me “the best Cyber professionals come from financial audit backgrounds.” These people are trained to look for inconsistencies, find anomalies among piles of data, and love to dig in and unlock the puzzle of a problem.

Third, Cyber jobs are very localized, so you may be in a location where it’s impossible to find people. As you could imagine, a lot of the Cyber experts are in Washington DC. But in other cities, Cyber experts in other domains pop up. In New York City, for example, there are more experts at financial cyber security. In Dallas and Houston there are experts in Energy systems. And in California and Seattle there are more experts in tools, social systems, and infrastructure.

So before you hire a recruiter and start your search, you may want to look at the available supply in each city (The Emsi research and have this data) to plan your outreach intelligently. 

Incidentally, in my research with Emsi we’ve found that “the locality of skills” is one of the biggest issues companies face. Driven by the history of various industries around the world, some cities are just deeper in certain skills than others.  (Stay tuned for our big report on HR professional skills for more on this.)

Fourth, you have to consider “building” vs. “buying” these skills. As the Emsi research points out, there are a few well-established certification bodies for Cyber, but people with many backgrounds can succeed in this profession. In fact, as you can see from the chart below, you don’t need an advanced degree and most of the career professionals have backgrounds in business and accounting.

What this means is that you have CyberSecurity job candidates right inside your company. 

One of the financial services companies I talked with about this told me that many of their most high-potential candidates with Math degrees were working in marketing, doing all sorts of marketing analysis. While these skills are important in marketing, some of these people want to go deep into more analytics jobs. As this data shows, they’d be good candidates for Cyber.

How do you “build” a Cyber expertise in your company? You have to build what I call a Capability Academy. There are Cyber bootcamps available from many vendors and they provide GIAC (Global Information Assurance Certifications) prep programs. While these courses are not inexpensive, they may be more cost-effective than trying to find these skills in the market.

And remember that your investment in these skills will pay off. Right now we’re all worried about the Pandemic Black Swan. But another Cyber Black Swan is likely to happen in the future, so I’d advise you to build your own Cyber expertise and think about this as a core capability for your company. Just like every company has salespeople, marketing staff, and database experts, you also need a Cyber team as well. So the sooner you start the better. And the L&D market is here to help you.

Finally, if you’re an IT, finance, security, or tech professional and you want to jump on a fast-moving wave, I’d encourage you to explore this field. With a job market that is expected to grow seven-fold in the next five years, it may be a ticket to an amazing future.