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Tech vs. culture: Starting a career in cyber

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens)

While technical talent is hugely important, it’s not the be all and end all when considering a career in cyber. Opportunities in the industry will continue to boom and with a growing shortage of talent across the country, the doors need to be opened wider to non-traditional candidates. Instead of technical qualifications, hiring managers are starting to look out for traits such as a passion for cyber, ability to problem-solve and good attention to detail when recruiting for entry level jobs. It’s not an easy task switching careers and training your brain and skill set for cyber, but if you have the grit and determination you can enjoy a rewarding career.

Is cyber the one?

All of us face the tricky decision of choosing our career at some point or another. Some may know straight away, others may simply hope for the best that they end up liking their job and that it somewhat resembles their interests. People might stress over salary or location or hours, and while these factors are important, enjoying your job should also be a priority.

People need to think about the bigger picture when making their career choice and the key to finding a career that is enjoyable and rewarding lies in matching your principles to the work. Take a step back and think about what makes you happy and what you care about. If you can find these values in a job role, it will make your work so much more satisfying.

Cyber holds a big appeal for those looking to help others. Not only does the industry offer exciting work as it continues to thrive and expand, but cyber-professionals can tackle serious issues without becoming emotionally involved. At the end of the day, cybersecurity work is meaningful, interesting and challenging, and working in cyber can be hugely satisfying when you see the positive impact of your work. 

Beyond the technical skills

Despite the ongoing talent shortage across technology industries, there still seems to be a frustrating emphasis on the requirement for technical qualifications in cyber roles. Of course, technical skills are a big advantage; not only do you bring a solid basis of technical knowledge and understanding but it’s likely you’ll be able to pick up new skills easier.

This focus does mean that potential candidates might be put off from making the career switch to cyber. But lacking technical proficiency is an easy enough hurdle to overcome with time and effort. Not only are there plenty of training courses for all areas of cyber, but the most valuable skills and knowledge will be learned on the job.

While candidates may, at first, lack the technical know-how, those from non-technical backgrounds can bring some much-needed alternative skills to the cyber-industry. A challenge for many companies operating in the cybersphere is the lack of communication and people skills that are crucial to successfully completing work. Having employees with business understanding, strategic analysis and leadership talent can help teams collaborate much more effectively. On a wider scale, soft skills can be handy for developing key relationships with partners, clients and new businesses.

Company culture is crucial

Hiring managers will always be on the lookout for candidates they think will fit in well but it also works the other way; you need to find a company that matches your own values, culture and personality. By researching the company and reading employee reviews, you can find some great insight into how the company operates and treats its employees. Good companies will take on applicants who might not have that technical skill to hand at first, but will give them a learning period to allow them to familiarise themselves with both the cyber-landscape and the business.

Matching a company’s culture also means you can settle in quickly and build strong connections with your team from the outset. This is extremely important in the cyber-field as you need to build trust with clients and co-workers to get the best results.

Discovering your cyber career

With the cyber-industry booming and job opportunities continuing to rise, now is the perfect time to consider that career in cyber. Not only are there opportunities to work with interesting companies and gain valuable experience, but also learn new skills, and in turn improve your own personal development. Gaining these sought-after skills mean you will be in constant demand as the industry expands.

It’s really important to consider your interest in cyber; having that passion for the work and the industry will be the make or break point. With work taking up such a large amount of our time, it’s so important that we don’t sacrifice it for something we’ve no interest in and don’t enjoy. If your values match and you find a company that is willing to invest in your training and development, cybersecurity can be an extremely rewarding career.

Venny Nikolova, cyber-consultant, 6point6

Venny Nikolova is a cyber consultant at 6point6 and specialises in the development of reporting and monitoring capabilities and incident response.