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According to (ISC)2‘s 2021 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, the most sought after qualifications when hiring cybersecurity professionals now include a broad array of non-technical skills and attributes. The extensive skills gap within the cybersecurity industry requires hiring managers to look outside of solely technical qualifications and formal education to find talent with the capacity to develop the technical skills needed. As such, hiring managers increasingly look to this list of skills cyber professionals need when evaluating potential candidates, especially when the position targets new entrants to the field.

8 Qualification & Skills All Cyber Professionals Need

1. Problem-solving capabilities

Strong problem-solving abilities benefit nearly every job role. However, this skill greatly benefits a cyber professional whose job relies on solving computer security problems. Whether you hold a blue team or red team position or work somewhere in between, all your work revolves around solving known problems or anticipating and solving potential problems.

2. Curiosity

The cybersecurity industry is constantly changing. New tools, new attacks and new vulnerabilities arise daily and those who stay curious and eager to learn these skills and uncover solutions to these problem will stay at the top of their field.

3. Cybersecurity certifications

Certifications enhance any professional’s resume and this couldn’t ring more true for cybersecurity professionals. The cyber industry is constantly evolving, as such, certification offers a more realistic approach to educating yourself on new developments within the industry. While you can earn a degree or concentration in cybersecurity from a 4-year university, the skills attained through such a program will likely become outdated quickly. Certification offers the ability to keep your knowledge, skills and abilities refreshed frequently.

4. Strong communication skills

Cybersecurity professionals need to advocate for their work and strong communication skills are necessary to do that. Whether you need to set realistic expectations for delivery timelines, relay a sense of urgency to patch a specific vulnerability or request additional resources, communication is key to getting these needs met.

5. Relevant cybersecurity experience

The right experience always enhances a resume. If you have paid, intern or volunteer cybersecurity experience, make sure to highlight that in your resume and during any interviews. A lack of cybersecurity specific experience, however, won’t break your chances at landing a job. (ISC)2‘s study found that while 31% of managers seek out this trait while hiring, 38% look for problem-solving skills and 32% look for curiosity. Your other skills can definitely make up for a lack of specific cyber work.

6. Relevant IT experience

Most people who land an entry-level cybersecurity position do so through a feeder role. Feeder roles are those jobs that are in a very different industry but require and nurture many of the same skills needed in another industry. In the case of starting a career in cybersecurity, previous IT work as a helpdesk technician, systems administrator or other similar role can be a great segue into the cyber field.

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7. Knowledge of key cybersecurity concepts

When it comes to skills cyber professionals need, understanding key concepts is highly sought after. You may not have the on-the-job experience but if you have the curiosity to learn and a basic understanding of core cyber security concepts, hiring managers see you as a perfect entry-level candidate that they can easily grow and nurture to fit their organizational needs. Keep in mind, there are simply not enough candidates with specific and measurable cybersecurity skills to fill the number of open positions available. Hiring managers spend as much time evaluating your capacity to learn as they do the technical skills you can already bring to the table. Showcasing your knowledge and how you attained it can be key factors in determining your overall fit.

8. Strategic thinking skills

Just like strong problem-solving capabilities, every job can benefit from strategic thinking skills. As a cyber professional, finding unique ways to drive value can greatly enhance your work. Strategically thinking cyber professionals drive innovation and innovation is the gateway to success in this ever-evolving field.

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