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Professional Entrepreneurial Practice

08 Mar 2023,4:57 PM




Global tech giants like Facebook, Google, Twitter have lately been on the news for mass layoffs in their different technical and engineering teams. While there has been a perception that the IT industry offers attractive remuneration and employment stability, these mass layoffs suggest the precarity of jobs in the computing industry. Nonetheless, some segments like the cyber security remain highly understaffed due to shortage of talent and skilled personnel. As this shortage cuts across the private and government cyber security needs, this workbook provides a critical overview of the prospects in the cybersecurity field. While tailored for government cyber security positions, it has wide application in the broader cybersecurity sector.

Through diagrammatic presentations, it highlights the features that would make a cybersecurity position appealing and a strategic fit. It also provides a brief overview of strategic HRM practices that guide selection and recruitment. An awareness of these selection practices will increase the readiness of potential hires.

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What makes a successful job in cybersecurity?


High innovative organizational culture

Participation in hacking competitions, and sponsorship of hacking competitions and industry-wide conferences

Professional development

Inhouse training and sponsored education opportunities

Attractive remuneration

Financial and non-financial benefits


What makes a poor job fit in cybersecurity?

How can we avoid this happening?

Low innovation output

Research internal organizational culture to ensure that hierarchy does not stifle innovation

Inadequate professional trainings

Confirm the provision of regular professional training courses


Given the increasing vulnerability of critical public infrastructure and corporate resources to threats like ransomware and hacking, the political will to fight cybercrimes has reinforced the need for adequate staffing in private and government cyber security roles. Importantly, the realisation of talent shortage in cybersecurity has incentivised governments and private sector to sponsor cyber security competitions as a way of increasing vocational and professional interest in cyber security careers. There is thus an explosion of interest in the recruitment of a skilled cybersecurity workforce to increase organizational effectiveness and efficiency while ensuring the security and integrity of government and private systems.

As cybersecurity threats will keep evolving and the government’s need for secure services will continue growing, the cyber security labour market is highly competitive and it provides job stability. Accordingly, the career analysis leverages Porter’s 5 Forces and Popcorn’s Universal Screen Test in evaluating the stability of the cybersecurity field and identifying if it is an organizational fit for a potential hire. The review of whether the position is fit proceeds in light of one’s personal values and professional goals, and broader principles of good governance.

A major factor contributing to labour demand in the cybersecurity sector is political will. While some organizations have been relying on additional hours and overtime wages to address its labour shortage, the political decision by the new mayor to hire more entry-level cybersecurity workers has created a demand for competent cybersecurity staff.

Another determinant of labour demand is job security. Intangible factors like likelihood of advancement and low chances of lay-offs increase the attractiveness of a position. A significant number of cybersecurity personnel is due for promotion thus increasing the demand for entry-level workers. Demographic factors such as age that contribute to voluntary and involuntary termination also drive job demand by increasing the need to replace the workers leaving employment or those leaving their positions because of promotion.

At the same time, the unionization of workers makes their position more attractive. Protection of workers’ rights is a labour pull factor and it drives demand because workers are more inclined towards unionized jobs. However, cybersecurity workers are not unionized. Nonetheless, this does not reduce the appeal and satisfaction associated with cybersecurity.

However, pervasive IT outsourcing practices might hamper recruitment efforts. Specifically, outsourcing to Asian countries like India lowers operating costs. Nonetheless, some cybersecurity tasks cannot be outsourced due to the sensitive nature of information. Still, government restrictions on the export and licensing of technologies like cryptography might affect demand for domestic labour.

Given that cities cannot meet their internal labour needs, the high living expenses in some cities serve as a labour migration push factor. Notably, the high costs disincentivize state residents from seeking jobs in the city with a high number preferring out-of-state jobs. Similarly, a significant number of students pursue higher education in other states because of the state’s high tuition rates. In turn, this makes the city unattractive for education and reduces the number of college graduates from colleges in the state or other states seeking employment in the cyber department. Poor job prospects further discourage people from seeking jobs in the state as poor labour security increases job uncertainty thus making most positions unattractive. Altogether, the high living costs and poor job prospects dissuade qualified candidates from seeking local jobs with many preferring to seek out of state opportunities.

From a Porter’s framework, the positions are competitive and offer long-term security with potential for advancement. Here, the government cybersecurity recruitment efforts tend to focus on developing a talented and diverse workforce. The recruitment objectives are thus, first, to hire a diverse workforce by recruiting individuals from different backgrounds as this will bring in new ideas and foster multiculturalism. Second, the recruitment should cut costs by replacing overtime with a regular workforce. Third, the recruitment process should enhance worker retention.

Drawing on work needs, the recruitment should target skilled individuals with requisite education, ethics, and multicultural attributes like bilingual skills. Accordingly, the recruitment should mainly target cybersecurity analysts from other firms or students with cybersecurity-related training.


The rationale for the two target groups is to meet the short-term and long-term needs of the cyber department by developing a skilled workforce in a manner that resolves the demographic challenges of an aging workforce and retaining more workers (Bratton and Gold, 2017). In line with the resource-based theory, it is challenging to imitate talent because of the rarity of human capital (Storey, 2016). Accordingly, targeting experienced cybersecurity workers lowers budgetary costs of training new employees. This is consistent with the objective to cut costs. Still, targeting employees from other firms will increase diversity aspects like multiculturalism and diversity in terms of professional breadth (Bratton and Gold, 2017)

For the target groups, the best ways of reaching them is through advertising. External job advertising will attract skilled personnel in a non-discriminatory manner. Suitable platforms for placing the advertisements include the cyber unit’s website and online job portals such as LinkedIn and Monster. Since the focus is on external personnel, the job portals will allow the cyber department to recruit motivated personnel thus enhancing retention.

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For the selection plan, government cybersecurity unit should focus on identifying candidates who will contribute to the operational excellence of the department. To attract the most competitive candidates, the recommended selection methods are administering personality tests, conducting interviews, and administering aptitude tests (Armstrong and Taylor, 2014). Selection procedures that focus on skills and emotions are highly useful because they help organizations to avoid skilled employees who might be a poor fit because of emotional inadequacies (Armstrong and Taylor, 2014; Storey, 2016). Conversely, recruiting candidates with high emotional intelligence but lowly skilled might disadvantage employers by increasing the financial expenses of upskilling through training. As a result, it is prudent to design and implement an effective selection plan.

The entry-level position is highly collaborative making it necessary to determine the emotional stability and temperaments of candidates (Storey, 2016). Standardising the personality tests will reduce bias and increase validity of the behavioural assessment of candidates (Armstrong and Taylor, 2014). In turn, this will improve the chances of recruiting candidates with high emotional intelligence required for the challenging and emotionally intense cybersecurity work.

After administering the personality tests, the cybersecurity department should interview candidates. Interviewing the candidates will reduce the number of applicants. Through on-site interviews, the department will acquire incredible insights into the candidates’ personalities and abilities. The panel should comprise of members from the government cybersecurity leadership who can assess the technical abilities of the candidates. Still, the interview should be objective and it should evaluate the leadership skills of the candidates. Another advantage of interviewing candidates is that the interactive feedback can predict person-organization fit and personal values that are compatible with the organizational environment of the cybersecurity department. Through situational interviews, the panel can determine whether an employee’s education and experience are relevant to the position. At the same time, it allows the panel to check a candidate’s problem-solving skills (Armstrong and Taylor, 2014). Additionally, the interview will provide an opportunity for the candidates to learn about the government cybersecurity department and self-select for organizational fit.

Thirdly, the aptitude tests will determine candidate qualification. Aptitude tests provide a fair way of selecting candidates for the demanding analysts’ duties (Bratton and Gold, 2017). Notably, cybersecurity analysts should have excellent reasoning and interpersonal communication skills because the work requires agile thinking.

Selection tests are relevant in identifying the fitness of candidates to job settings. One way of establishing the relevance of a candidate’s skills to the entry-level cybersecurity position is by administering personality tests (Greer, 2021). Personality tests like the big five personality test will determine scores for agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, and emotional stability. In turn, this will play a critical role in identifying traits and characteristics that predict effectiveness and team dynamics (Greer, 2021). Cybersecurity analysts work in teams and they should be individually accountable and collectively responsible for their performance and general team’s effectiveness.

Second, cognitive ability tests due to their high success rate in predicting applicant’s capability can be used to determine job fitness. Cognitive tests focus on the reasoning or mental ability of candidates. High scores in cognitive tests predict high probability for success. These scores can also be used in designing training that can enhance team’s effectiveness in different tasks.

Background checks

During the selection process, the qualified candidates should be offered the entry-level positions contingent upon passing a background check and returning favourable drug tests. The background check should be conducted after the interview (Armstrong and Taylor, 2014). It should involve a contact of the candidate’s references and security checks to determine good behaviour and competence. Analysts should have impeccable conduct as their work requires ethical decision-making. A candidate’s references are best placed to speak about their character and credentials. Similarly, a security check assists in determining the suitability and fitness of a candidate to the position (Bratton and Gold, 2017). Regarding the drug tests, they should be performed after interviews pending the candidate’s decision to accept the offer. The results from the drug tests should be confidential and should only be used to cancel or confirm job offers pending the candidate’s decision to accept or reject the offers.

Hiring is bound to attract poorly qualified candidates if a proper job analysis and appropriate selection methods are not employed (Zięba-Olma, 2017). One of the methods of determining the success of the recruitment and selections plans is measuring the time taken to hire (Skeeled, 2022). Lengthy hiring periods decrease success and cost-effectiveness of the process as candidates are likely to take offers from other employers. The recruitment should focus on reducing the time taken between different hiring processes and job offer.

Another method of measuring the recruitment’s effectiveness is by calculating the cost per hire. Expensive hiring is inefficient and the selection process should lower costs in different stages such as advertising, onboarding, among others. Cost-cutting measures like using referrals optimize value for money by reducing the cost per hire thus increasing the effectiveness of the recruitment strategy. Skeeled (2022) identifies the number of qualified candidates that a position attracts as another metric for measuring the success of hiring strategies. According to Skeeled (2022), a high number of qualified candidates who pass the screening stages indicate the effectiveness of the hiring process. Fourth, a selection strategy will be deemed successful if it attracts quality. Quality is associated with factors like organizational fit, high productivity, low turnover and enhanced performance.


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Armstrong, M. and Taylor, S., 2014Armstrong's handbook of human resource management practice. Kogan Page Publishers.

Bratton, J., and Gold, J. 2017. Human resource management: theory and practice. Palgrave.

Cyber intelligence officer | Explore careers | National careers service. n.d. Careers advice - job profiles, information and resources | National Careers Service.

Greer, C. R. 2021. Strategic human resource management. Pearson Custom Publishing.

Skeeled. 2022, October 10. How to evaluate the effectiveness of your talent acquisition strategy. HRTech247. Available at

Storey, J. 2016. Human resource management. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.

Zięba-Olma, K., 2017. Evaluation of the effectiveness of recruitment for hiring managers. Nowadays and Future Jobs1, pp.23-28.


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