If you’re on the search for your next security candidate, you may be in the process of deciding which qualifications you’re looking for. Certifications and advanced degrees are no doubt high on your list, but these standards can actually be misleading.
Many tech candidates look great on paper, but lack real-world experience to prepare them for the often unpredictable nature of the security field. So instead of limiting your search to credentialed workers, broaden your job description to include those with experience as well.
The ideal security candidate has the ability to think clearly and logically in trying circumstances, and this is a skill gained only through experience. For someone who has worked on security projects or undergone cyber attacks, a level-headed response is second nature to them. As a result, they’re more likely to know what works and remain solution-oriented throughout the situation.
Given the talent shortage, you may find yourself impressed by candidates with a long list of certifications or an advanced degree in an IT field. However, candidates who are highly credentialed but lacking in experience have a tremendous amount of information stockpiled without a solid understanding of how to apply that knowledge in real-world scenarios. A candidate who has active experience in the security industry, on the other hand, can respond to threats (even if they’re lacking certifications or a degree).
While certification can be a great tool for those looking to develop their career, a resume that’s overloaded with certifications can indicate a lack of direction and focus in the candidate. Additionally, if you’re working with a recruiter to identify talented candidates, these certifications can serve as a smokescreen for recruiters inexperienced with the industry.
That being said, certifications are a great addition to an otherwise solid resume. But don’t allow these credentials to be your only focus. Rather, look into the candidate’s work experience and the projects they’ve pioneered both with their previous companies and on their own. This real-world experience can allow your candidate to identify threats early in their development and respond to them in an effective, timely manner. A candidate with only certifications or schooling won’t have the same response.
So as you gear up for your next big hire, keep in mind the weight that real experience carries in a resume. Even if an interview has pages of credentials, their most important asset is their time spent putting their wealth of knowledge to use.
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