Why hiring for skills future proofs business operations in cyber and tech

This article is part of our Opinions section.

Over the past 18 months, the biggest question on the minds of employees and employers alike is whether AI will replace the highly skilled workers who have been the backbone of their organisations for years.

In some ways, yes, it will. The rise of AI has brought a whole new set of skill requirements that have not traditionally been taught in education, even just a few years ago. Employees are well aware of this shift, with 25% of global workers recognising the great importance placed on AI proficiency today.

However, only one in ten workers currently possess the necessary AI skills, leading to 56% of business leaders in the technology/IT sector admitting to a significant tech skills shortage.

While the advent of AI may seem daunting, it presents a unique opportunity. It’s not about employees being left without a job but about job roles and hiring evolving alongside these advancements. The potential of candidates who not only adapt but embrace technological change is immense, making them the most coveted talent. However, organisations must acknowledge the skills gap created by AI and take steps to bridge it.

The traditional approach of hiring based solely on previous experience and formal education is no longer practical. The value of skills-based hiring has never been more apparent– organisations that embrace this approach cannot only keep up with the changing landscape but also gain a competitive edge. It’s time to shift the focus from what candidates have done in the past to what they can bring to the table regarding skills and adaptability.

The de-emphasis on past experience when hiring

10+ years’ experience required.” We have all likely encountered job advertisements demanding excessive years of experience – frankly, they have become outdated. This emphasis on experience is particularly irrelevant in the tech industry, where the value of traditional qualifications is diminishing. Highly sought after AI skills, now the key to future operational success, have only become mainstream in the last 18 months. As a result, organisations must shift their focus from experience to skills-based hiring to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation in the tech space.

Skills-based hiring has gained significant momentum in recent years, with 72% of employers using skills assessments to evaluate candidates’ potential for skills development and adaptability. This approach helps organisations identify individuals who can quickly learn and adapt to new technologies and processes. It also enables them to hire candidates who can contribute to the company’s growth and success, both now and in the future, as tech continues to transform due to innovations.

But I don’t work in a tech role.” Don’t be fooled by this. Even non-technical roles are now closely intertwined with technology. Technology plays a vital role for employees in various positions, from data analysis to generative AI. Change is inevitable for all of us, so adaptability is essential to success.

My advice to potential candidates is to prioritise applying for jobs with more forward-thinking organisations that promote modern engineering practices. The smaller the organisation, the easier it will be to try new things together. Fortunately, there are many open-source projects out there that candidates and employees can use without spending tons of money to get you going.

Hiring the right personality traits for success in tech

Did you know what skills a degree confers after graduation? It may come as a surprise. Still, most hiring employers and cybersecurity professionals lack a degree in cybersecurity – with over a quarter of IT professionals not having a degree. This tells us that formal education can’t always be a prerequisite for success in tech roles. While a solid educational background can be beneficial, organisations increasingly prioritise candidates with a self-learning attitude and the ability to think outside the box.

To do this, businesses need to assess candidate skills with a dual-faceted approach. On one hand, it’s essential to gauge how current and fresh a candidate’s skills are. In other words, organisations should try to assess whether the candidate is susceptible to obsolescence. If they are, the next and arguably more important thing will be to evaluate the candidate’s capability to enhance and update their skill set.

Personality traits indicate a candidate’s willingness to continuously learn and adapt to new technologies. Traits such as energy, curiosity, resilience and flexibility are highly valued as they demonstrate a candidate’s proactive approach towards self-improvement and overcoming challenges.

The ability to independently acquire new skills and knowledge is now highly valued, allowing potential employees to stay ahead of the curve in an industry where technology constantly evolves. Hiring candidates with this growth mindset and a thirst for knowledge is crucial for staying relevant and competitive in the future.

The benefits of skills-based hiring in cybersecurity

With the rise of AI potentially displacing 300 million jobs by 2030, organisations need to adapt their current recruiting models to capitalise on the transferable skills of AI-displaced candidates. Prioritising certified reskilling and upskilling can open new pathways to employment and address ongoing talent shortages.

Furthermore, businesses must provide better cybersecurity training to their employees to mitigate risks and protect sensitive data – broadening their talent pool to include AI-displaced individuals from unrelated fields. Building on this, businesses must also design their products and solutions with security in mind so employees can manage them at scale without needing deep cyber expertise.

It’s about managing the distribution of skills on the technical team and eliminating human error that may stem from. Skills-based hiring ensures that the workforce is equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to address cybersecurity challenges effectively.

Skills-based hiring has become a necessity for businesses to stay competitive. The emphasis on skills over traditional qualifications recognises the need for continuous learning, adaptability, and a self-learning attitude. As the cyber industry continues to evolve, skills-based hiring will remain vital for attracting and retaining top talent.

Organisations must adapt their hiring practices and prioritise skills and personality traits essential for success. In doing so, they can build a workforce ready to embrace AI and other future technological advancements and thrive in the digital age.

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Ev Kontsevoy, Teleport (1)
Ev Kontsevoy

Ev Kontsevoy is a serial tech entrepreneur and CEO of infrastructure access firm Teleport. He has contributed to TechFinitive under our opinions section