What is the Great Resignation?
An interesting phenomenon is happening within the American economy. A supply chain backlog is causing shortages of products, while job vacancies are at an all-time high. In fact, the number of U.S. workers leaving the job market is at record levels. At a time when the economy needs workers to fulfill the backlog, employees are quitting their jobs in record numbers. In the month of September 2021, an estimated 4.4 million workers quit their jobs. This represents only about 3% of the workforce but this trend has been rising since 2019, with many employees leaving the workforce over concerns about COVID-19 or having been laid off because organizations were going out of business as a result of the pandemic. Most of the people quitting their jobs are in the food service and retail industry. These sectors of the economy always have higher levels of resignations than other industries, but the overall trends are higher for almost all sectors of the economy.
What is causing this issue?
The pandemic has changed the way people think of work. Many workers who were forced to work from home during the 2020 COVID shutdown prefer this option. Many employees are recognizing the need for better work-life balance after the pandemic shutdown gave them the opportunity to spend more time with family, work on other projects and experience flexibility. However, estimates are that only 25-30% of current jobs can be performed remotely from home. Therefore, workers are competing for these available jobs even if that means taking a pay cut. For some employees, eliminating their commute and saving on the commute and childcare costs outweigh the reduction in salary. Employees are expecting their employers to compete for their work by offering more benefits and flexible hours. Additionally, employees seem to want more purpose in their work lives. Neuroscientist David Rock states “When the outside world is really uncertain, you need more purpose in your day-to-day.”
Job availability in a changing market
Demographics can also be a reason for the disparity in job openings versus applicants. The current number of open jobs is estimated at 10.4 million and the number of unemployed workers sits at 7.4 million. That equates to roughly 3 million more job openings than employees. This essentially means employees have the flexibility to look for better-paying jobs with more flexible work hours and employers who are desperate to fill vacancies are offering more and more benefits to attract these workers. The job vacancies put pressure on front-line workers particularly in the service industry, who have to work more hours than normal to pick up the slack. The massive surge for goods and services due to pent-up demand as a result of the pandemic shutdown has created all kinds of additional pressure, which causes frustration within the workforce. This fact is particularly true when these frontline workers are not getting paid more per hour to fill the worker gaps. Thus, employees looking for greater satisfaction and benefits seek those opportunities elsewhere and join in the phenomenon of the Great Resignation.
Has the Great Resignation impacted cyber security careers?
As an industry already experiencing labor shortages, cybersecurity may see benefits of the Great Resignation as people seek a stronger work-life balance and higher pay with remote jobs. Cyber jobs typically pay better and can be performed remotely, making it the ideal career for post-pandemic employees. The cybersecurity industry currently has zero unemployment due to the desperate need for qualified recruits, so the key for incoming job-seekers is to develop the necessary skill set to successfully transition into a cyber career.
Developing the Skillset
The IT/Cyber industry is constantly evolving, so much so that employers are searching for industry-certified skills that recent college graduates often lack. HelpSystems CISO Chris Reffkin commented on this issue, stating that “the [cybersecurity] landscape is moving so fast that a new college graduate’s training is already behind.” Few colleges offer semester courses focused exclusively on specific industry certifications, in large part because qualified instructors and consistent curriculum are in short supply for programs such as these. Even then, there are issues with matching students who want specific certifications to the number of seats required to host a full course.
For those lacking a college degree, cybersecurity training can be developed via personal study or an IT/Cyber Bootcamp that trains on the skills necessary to pass industry-certified exams. Ultimately, these industry certifications will open a plethora of cybersecurity job opportunities to those who have them and allow them to find success in the industry.
Industry Recruitment Tools
A useful tool to help potential candidates find cybersecurity jobs is the www.cyberseek.com website. Cyberseek is sponsored by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), and industry partners such as CISCO and CompTIA have created a web portal that details what jobs are available in every state and major metropolitan area throughout the country. The website features jobs by title and field of study available by locale, in addition to the supply and demand for such jobs and how many certification holders exist in these regions. A potential recruit can see if the market has a demand for certain certifications and can view on the site what Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) these jobs require. Cyberseek maps to the NICE Workforce Framework to align the KSAs to job titles and assists potential candidates to find a pathway within the cyber profession that best suits their interests.
So, What’s Next?
Now more than ever is an excellent time to find a cyber job. While the Great Resignation may go down in history as a shift in the American workforce. It may also be a tremendous boost to the cybersecurity field that so desperately needs recruits to fill job vacancies. With the proper tools and training, employees fleeing the pre-pandemic work environment can find tremendous growth and success in the cybersecurity industry.