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#ISC2Congress: Millennials in Cybersecurity: What They Want, What They Need and How to Keep Them

At the (ISC)2 Congress in Austin, Texas, on September 25, a panel of millennials answered questions from the session moderator and the audience about millennials in the information security industry. The panel tackled topics including mentoring, disconnect between hiring managers’ expectations and millennials’ priorities, certifications, role diversity and how to keep millennials in their roles.

The session turned into an “us vs them” debate with non-millennials in the audience throwing out terms like “lazy”, “fickle”, “mile-wide, inch deep consultants”. The panel of millennials handled the comments commendably, remaining calm, considered and honest. Their information security job wish list, they say, is all about career progression, respect, fluidity and being kept interested.

Panelists included:

  1. Moderator: Charles Gaughf (age 32), Security lead, (ISC)2
  2. Ciera Lovitt (age 29), educational program specialist, Centre for Cyber Safety and Education
  3. Raghu Gadam (age 27), security analyst, (ISC)2
  4. Michael McIntyre (age 26), security engineer, Disney

Why do millennials find leadership training and mentorship more important than previous generations?

RG: Mentorship and training is a way of keeping people in jobs. It’s a way for organizations to retain employees.

CL: I value relationships. Employees need to remember that we’re new to the workforce and we need mentors and leadership training because that’s the stuff we don’t learn in school. The focus in schools is on technical skill.  

There is a disconnect between hiring managers’ expectations and millennials’ priorities. Hiring managers prioritize communication skills and analytical skills, whilst millennials say those skills are their lowest priority. Why is this?

RG: I think it’s important to consider what kind of communications skills they want? What does that actually mean? An employer could evaluate these skills by making the interview more of a conversation rather than a traditional interview. 

Employees need to remember that we’re new to the workforce and we need mentors and leadership training because that’s the stuff we don’t learn in schoolCiera Lovitt

Why do millennials have less certifications? (The workforce study shows that 21% of millennials have no security certifications, compared to 6% boomers and 9% Gen X)

RG: Millennials see certifications as less of a priority compared to getting hands-on experience

MM: Millennials are having to personally pay for security certifications, which historically was less often the case. This may be a reason for the lower percentages; companies are not providing the funding.

CL: Certifications are not less relevant. Everybody in the industry understands the importance of certification. It’s outside of the industry where the problem lies. Are hiring managers demanding certification? Or is it optional? Certification needs to be a hiring requirement otherwise people won’t spend their own money on getting it.

Millennials value diversity in roles more than the generations before them – 46% of millennials say role diversity is very important compared to 31% boomers and 33% Gen X.  Why is this?

CL: I don’t want to be bored and I want to expand my skillset. I want to provide value and feel valuable and valued.

RG: It’s a generation thing…We are very curious about learning in general.

Are millennials hesitant to go into management roles?

CL: It’s about time and money. How long will it take me to make X amount of dollars. Whatever the fastest route to success is, I’m taking it. If that’s consultancy, then that’s what I’ll do.

MM: Millennials want their own hours, they want to be their own boss, they want to be respected. That lends itself to consultancy.

CG: Millennials like a flat structure – we want to be friends with everyone, including our boss. 

CL: Someone has to lead the next generation, so management roles are just as important these days. Those skills do still need to be focused on.

RG: Organizations should adapt and evolve to let millennials lead in their own way – with their own vision and with their own style.

Regardless of job satisfaction, millennials are leaving their jobs voluntarily at the same rate. In 2016, 28% of millennials dissatisfied with their jobs left their organizations, compared to 29% of millennials satisfied with their roles. Why is this?

MM: Job market is so saturated with jobs, not people. You can find your same job somewhere else really easily.

RG: We can’t afford to settle down so we are constantly on the move.

You should never let any junior leave their job because they are boredMichael McIntyre

How do organizations retain their millennial staff?

MM: Invest in them, give them a professional plan and professional path. Millennials always want a fast track, so keep that in mind too.

CL: Be my friend, pay me well, mentor me, expand my skillset, and let’s have fun doing it.

RG: It’s more about job opportunities and less about pay. For me, it’s about professional development and personal development. I also want fluidity in my team.

MM: You should never let any junior leave their job because they are bored. Find that one thing that keeps them excited and incorporate it in their job.

How are millennials selecting which certifications to get in order to become a master of a particular skill/trade?

RG: I always want to be involved in every area. So I get the certifications that interest me – not necessarily what is up and coming.

CG: Certification won’t get you where you want to be, only experience will. DevOps are replacing network engineers, for examples. Parts of the industry are becoming obsolete. So devoting all my time to one area may put me out of a job.

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