Are Resumes Dead in Cybersecurity? Why Skills-Based Hiring Matters More Now

A blog on skills-based hiring and focusing cyber talent acquisition on practical abilities.
Written by
Stephanie Ogozaly
My role on this project
Writer, Content Marketer

"Bachelor's degree required."

Those three little words wield a lot of power when it comes to job postings. They are potent enough to exclude the candidacy of more than 66% of Black Americans, approximately 72% of Latino/Latina adults, 75% of Native Americans, and over 79% of rural Americans from all racial backgrounds.

The implications of shutting out such a significant portion of the population based on degree requirements extend far beyond the individual level. When organizations create barriers that disproportionately impact people from historically marginalized communities, they perpetuate systemic inequalities and impede efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. These exclusionary practices also block the cyber industry's ability to address the talent gap and effectively protect against sophisticated threats.

Cybersecurity Ventures predicts there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs through at least 2025, with more than 21% of those positions based in the U.S. Recruiters and talent acquisition teams may think of these gaps in terms of job requisitions, but malicious actors see something else: an opportunity to exploit a weakness. The stakes are too high to rely on outdated recruitment practices. Instead, the solution lies in skills-based hiring, an approach to talent acquisition that zeroes in on what matters most: a candidate's ability to excel in real-world situations and stay ahead of the ever-changing threat landscape.

What Is Skills-Based Hiring?

Picture this: Two candidates apply for a cybersecurity position. One boasts a prestigious degree and impressive resume, while the other possesses practical experience and a proven track record of success. Traditional hiring practices might favor the first candidate, but skills-based hiring recognizes that the latter may very well be the stronger choice.

Skills-based hiring is about finding candidates who possess the right blend of aptitude, attitude, and acumen to excel in today's fast-paced cybersecurity environment, regardless of their background or pedigree. It also breaks down barriers that might have previously hindered nontraditional candidates from entering the field. People are increasingly realizing that the most exceptional talent isn't always forged in the halls of academia or nurtured within the confines of a corporate ladder.

Why Skills-Based Hiring is Better


As cybersecurity continues to evolve, so should the methods we use to identify and nurture the best talent. Skills-based hiring offers a more holistic approach to recruiting that rejects the conventional benchmarks of success found on a resume in favor of a more nuanced and outcome-driven model.

Prioritizing practical, hands-on abilities over traditional qualifications allows businesses to revolutionize the way they approach talent acquisition and retention. With skills-based hiring, organizations can:

Discover hidden talent: Companies that focus on what candidates can actually do are more likely to find the cybersecurity experts they need to tackle emerging threats, including individuals who may have been overlooked with more conventional recruitment practices.

Increase efficiencies: Skills-based hiring streamlines the recruitment process by targeting specific skills and abilities, allowing organizations to eliminate the irrelevant criteria and resume overload that can often be present in traditional hiring methods.

Create a more diverse workforce: Organizations can tap into a richer talent pool and reduce the impact of unconscious biases in the recruitment process because skills-based hiring places the emphasis on objective, measurable competencies.

Improve retention and engagement: Matching candidates with roles that truly align with their abilities can lead to higher job satisfaction and increased employee retention. This reduces turnover costs and creates a more engaged and motivated workforce.

Skills-based hiring challenges long-held assumptions about what constitutes the ideal candidate and paves the way for a more agile, resilient, and inclusive workforce capable of tackling the complex cyber risks and threats of the 21st century.

How Do You Implement Skills-Based Hiring?

Transitioning to a skills-based hiring process may seem daunting, but by following the key steps below, organizations can effectively embrace this revolutionary approach and reap its myriad benefits.

Redefine job requirements: Shift the focus from traditional qualifications, such as degrees and years of experience, to the core skills and competencies necessary for success in a given role. This ensures candidates are evaluated based on relevant criteria and helps to remove barriers that may have previously limited nontraditional talent.

Revamp job postings: Craft job listings that emphasize the skills and abilities needed to excel in a position rather than relying on conventional markers of success like education or experience. This will attract a more diverse pool of applicants who possess the practical expertise required to meet the unique challenges of the cybersecurity sector.

Utilize technical assessments: Leverage cutting-edge platforms and tools, such as interactive puzzles, coding tests, cyber simulations, or even gamified assessments, to objectively measure candidates' skills in real-world scenarios. This data-driven approach helps to identify top talent and ensures that the hiring process remains impartial.

Train recruiters and hiring managers: Equip those responsible for talent acquisition with the knowledge and resources needed to champion skills-based hiring. Educating recruiters and hiring managers on the value of this approach ensures that the right mindset and practices are in place to support a successful transition.

Now is the time for organizations to embrace the skills-based hiring revolution and transform the way they build and nurture their cybersecurity teams.

The Enigma Approach to Skills-Based Hiring

The goal is simple: empower organizations to find the best talent by giving people a chance to show what they can do.

At the heart of Enigma lies a puzzle-based assessment methodology that engages candidates and reveals their true potential. Simulating real-world scenarios, these bite-sized interactive puzzles take less than 45 minutes to complete and provide valuable insights into a candidate's problem-solving abilities. Puzzles are administered through live sandboxes and comprehensive tools for an enhanced development experience. Candidates solve each puzzle and explain how they arrived at their answer through a short free-response explanation—and they have the freedom to demonstrate their skills using their preferred tools, regardless of the programming language. Enigma's team of experts grades each assessment and shares the results so you can easily advance top performers.

As organizations strive to transform their technical hiring processes and build exceptional teams, Enigma's puzzle-based assessments signal a seismic shift in hiring practices, revolutionizing the way candidates are identified and evaluated.

Looking to supercharge your cybersecurity hiring process? Enigma can help you identify top talent, diversify your teams, and cut interview time in half, all while eliminating the need for expensive technical interviews. Email us today to set up a demo and experience the power of skills-based hiring firsthand.