Soft skills are becoming increasingly valuable in cybersecurity jobs, along with education from skills-based tech bootcamps and industry certifications. In fact, many cybersecurity professionals have started their careers in non-IT fields—teaching, communications, marketing, the military, and more. These individuals were able to leverage transferable and soft skills from their unique backgrounds into cybersecurity roles.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are personal attributes that enable a person to interact effectively and harmoniously with others. These transferable skills help individuals communicate, manage conflicts, and thrive in a variety of situations. In contrast to technical, job-specific skills, soft skills are transferable and can apply to nearly any profession.
This rings especially true for cybersecurity roles. According to ISACA’s State of Cybersecurity report, 54 percent of surveyed security professionals identified soft skills—including communication and problem-solving—as the biggest skills gaps among today’s cyber workforce.
Read on to learn how you can bridge the gap between a non-technical background and a cybersecurity role using soft skills.
The Value of Soft Skills in Cybersecurity Jobs
Beyond the technical requirements for cybersecurity roles, employers are also vetting candidates based on non-technical skills. Why are soft skills so important in cybersecurity? Individuals who struggle to stay calm under pressure, pay close attention to details, or communicate effectively are unlikely to succeed in this dynamic field—even if they have all the right technical skills.
Cybersecurity proficiency goes far beyond technical prowess. From calmly leading teams through crises to explaining security protocol to nontechnical audiences, soft skills are utilized regularly in these roles. Due to this, transferable skills can carry a significant weight in candidate evaluation for cyber jobs.
Two applicants may look the same on paper, but if one articulates an ability to solve problems, shares examples of strong leadership, and demonstrates a commitment to ongoing learning, they are more likely to receive an offer.
10 Soft Skills You Need to Succeed in Cybersecurity
Developing key transferable skills and highlighting them during the job search process can help you not only get your first job in cybersecurity but also aid your long-term success in the field. Here are 10 of the most valuable soft skills that can help you land a cybersecurity job:
Are you a lifelong learner eager to research new topics? Curiosity can give you an edge as a cybersecurity practitioner. It elevates the accuracy, thoroughness, and efficiency of security investigations. A curious, research-oriented mindset also helps individuals stay abreast of the newest security technology available for their organization, along with the latest cybercrime trends and potential vulnerabilities.
An attitude of resilience and tenacity is crucial when it comes to troubleshooting and testing—core components of most cybersecurity jobs. There's often no set answer or procedure for issues that arise. Problem-solving acumen and a positive mindset toward overcoming challenges can set you apart as a cyber professional.
3. Problem Solving
Beyond having tenacity in the face of challenges, the ability to use logical reasoning to methodically find solutions is a very valuable skill in the field. Cybersecurity analysts must apply problem-solving skills to resolve issues with organizations’ computer systems and build innovative approaches to prevent vulnerabilities.
Even when hiring for entry-level roles, employers are looking for individuals with leadership potential who can grow into managerial positions. Cybersecurity managers and CISOs are responsible for overseeing an organization’s network and managing teams to ensure security and compliance across the entire information-security infrastructure.
5. Communication: Verbal and Written
Cyber professionals must sift through high volumes of technical documentation. It’s up to them to identify the key information and then communicate risk and mitigation techniques in simple, understandable terms to the organization at large. Strong written communication skills are valuable for thoroughly documenting incidents, while verbal communication is critical for gaining organization-wide security buy-in.
6. Attention to Detail
Paying close attention to detail is key. Cyber professionals implement methodical approaches with step-by-step processes for countering attacks. Organizations are looking for meticulous individuals who will never cut corners, leaving gaps and vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity analysts must also be able to notice small anomalies in large data logs and subtle performance decreases in computer systems to detect malware.
Professional integrity is fundamental to the industry. Information security teams are the gatekeepers of an organization and must establish trust across all teams. Companies look for open and honest individuals who have a strong sense of ethics and are passionate advocates for public safety and the common good. In particular, if you are an ethical hacker, you’ll need to think like a criminal while maintaining integrity.
Creativity can help you outsmart cybercriminals and identify possible threats before they occur, potentially avoiding major financial losses and data breaches. Plus, as the industry rapidly evolves, coming up with out-of-the-box solutions to new challenges will place you ahead of the curve. This is particularly beneficial for offensive tactics that exploit system weaknesses, like penetration testing.
Adaptability—being able to quickly learn and then apply new skills to the job—is a highly valuable soft skill. Even after learning the latest technical skills in a cyber bootcamp, you’ll need to continue acquiring new skills as the tech landscape changes. Working in a fast-paced industry where new threats emerge constantly, cybersecurity professionals need to be flexible and responsive to keep up.
10. Composure Under Pressure
The ability to remain calm in the eye of the storm and lead with composure during a high-pressure situation is invaluable. In incident response, you must quickly determine the most effective way to respond to a cyberattack without jeopardizing the organization and its data. Former security or military professionals are often well-trained in this soft skill, making them strong candidates for cybersecurity jobs.
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Showcasing Soft Skills in the Cybersecurity Job Search
Demonstrating these soft skills can set you apart in a job search and in the field. Reflect on your personal and professional background and identify your most distinct soft skills. From there, you can begin leveraging them to land a cybersecurity job.
Use the following three tactics to showcase your soft skills in the cybersecurity job search process:
Add Non-Technical Skills to Your Technical Resume
Your cybersecurity resume should be tailored to the industry and include specific technical skills and knowledge. However, you can include your transferable skills in the summary and experience sections of your resume.
Look at job descriptions for cybersecurity roles and see if they list non-technical skills, such as “attention to detail” or “problem-solving ability.” Mirror the terms that apply to you as keywords in your resume and cover letter. This will increase your chances of passing through ATS systems and catching the attention of hiring managers.
Share Real-Life Examples In Interviews
While a certification can validate your ability to perform technical tasks, soft skills are less tangible. An interview is an opportunity to demonstrate your soft skills by sharing personal anecdotes about how you have developed and utilized them. These memorable personal stories can help highlight your unique strengths and offer a more well-rounded view of your professional potential.
Gain Professional Endorsements
Seal the deal with social proof. Utilize your LinkedIn profile to request skills endorsements from your colleagues. Prospective employers can see these skills with validation from others in your network to establish further credibility. Once you’ve reached the final phase of the hiring process, you can also encourage your professional references to share details about your soft skills when contacted by the employer.
Ready to get started?
Continue developing your transferable skills while gaining technical skills and earning certifications in the University of New Mexico Continuing Education Cybersecurity Bootcamp. As a student, you’ll receive hands-on practice through labs, projects, and collaboration with peers. Career changers who pair these job-ready skills with non-technical skills can bring a valuable and unique skillset to potential employers.
Don't wait—start your career journey today by applying to our upcoming cybersecurity cohort!