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Building a cybersecurity team: Hiring in a competitive market | Viewpoint


Organizations are vying for the same pool of talented professionals. It's important to find the right skills and the right attitude.

Anis Trabelsi is the chief information officer at Palomar Health.

Anis Trabelsi is the chief information officer at Palomar Health.

As the CIO of a healthcare system, I am acutely aware of the critical role that cybersecurity plays in safeguarding sensitive data.

In today's competitive market where organizations are vying for the same pool of talented professionals, hiring the right individuals with the appropriate skillset is crucial. However, I firmly believe that hiring for attitude is even more important.

In this article, we will explore strategies for building a strong cybersecurity team in this challenging market by emphasizing the importance of attitude, continuous learning and effective leadership.

Read more: Cybersecurity in health systems hampered by a lack of talent

Navigating the competitive market

In an environment where everyone is searching for the same skilled individuals, it becomes essential to explore alternative avenues for talent acquisition.

Collaborating with HR departments, partnering with recruiting companies, tapping into military bases, engaging retirees and connecting with schools can help broaden the pool of potential candidates. By diversifying our recruitment efforts, we increase our chances of finding individuals with the right attitude and aptitude for cybersecurity.

Emphasizing the right attitude

While technical skills are undoubtedly important, hiring for attitude is paramount. The right attitude encompasses a mindset that values training and a willingness to learn, as cybersecurity is a rapidly evolving field. By prioritizing candidates who demonstrate a hunger for continuous growth, we ensure that our team remains adaptable and capable of handling emerging threats.

Hiring as a relationship

Hiring is not just about skills and qualifications; it is about finding a mutual fit. Just as in a relationship, it is crucial to assess whether the candidate's attitude complements the existing team. Building a cohesive unit involves assembling individuals who bring diverse perspectives, strengths and values. This collaborative spirit fosters innovation and resilience in the face of cyber challenges.

Retaining and nurturing talent

When we come across exceptional talent, it is important to hold onto them, even if there isn't an immediate job opening. Good talent with the right attitude is difficult to come by. By bringing in talented individuals and providing them with training and growth opportunities, we invest in the long-term success of both the team and the organization. We should also consider giving newbies a chance, as experience isn't always a prerequisite for success. A fresh perspective can invigorate the team and bring new insights to the table.

Developing effective leadership

Building the right team also entails fostering effective leadership. As leaders, we must adopt an open-door policy and actively connect with our team members. Creating a culture of continuous learning and improvement involves teaching leaders to be better leaders themselves. Sharing knowledge and empowering team members through a "manage-up" approach, where everyone is encouraged to teach and learn from each other, cultivates a sense of ownership and drives professional growth within the team.

Fairness and inclusion

A strong team is built on fairness and inclusion. Every team member requires a different style of leadership, and it is important to provide equal opportunities for growth and development. Encouraging open communication, embracing feedback and treating every team member with respect and fairness fosters a positive work environment and strengthens the team member bond.


In the competitive realm of cybersecurity talent acquisition, hiring for attitude is vital for building a resilient team. By valuing the right mindset, prioritizing continuous learning and fostering effective leadership, we create an environment where talented professionals can thrive. Embracing alternative recruitment channels, such as HR departments, recruiting companies, military bases, retirees and schools, can expand our talent pool and increases the chances of finding individuals who possess the necessary skills and attitude required to excel in the ever-evolving field of cybersecurity.

By investing in the right attitude, we lay the foundation for a strong and cohesive team that can successfully navigate the challenges of the cybersecurity landscape and protect our organizations.

Anis Trabelsi is the chief information officer at Palomar Health.

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