New Tool Can Help Agencies Assess Cyber Skills

Tool is designed to help with training as well as recruitment.

A new tool released Wednesday can help organizations like federal agencies to better recruit cybersecurity talent and assess the skills of current cyber staff.  

The new CyberTalent Assessment Tool, developed by the SANS Institute, helps recruiters and HR professionals have a better understanding of cyber job candidates, particularly in verifying their technical knowledge and comparing that knowledge against other applicants. It also can help HR professionals evaluate current cybersecurity staff to identify training needs or career development planning.

“This is a very challenging space for the information security sector, as everyone knows about the lack of professionals in the industry,” said Tom Carver, director of SANS CyberTalent, on Tuesday. “We’ve become aware of how critical this is now getting, and we realized quickly that we are in a unique position to help organizations assess job applicants and their existing staff.”

The tool, which uses questions from the Global Information Assurance Certification exam, provides benchmarks across several cybersecurity areas, like communications security, Internet security, networking concepts and operating systems security. SANS has certified more than 50,000 workers under the GIAC exam, Carver said. “The tool assesses real-life practical skills, not theoretical knowledge that you could learn from a manual,” he said.

The Web-based tool allows organizations to send assessment links directly to candidates. Once completed, the results are sent immediately back to the hiring or recruiting manager, who can review the results and compare them to other candidates either online, in a PDF or in Excel. The tool can also be customized based on an organization’s specific needs, Carver said.

The tool also helps information security managers plan training for employees, a key component in employee retention, Carver said. “Organizations need to find a way to keep their stars, and it isn’t just about increasing an individual’s pay,” he said. “This will hopefully show the employee that they are valued and that they have a career development plan, which will mean that they’re much more likely to stay within the organization.”