Workforce

A virtual community of cyber talent

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Of the many ongoing initiatives to build a more cyber-savvy federal workforce, project leaders at the U.S. Cyber Challenge and Monster Government Solutions think they have something different in an online portal for trainees to network and display their credentials.

The virtual community, known as CyberCompEx, keeps users apprised of cyber skills competitions and offers advice on landing jobs in the field. Site registrants set up a profile, which is aligned with skills sought by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education. The profile highlights credits earned in competitions and, further down the road, employers will be able to search the site for candidates based on different skillsets.

The program, which is partially funded by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, is still nascent. Organizers are aiming to have 1,000 online registrants by year’s end. They envision the virtual community as a trusted place “for qualified employers and partners and those that want to engage with these job-seekers, to be able to see their profile [and] learn more about them,” said Susan Fallon, vice president of business development at Monster Government Solutions.

“It’s more than just helping someone get a job,” Fallon added. “We’re talking about cultivating a pipeline of talent [for] this cyber workforce of the future.”

CyberCompEx is backed by the U.S. Cyber Challenge, a broader initiative to recruit 10,000 Americans as cybersecurity professionals. Karen Evans, the program’s national director and a former Office of Management and Budget official, said online users are attracted to the customized nature of CyberCompEx, making them willing to share information in the portal that they might not share elsewhere.

The online portal is closely linked with U.S. Cyber Challenge’s “cyber camps,” which offer a week of training that ends with a capture-the-flag contest. Those who perform well in camp can qualify to be teaching assistants there. It’s all part of an effort to build a fertile community of cyber talent.

“On paper, you can say on a résumé, well sure, I have all of these hard skills and certs and training, but the beauty of this profile … is that you can really build that out and you can see examples of where they’ve put these talents and capabilities and competencies into action,” Fallon said.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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