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Imagine this scenario: you’ve got the new IT guy, Harry, in your office. He’s a database wizard, understands bits and bytes like it’s no one’s business, and has more experience with infrastructure than should be legally allowed. Wow, a true technical powerhouse.


He’s very temperamental, can’t document his work products, cares little for personal hygiene, and isn’t fond of interacting with others.

Maybe our proverbial IT wizard could use a little help with his soft skills… This post could be a tremendous help for Harry - and for you, too!

What are Soft Skills?

According to Coursera, “soft skills are the attributes and behaviors that describe how a person approaches their tasks.” They elaborate later in the article that “hard skills describe what you do while soft skills describe how you do it.” (emphasis added)

Let’s take Harry for instance. What are some of his hard skills?

  • He’s apparently very proficient in working with databases. This could include understanding a variety of DBMSs, writing SQL fluently, knowing how to design and optimize databases, and possessing skill in planning for security, capacity, and scalability.

  • He’s got a high degree of technical understanding related to “bits and bytes” per the above description. For this scenario, we’ll relate this to a deep understanding of networking - including switching, routing, architecting network designs, and implementing firewalls and other security-related devices.

  • Finally, Harry really understands infrastructure. Not only can he work with databases and ensure all corporate networks are correctly configured, but he also understands the physical servers, racks, structured cabling, and wireless devices necessary to keep the company’s IT systems operating at peak performance.

Imagine that the hiring manager only knows about these qualities. It would be a no-brainer to hire Harry immediately! He’s very technically proficient in an array of disciplines.

But his soft skills could use some work…

What’s Harry lacking in the soft skills department?

  • He’s temperamental. If something goes wrong or someone looks at him the wrong way, he’s likely to get upset or act unpredictably. This does not put his coworkers or management at ease. He may be difficult to be around.

  • He can’t document his work. So yes, it’s important that he possesses a vast trove of technical skills; however, he can’t relate any of this to his coworkers, so they are often lost and unable to contribute in his areas of responsibility.

  • He doesn’t care about his personal hygiene. This can make his coworkers uncomfortable and doesn’t show off his company well in front of customers.

  • He doesn’t like interacting with others. It’s important to understand job requirements, but any employee is going to spend quite a bit of time around their fellow employees - it’s in Harry’s benefit to at least be slightly kind and sociable with his peers.

Let’s take a look at some of the most necessary soft skills for those in cybersecurity and then get back to helping Harry.

What are key soft skills?

Soft skills blog icon_Adaptability-1Adaptability - the ability to change or adjust to new situations or challenges.                                                                                                  

Soft skills blog icon_Interpersonal  Skills-1Interpersonal Skills - the ability to communicate well with others and get along on a personal level (i.e., not just “talking business” but also getting to know others)

Soft skills blog icon_Presentation skills-1Writing / Presentation Skills - the ability to convey information to others in a variety of mediums. Not only is information communicated, but it’s also tailored to the present audience so that they can understand and act upon it.

Soft skills blog icon_Business Acuman-1Business Acumen - every employee in the business can lead to success for the business; everyone can and should use their position shrewdly and effectively

Soft skills blog icon_problem solver-1Problem-Solver / Having a Research Mindset - diving into a problem requires the ability to focus, spend time diligently finding answers to problems, and then iterating on this process as new roadblocks present themselves

Soft skills blog icon_Leadership solver-1Team Leadership / Management - almost all employees will, at some point in their career, lead some sort of project or manage personnel. Businesses need employees who can persistently demonstrate their competence in guiding an effort to its end goal.

Why Does the Cybersecurity Professional Need Soft Skills?

According to Infosec Institute, “soft skills have been known to increase workplace productivity, job satisfaction, employee adaptability, and team dynamics.”

What’s the common factor here?

⇒ Humans

People aren’t just machines that crank out a task, punch a clock, and leave - only to return tomorrow and do it all over again. There are individual persons to consider, there are teams of people who must be regarded, there is a business composed of - you guessed it - humans who are all striving to achieve a common goal. And not only is the business itself composed of individuals, but the customers to whom the business is attempting to provide a good service is also comprised of - - - people.

Sorry, Harry, you just can’t get away from the fact that others are important and need to be regarded in the workplace!

Let’s get back to helping Harry - we want to see him succeed in his career!

  • Being temperamental drives other employees away - we need to help him engage with others and build healthy relationships.
  • Documenting work products is an essential key to allow others not only to help in a crunch period but also to allow for business continuity if Harry leaves the company or finds another internal position. Also, junior members of the team need to work alongside Harry to glean from his bank of knowledge.
  • Personal hygiene - this goes without saying. No one’s expecting Harry to spend an hour each day grooming himself, but a modest amount of time spent keeping clean can really make an employee shine (pardon the pun).
  • Even though Harry’s not fond of it, interacting with others is almost a requirement in a work setting. Harry may be shy, but most of the time fellow employees want to get to know the folks they work with every day. Harry might even enjoy good conversations with others once he gets to know them!

How Can the Cybersecurity Professional Cultivate Soft Skills?

In their “State of Cybersecurity 2022” report, ISACA notes that, among survey responses, soft skills are “the top skill gap identified” among cybersecurity professionals. It might be easy to study for that next certification - but how can someone bolster their soft skills?

There are a variety of resources available to help with just this issue. Let’s say, for instance, that you struggle with interpersonal skills. You’re a nice person, sure, but it’s difficult for you to interact with and relate to others. A quick search for “how to enhance interpersonal skills” can lead to a trove of resources that can help you gain confidence and proficiency in relating to others. For example, Coursera has a great article covering this topic - “What Are Interpersonal Skills? And How to Strengthen Them”. Mind Tools covers this topic in their article titled “Boost Your Interpersonal Skills”. Do some research - you’ll be amazed what’s out there!

In addition to articles, there are courses tailored for boosting soft skills. Infosec Institute has a learning path dedicated to soft skills development. EC-Council has a masterclass focused on communication skills. Finally, LinkedIn Learning has a course called “Soft Skills for Information Security Professionals” that may be just the ticket for you.

Harry isn’t hopeless in his cultivation of soft skills - with a little encouragement and some work on his part, he can continue to be a technical powerhouse and be a valuable member of his team and business.


In this post, we assessed the need for cybersecurity professionals to enhance their soft skills in addition to their technical (or “hard”) skills. Not only will soft skills lead to a more enjoyable work environment, but also employees will likely grow in their careers as a result of their increased acumen. We took a look at the proverbial “Harry” who excels in his hard skills but could really use some help with his soft skills. If you find yourself desiring to grow in your soft skills, please check out some of the links in the section below - there are some great resources that can get you started in your quest!

Thanks for reading - we hope to see you again soon!

Resources Worth Checking Out

Looking to increase or sharpen your soft skills? A few of the resources below may be of great benefit. Or feel free to peruse the links mentioned throughout the body of this post.

16 Soft Skills You Need to Succeed in Cyber Security | Flatiron School

Cybersecurity Skills: Soft & Hard Skills for Cybersecurity | NU

Why soft skills are just as important as technical skills in cybersecurity | Infosec (

Cybersecurity Skills: What do Employers Want to See | Maryville Online

Blog bySimSpace
SimSpace is the leading innovative cyber security platform for enabling risk reduction through operational quantification, testing and training. No other organization has SimSpace’s depth of experience in creating high fidelity cyber ranges with unique user and adversary emulation techniques.