CISO Diaries

7 min read

A blueprint for onboarding new cybersecurity professionals

An efficient onboarding process gets cyber talent up to speed quickly, retains employees, and increases your security posture.

Mags22 avatar

Feb 22

Recruiting doesn’t end after a candidate accepts an offer, it simply moves into the next crucial stage: onboarding. An efficient onboarding process is necessary to retain top-quality talent, especially in an industry that severely lacks employees with experience. 

The famous saying: “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” certainly rings true here. You want to set your new cyber team up for success, and an efficient onboarding process is the secret.

Why is onboarding important in cybersecurity?

Organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82%, so there’s a lot to be said about taking the time to get it right.

In the cybersecurity industry, there’s little time to waste when it comes to getting new hires up to speed. Existing teams are already spread thin, with burnout rife. 83% of cybersecurity professionals admit that they or someone in their team have made errors that have led to a breach due to burnout. 

An efficient onboarding program results in improved employee engagement, boosted retention rates, reduced chances of burnout, and less strain on senior employees.

CISOs can become advocates for solid onboarding programs, working closely with their HR team to effectively implement one. 

Cybersecurity onboarding best practices

blueprint for onboarding cyber teams

Onboarding is a broad, long-term process that should take place over months. If your onboarding process is quick, this flags that it isn’t in-depth enough. 

Starting with HR, onboarding should reflect your company culture, vision, mission, and values. It should also include an introduction to the entire company structure and benefits. 

Moving to a micro level, this is where managers take over and share specific information about the cybersecurity role, which we dive into below:

A working knowledge of cybersecurity tools and technologies is a critical first step in onboarding.

One of the first stages of the onboarding process should be to provide an inventory of IT products and services in use. However, it’s vital to go one layer deeper and provide insights into the role of IT in an organization and how the cybersecurity team contributes to its success.

cybersecurity onboarding checklist

Every cybersecurity team will have a strategy and processes to ensure they succeed in their roles. It’s key that new hires become quickly familiar with these:

  • Objectives: what’s a realistic security posture, and how is success or failure measured? This includes the roles and responsibilities of different team members.

  • Risk factors: based on your organization’s unique structure and risk tolerance, new hires must be aware of the biggest risks to existing infrastructure. 

  • Threats: even if not pertinent to an individual’s role, all cybersecurity team members should know where and how to access threat intelligence. 

  • Compliance: depending on your industry, your cybersecurity team will adhere to different compliance regulations. All new hires should know what these are. 

One key benefit of new hires is their unique perspective on existing processes. With fresh eyes come new ideas and ways of thinking. 

You should welcome any feedback on your current security strategy as it offers an opportunity to improve processes for future new hires. Consider making feedback a part of your onboarding process with surveys and regular catch-ups.

A common aspect of any onboarding process is meeting the wider team and setting up inductions. New cybersecurity hires should meet the team and learn about their roles and how they might work together. 

This is an excellent opportunity to set up some unique training exercises, such as purple teaming, to help integrate new hires with members of the team they may not always work with.

Some general best practices for onboarding new team members include:

  • Security processes such as checklists and general procedures. 

  • Incident response and event management documentation to help new hires understand their role in the event of a breach.

  • The roles and responsibilities of third-party technology. 

Before developing an in-depth onboarding upskilling program, it’s important to assess and measure the strengths and weaknesses of new hires. 

Easi, a Hack The Box client, used our Professional Labs to assess the skills of new hires, refine the onboarding process, and plan the development of new employees.

Being able to invite new starters is a great feature. It allows us to more accurately measure a new hire's knowledge and how to build upon it. 


Mickey De Beats, Red Team CyberSecurity Consultant, Easi.

Read more about Easi’s experience using HTB to assess and onboard new hires here.

By measuring skills early on, you’re able to provide new hires with a valuable onboarding experience that quickly gets them up to speed. Offering the ability to upskill right away is more likely to retain and develop talented cybersecurity professionals.


After assessing the skills of new hires, the next step is to create a tailored training program centered around their particular job role. 

Traditionally, cybersecurity training lacks personalization and relevance to industry job roles and trends, such as the latest CVEs. 

Industry frameworks to map skills include:




  • The DoD Cyber Workforce Framework (DCWF).

At Hack The Box, managers can use the Enterprise Platform to easily search courses using terminology from these frameworks and assign them based on the techniques and tactics relevant to their teams.