Henry Dalziel | Information Security Careers | June 30, 2015
Getting a job in Cyber Security is easier than you think.
The fact that you are reading this means that you are already mentally there. You’ve taken a leap forward and you’ve told yourself that a career in IT Security is for you. Good! Now, all you have to do is make it happen…so, let’s do it!
You might be short of advice and experience – which are two keys elements we hope to address in this post with a bunch of tips that we will be suggesting. (If you can think of any others as you read through this post please drop a comment below at the bottom of the page).
Sure – as always, experience is vital, but in this post we will outline several multiple ways to help you to find jobs in cyber security. We hope that the following tips and advice help you find entry level cyber security jobs: that’s the main focus of this post, however, before we dive into the content, full credit goes out to Lenny Zeltser, a digital forensics and malware cyber pro at SANS Institute. We slightly tweaked and added our own comments to Zenny’s excellent resource as a result of our own experiences having trained over 2K Cyber Professionals in the UK and the US.
We’d really appreciate any comments you might have – so please drop them in at the bottom of this post!
In the SAS, the UK’s version of the Navy Seals, there is a saying:
“Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.”
Clearly, planning is vital – but it needs to be stated and yelled from the roof-tops! So, the main point here is to think like a Navy Seal and plan, plan and plan again – and stick to the plan! Here are some key points about planning for an entry-level route into IT Security employment.
- Make sure that you understand what type of security IT jobs you want to pursue are in the short term and as part of your long-term career.
- Determine what skills and experience requirements the jobs you desire have and take note of what you lack.
Begin executing the plan to obtain the relevant education, training and certifications.
- Obtain the cyber skills and experience through personal and work projects. Balance depth with breadth.
Master popular hacking/ pentesting digital forensics tools, such as nmap, john the ripper, metasploit and burp suite.
- Build an online persona that’s both appropriate for you and desirable by potential employers, for example by blogging! At the very least tidy up your digital footprint – not least your LinkedIn Profile.
Craft several “elevator pitches” to explain who you are and what type of jobs you might be interested in.
Second on our list is the importance of “Social Networking as Part of Your Career in IT”.
Politicians might say: “It’s all about the economy stupid!” but the IT Security World, just like any other industry out there is based upon networking, credibility and relationships, so start networking, today!
- Build professional relationships with people within cybersecurity before you start asking for the availability of entry level cyber security jobs.
- Consider how you might help others along their career path and offer assistance when appropriate.
Ask for advice, feedback and guidance of the professionals whom you respect. Very often the best place to find such people are speakers from Cybersecurity Conferences. (Here’s our list for Cybersecurity Conferences in 2017).
Seek informational interviews” when learning about a potential company or a job you might pursue later.
- To seek a list of Don’t take for granted the career advice and help offered by people in your professional network.
- Make sure you update members of your own community to your career changes.
Third on our list is being able to “Find the Cyber Security IT Position Worth Pursuing!”
Discover your cybersecurity/ IT passion, then work out how to get there.
By mastering certain cyber skills you’ll discover what it is that you want to do and once you know that then you’ll excel at it and become the ‘go-to’ person for a particular technology for example. Here are some key points:
- Understand what characteristics make you stand out from your competition. What makes you an expert? Think about the various niches within Cybersecurity and focus in on an area: digital forensics is an example.
Look for job postings on companies’ websites and on dedicated job-listing websites. (That’s a given, but where do you start?) We’d recommend our 41 Cybersecurity Internship Opportunities Blog Post!
- Find a good recruiter appropriate for your industry and make sure he or she understands you and your particular (hopefully unique) experience.
- Allow potential employers to find you, even if you aren’t looking for your job.
- Consider whether you’ll need to move to the locations that have the job openings you seek. If you came to this post as a young job seeker seeking an entry-level cybersecurity job then make sure you mention your willingness to travel since your older contemporaries will be tied up with mortgages and kids!
- Explore multiple single social circles when looking a job: friends, former colleagues, college friends, etc. Again, as we previously outlined, it’s all about networking!
- Participate in events attended by the people within the industries or companies where you want to work.
- Network within the companies you want to join to find positions that might not be officially advertised. Seek the HR folk!
- Consider whether you’ll accept a less attractive job to break into cybersecurity or company (vendor) you desire.
- Find a way to contact the hiring manager directly, in addition to applying trough the official channel. LinkedIn is your friend with this regard.
Fourth on the list is: “Crafting And Polishing Your Resume”.
Kinda obvious, but your CV has to shine. Here are some recommended ways to make that happen:
Review resumes of similarly-skilled people to understand your job options and competition. A simple Google Dork search will pull out a bunch of CV’s for you to take a look at.
- Understand the job requirements of the position beyond what’s in the official description.
- Customize and constantly tweak your resume to match the specific requirements of the cyber role you are interested with.
- Make sure that every bullet point in your resume answers the question “So What?“
- Don’t rely on your resume as the primary way of getting the job for which you’re applying.
- Be truthful and brief in your resume’s text.
- Describe both technical as well as “soft” skills (communications, sales. etc.) in the resume.
Fifth on the list is being able to “Handle the Interview For an IT Job”.
Good interviewing is vital. Here are some suggestions to improve and nail the interview:
- Research the organization and the position you’re pursuing. How are they different from the competition?
- Research the people who will interview you, so you can better engage them during the conversation.
- Find out the dress-code for the interview. When in doubt, it’s usually safer to over-dress.
- Ask your interviewing questions beyond those for which answers can easily be found online.
- Treat the interview as a conversation.
- Remember that people always will remember you for the way you made them feel rather than for what you specifically said. In this example, make them feel confident in your skills and confidence.
- Try to get to know the culture of the company where you might end up working as part of the discussion.
Send a thank-you note after the interview, referring to the specific items discussed in the interview.
Sixth on our list is being able to “Negotiate the Best Compensation Package”. OK, so you got are shortlisted for the job: awesome…but now you’ve got to ensure your remuneration is the best that it can be. Here are some way to ensure that:
- Understand what salary you can expect by looking at survey findings, job postings, peer discussions, etc.
- Be prepared to answer the potential employer’s questions about your current compensation.
- Consider all aspects of the compensation package, including salary, bonus, benefits, training, perks, etc.
- Understand which aspects of the compensation package the employer can actually negotiate.
Understand your alternatives to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) to know when to say “no.”
- Stay engaged with the hiring manager throughout the negotiations process, which might span weeks.
- Remember to show that you’re excited about the new job and that you also value your self-worth.
- Research and practices influence techniques that might add to your negotiating power of confidence.
Seventh on our list are some parting thoughts on how to seek “Entry Level Cyber Security Jobs”. So, here’s a round up and some resource to help you on your way!
We will be adding to this page and resources, especially the last section regarding “Tips and Further Resources” so if you’d like, please chime in and drop a resource or comment below.
We hope you enjoyed this post and sincerely wish you every success in your job search. Please keep us informed to how your career progresses and Good Luck!