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by Mark Aiello, President, CyberSN
Hey Cybersecurity Professional. We’ve got something to share with you. With an estimated 500,000 open cybersecurity jobs, you would expect to be able to find the job of your dreams. You can, although it’s not as easy as you think. You are in demand but you still need to tread carefully. If you want to be in control and Pwn Your Career, take our advice on some of the pitfalls along the way so you end up with a job that you love.
You owe it to yourself to love where you work and love what you do. You don’t need to follow Johnny Paycheck’s advice about what to do with your current job. Just make a commitment to yourself that you can be happy and love where you work. There are millions of people who love what they do and where they work. You can be one of them. Avoid complacency by answering these questions: What’s my passion? What drives me? What type of culture and team do I want to be a part of? What type of work will excite me every day? Then take the next step and make a commitment to yourself to begin the job search.
Today’s job boards are completely inefficient and mostly ineffective. Job descriptions are generally misleading, inaccurate, and poorly written. You’ll receive 20 bad search results for every one that looks promising. Don’t put your trust in secret algorithms that only return what they think you want. Search for companies that appear to be a good fit for you and proactively reach out to their security leaders. Don’t rely on just one method of finding a job. Take control of your career by actively seeking out opportunities that are interesting to you.
Don’t solely rely on job ads. Haven’t you heard about the secret menu items at In-N-Out Burger? Same is true for jobs. There are a lot more job openings than what you can find in a Google search. Look for companies that are growing, just received funding, or in the news (sometimes because of a breach). Many high-growth companies are moving faster than their talent acquisition team can keep up. Connect with their security leaders and let them know you are interested should they find themselves in need of someone with your particular set of skills. Join local security organizations and network with the people you meet. Develop a relationship with a recruiting firm that specializes in cybersecurity and can make you aware of opportunities before they become posted job ads.
So you skipped numbers 2 and 3 above and you found a job that looks promising. Except for one minor detail – you don’t have all the skills that are listed as required. Don’t let it stop you. Apply anyway. Most job descriptions are an amalgam of previous job descriptions. Nobody likes to write job descriptions and most people do a poor job when they do. Many times it is a group effort with everyone adding their specific requirements. Chances are unicorn-ishly slim that there is a perfect candidate for the role. So take a shot and present yourself as a candidate.
Applying for a job can be like running an obstacle course. Some companies throw too many challenges at cybersecurity candidates which can be a turn-off. Multiple interviews (video and in-person), proficiency and personality tests, challenges, and just taking their sweet time. Don’t be fooled to think that you shouldn’t have to follow their process because you are in such demand. Play the game and be prepared. Ask prospective employers about their process. Prepare yourself for it and the new interview experiences that you might encounter. Ask with whom you will be interviewing and do some homework. Chart the uncharted territory and when you get hired, if you want, you can change it from the inside.
Take control of your career. Find and do work that feeds your passion, grows your rewards and satisfaction, and meets your career and personal goals. Educate yourself on career paths, job types, and compensation and industry data. Find jobs that are interesting to you and that you are qualified for and engage the right opportunities at the time you see fit. Empower yourself to let your talent, skills and desires lead the way to your best career and reap the rewards of your profession. Know your worth. Find your fit. Plan your path. Pwn Your Career.
This article first appeared in Cyber Security Magazine - October 21, 2021