Your guide to landing a job in cybersecurity

2018-06-08 | BY Proven Recruiting's Editorial Team | IN Job Seekers

Your guide to landing a job in cybersecurity

Tired of hearing news of the latest cyber attack? It seems a day doesn’t go by that some company comes under fire for their lax cyber protocols. But what if there was a way you could profit from these unfortunate headlines?

In the first 6 months of 2017, an astonishing 2 billion records were lost or stolen; that’s a 164% increase over the six months prior. Equifax, Verifone, Whole Foods, Deloitte – even the DNC – were each hacked in the past two years.

So what does this all mean? Opportunity. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that, given the rise in cyber attacks, the demand for trained professionals will outpace supply by 265,000 jobs by the year 2022. That means employers will be willing to compromise on credentials and experience; so long as you have a strong tech background and a willingness to learn, the opportunities are virtually endless.

Here’s everything you need to know to land your next job in cybersecurity, regardless of seniority or experience:

Want to impress employers? Here’s what they’re looking for.

1. Preferably, you should have a background in tech.

This is not 100% necessary, but if you’re not coming from tech, you’ll need to put in some extra work. Start reading up on IT basics and become the go-to technology person at your work. If your current job already has an IT specialist, sit down with them for coffee, shadow them – whatever you need to do to gain a better understanding of your work’s digital systems. A natural passion for learning and technology will get you far, especially if it’s supported by trainings and online resources.

High demand and low supply of cybersecurity professionals is making on-the-job training a necessity. Assuming you come in with a positive attitude, a growth mindset, and a strong understanding of the fundamentals of the field, most companies will happily provide on-the-job trainings and learning resources.

2. Tech background or not, you’ll need a basic knowledge of cybersecurity.

A lack of substantial experience is no excuse for skimping on research. Whether or not you know how to engineer a system from the ground-up, you’ll need to know the industry lingo and general concepts before heading into an interview. According to WSJ, hopeful candidates should develop a working knowledge of computer networks, programming, and critical thinking to start. Check out this nifty resource for career training information sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security.

Ideally, you’ve read up on the industry and taken some online courses to bolster your knowledge. You’ve experimented in your home lab and have had some successes that you can draw on in an interview.

The key is not in presenting yourself as an expert – unless, of course, you are one – but in showcasing a commitment to learning and a strong understanding of the framework within which you’ll be functioning.

3. You can win employers over with certifications.

What’s the best way to validate proficiency? Come in with some certifications under your belt. The best place to get started is with a Security+ Certification. The Computing Technology Industry Association also has three different information-security certificate programs that are highly-regarded by hiring managers and recruiters.

For a more advanced certification, try the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) to enhance your knowledge and increase your chances of landing a job. And if you’re really committed, consider enrolling in Harvard’s 8-week online course, which covers everything from risk identification, to containment and prevention, to legal responses and repercussions.

Don’t have the time or money to enroll in one of these programs now? Apply to the job regardless, and express your desire to enroll to your interviewer. They’ll be impressed by your commitment, research, and willingness to develop your skills. If you are hired, they’ll likely cover certificate or course expenses.

4. Always stay hungry.

Employers want to see a hunger to learn, an eagerness to innovate, and a passion for technology.

To test your interest and commitment, interviewers will often ask questions about self study. Degrees and certifications are great, but the most frequent interview questions tend to hone in on how you are experimenting and exploring cybersecurity on your own time.

Sean Tierney, the head of cybersecurity at Infoblox, says you should expect questions along the lines of “tell me about your home lab, what kind of systems you’re running, and work you’re doing? What have you learned?” Answer these questions right, and you’ll not only impress your interviewer – you’ll confirm your knowledge and validate your skills.

Remember: It’s not just what you know…

…It’s who you know.

Cybersecurity being a relatively new field – and one in which demand so outpaces supply – experience and aptitude often take a backseat to personality, drive, and connections. Never forget: 70% of jobs are found through personal relationships.

Try researching Security Engineers, Penetration Experts, and Heads of Cybersecurity at the companies that interest you. Track down these peoples’ LinkedIn profiles and consider their work history – did they follow a traditional career path, or are they piecing together varied experiences? Reach out and ask them if they’d be up for chatting over coffee.

I know – you’re probably cringing at the prospect of cold messaging someone who could eventually become your boss. Lucky for you, Proven Recruiting has two comprehensive networking guides to make your life a little easier. Check out ‘How Networking Will Change Your Life’ and the ‘Definitive Guide to Networking’ to get started. And if you’re still struggling, we’ve put together a list of easy conversation starters for beginners.

As recruiters, we spend much of our time cultivating and nurturing a robust and dependable professional network. Just by knowing us, you’re already expanding your network 100x. Reach out and we’ll connect you with the opportunities you’re looking for.

It’s time to apply – but where?

First, know that you’ve come to the right place. Our dedicated Technology team makes it their business to know which companies are expanding, what kind of jobs they’re looking to hire for, and which candidates will best fit the bill.

Instead of fiddling with online applications and no-response emails, work with us to set up meetings with companies that are actually looking to hire someone with your unique mixture of skills and personality. We’ll speak with you, learn about your work history, interests, and strengths, and match you with a job that you can be excited about every day.

Still want to go at it on your own? We’ve put together a handy list of the top 10 San Diego companies hiring early career tech professionals right now, plus some market insights on the SD market. Click for info: 10 SD companies hiring now.

Considering that on average, companies suffer 130 data breaches a year, it won’t be long before cybersecurity becomes an integral part of every business worldwide. There’s no doubt – it’s a high growth industry and salaries are keeping pace; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “cybersecurity professionals report an average salary of $116,000, or approximately $55.77 per hour.”

Gain the skills and experience you need now to guarantee yourself a lucrative and long lasting career. Shoot us an email at to get started.


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