Ways to Break into the Cyber Security Industry
By Lyan Ware Contributor
Let’s say, you’ve nailed your exams and got the certifications: check. You’ve created an impressive LinkedIn profile and are vetting prospective organizations: check. Now you’re looking at job listings, but they’re all saying that they require at least two or three years of experience. What now? Fear not! In this blog, we’ll discuss some tips on how to break into the cyber security job market without any prior experience.
Do not be intimidated by job postings that you feel you may not be qualified for. Think of job listings as a company’s wish list of their most ideal candidate. Just because you do not tick off every single box, does not mean that you will not qualify. If you’re not sure of what job listings you’ll have a better chance with, look into applying at start-up companies. Startups are great jumping off points, especially for those who have just graduated from a cyber/IT bootcamp.
Examine your resume as a whole. What kind of story is it telling? Think of the career narrative you want to present to recruiters and hiring managers. As you prepare your resume, make sure it’s answering these three important questions:
- “How have you made a company money?”
- “How have you saved a company money?”
- “How have you improved a process within the company’s structure?”
Always include quantitative data in your resume reflecting your positive impact in working for organizations. Numbers look really good. Numbers offer measurable credibility of your qualities as an excellent candidate. Highlight experiences that show passion and commitment to IT and security: volunteering opportunities, tech-related clubs, home projects, etc. A great way to standout as a candidate is to complete “capture-the-flag” events (ctftime.org is a great resource for this) on your own time. This will be helpful in flattering your passion for the industry, as well as accruing hands-on experience. There are modules and labs on websites like Hack-the-box which can help you accomplish this as well. Be sure to find a way to publish this work on a platform like YouTube, so that you can easily share it on your resume for recruiters and hiring managers to be able to access.
Aside from practicing for job interviews with mock interviews and researching possible questions, listen to IT and cyber security podcasts. Be up to date on the latest current events in the field, so that when you get picked up for an interview, you’ll be able to exude credibility and industry-related acumen. It will also give you some relevant topics to chit-chat about with interviewers that strengthens your career narrative. Darknet Diaries and The Cyberwire Daily are great cybersecurity podcasts.
Speaking of chit-chat, attending job fairs and tech events is an excellent way to network. Making connections for your LinkedIn, making friends with people who hold the types of jobs you’re looking for, may eventually lead to you getting your foot in the door with the cybersecurity industry.