This week we are discussing Resumes, Military Experience, Prior Experience, Transferable Skills, and Selling Yourself to break into cybersecurity.
This will be a high-level overview of all topics. Each one of these could be an article by itself, however I will give the most important information on each. I will probably go into more detail in future articles, but this gives you a good foundation to think about.
Your resume is important. In today’s world of networking, you still need a good-looking resume. On average, a hiring manager looks at a resume for only six to seven seconds. You want yours to stand out.
My number one piece of advice for resume writing?
TAILOR YOUR RESUME!
What does that mean? For each position you apply for, your resume needs to be tailored to that job description. Do not mass blast the same resume to hundreds of job openings. You may not even receive one interview by doing it that way. Many cyber job openings have hundreds if not thousands of applications, especially for entry-level cybersecurity positions. Look at the keywords and tools required in the job posting. Then craft every specific resume to show the employer how your experience, knowledge and skills can match the position they are trying to fill.
You should also have several people look at your resume to provide feedback. Even better, find one person who is great at writing resumes and let them pick apart your resume. It may be a painful process with numerous rewrites and edits, but in the end it will be worth it.
Your prior military experience is valuable to your employer. However, you need to convince them if they don’t already see it. During your time in the military, no matter what Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), you learned valuable leadership skills and other technical and soft skills that may benefit a company. However, it is YOUR job to sell those skills and explain why they are valuable to the hiring manager. It also needs to be in civilian language. Don’t use military jargon or acronyms. Speak like a civilian. Many online resources can help with that.
If you did not serve in the military, what other prior experience do you have? If you are a career changer, you may have no prior professional experience in the new field you are pursuing. However, what things did you do in your previous career that could translate as skills in your new field? Hiring managers want to know that you have the aptitude, skills and knowledge needed to be an asset to their organization. However, I personally know musicians, teachers, Soldiers, and retail workers who transitioned from their old careers to cyber. You gained different experiences and perspective from those jobs. Cybersecurity is looking for diversity when it comes to various backgrounds and experiences. To defeat hackers, we must have diversity of thought since the bad actors come in many shapes and sizes.
You have more transferable skills than you think. This includes hard skills and soft skills. I have heard many hiring managers say they decided to hire someone because of their soft skills and how they presented themselves. Yes, you need to be technically proficient, but often that can be taught easier than it is to teach some interpersonal skills, leadership, reliability, and problem-solving.
It is your job to sell yourself to the hiring manager. Once you get the opportunity for the interview, they likely already feel you are qualified. They want to talk with you to see if you fit their culture well. So, if you’ve made it this far, take a deep breath, relax and remain confident. Remember, you are also interviewing the company as much as the company is interviewing you.
If you made it this far, you probably have seen all five articles in this series. If not, then you can start with the first article here.
Finally, if you are in the career path where I was two years ago and trying to break into cybersecurity, especially with no prior experience, PLEASE remember that it is hard work, but it is possible! You simply need to settle on a strategy and not deviate from it. Persistence will win in the end.
Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn for any questions.
Welcome to part 5 and the final article of my series: How to Break into Cybersecurity with no Prior Experience. From deciding to switch careers and go cyber it took me 10 months. In these articles I’m sharing my personal experience and what I believe helped me succeed in getting into this amazing field. The response from my first 4 articles has been amazing. I am enjoying writing these and sharing the iota of cyber knowledge and experience I have. Let’s continue to help each other in the awesome field of cyber!