Finding the right cybersecurity job is difficult. It requires the right balance between certification and experience. Sometimes you have the skills, certification and experience for a role, but a vital keyword is missing from your resume, relegating your application to the rejected pile.
It isn’t easy going through the recruitment process, as a lot of the early screening is automated by HR searches and filters. Sometimes it is better to make contact with specific people in the industry by reaching out and letting them know that you have the skills and determination to succeed in the role.
This guide will give you a basic idea of how you can follow a path that differs from the traditional job-seeking process. You will be surprised to find out that you are not the only one looking at going around recruiters. In the next few minutes, we will go into more detail about some of the different networking principles that you could apply to your next job search.
The old saying of “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” can still ring true, especially when you are networking and looking for a job. Having experience, knowledge and certifications is expected of you but not very helpful if you can’t find a company looking to hire you. There are many different ways to reach out and make contact with people during your job search, but the three main ways that you might find especially helpful are:
Think old-school methods like business cards, attending events and exhibits, formal lunches and dinners in a suit and tie. These can be specific to information technology, or they can be parallel events like product and service launches for bigger companies.
These kinds of engagements can be a little stuffy and are obviously quite structured and formal, as the name implies. If you aren’t already pretty well known in the industry, you might struggle to get an invite, but if you do enough research online, you can find these types of events in your area. Just factor in the cost of a ticket if there is a dinner or drinks involved.
This is a more informal way of looking at the job-hunting process. You can get a lot of networking done by attending popular social events that are not necessarily industry-focused. Instead, these are gatherings where people in similar roles all meet, sharing an interest in technologies of activities. This can be for social gatherings like poker evenings, bowling or any other fun activity where you have the chance to mingle with other professionals.
The great thing about this method is that you can make contacts with people that work at a company, but not necessarily in the IT department. When a position becomes available then your name could come up as a worthwhile candidate, especially if you are known as the IT guy in your social circles.
Social media networking
Reaching out on platforms such as LinkedIn and other online sites is becoming more effective as the technology evolves. Mobile devices ensure that any status update, email or instant message is received at any time of the day or night. People are never offline completely unless they make the concerted effort to unplug for the evening. Because of this, online platforms are an easy way to stay on somebody’s radar if you are connected with them.
Such recruiting platforms are seen as the number-one source of quality hires from a company’s perspective, showing how valuable these networks have become. People you have worked with in the past can vouch for you on your profile, and even write you reviews and recommendations.
Sometimes your profile is found for a similar role just because you have a certain skill listed. This is the main reason why you shouldn’t be shy with the details about your skills on your profile. Think of all the training courses and certifications that you have attained over the years and display them proudly on your profile.
You might not want to follow the traditional path of networking, so here are a few other ways you can try to get around the usual recruitment process.
Build an online portfolio
Self-promotion is a good way to showcase your abilities and skills, especially if you are working in cybersecurity and information technology. Think about some projects that you are working on and build awareness about it online. Join a forum or build a website or blog to detail your work. Document your progress and share it with friends and colleagues.
The more interactions you garner through this kind of online portfolio, the better. This has the benefit of getting your name out there much like an artist, photographer or writer might do.
Join an organization, club or LUG
The Internet has opened up many different forums for people to interact with one another. Small get-togethers that involved only a handful of people are now accessible to as many attendees as your venue can handle. This is great news, because it lets you join in on the fun and can help you to make some solid contacts. There are many organizations that actively seek out new members in IT; you just need to know where to start looking.
Here is a list of professional organizations that you could seek out in your area. Professional organizations are not always fun to attend as they focus a lot on technical happenings and advancements in the industry, but they are informative. You can learn a lot from attending these events, and you will make contacts while you are there.
If you prefer to socialize more on an informal level, then think about joining a club. Think about attending capture-the-flag events if you are a security professional and keep an eye on social media channels for events in your area. Even if you don’t make the right kind of contacts at first, you are almost guaranteed to make a few new friends along the way.
If you enjoy Linux discussions, then joining a Linux User Group (LUG) is another great way to meet other professionals and technology enthusiasts. LUGs are not as popular as they once were, but you might be lucky enough to find a few that still operate in your area.
Talk with friends, family and acquaintances
Don’t be shy to talk to friends and family about your search for your dream job. If your role is very technical, then explain what you do in simple terms so that anyone that you have spoken to can easily relate your job role to a potential employer for you. Many jobs come up through word of mouth, so never underestimate the power of social connections. In fact, as many as 35% of employees refer their friends to open positions within their current company. Employee referrals are also seen by companies as a top source of quality hires, so there is way more to it than just friends referring friends for the sake of it. In fact, 32% of friend referrals are done so that the company will benefit from the hire.
Think about some of the places that you have worked at in the past. Did you leave on good terms with your coworkers? If so, then you might have an untapped resource at each of the companies that you used to work at. If any of your old colleagues have moved onto greener pastures, then it also doesn’t hurt asking them if they know of any open positions that are available.
You should always try to leave on good terms with your manager or supervisor, especially if you want to use them as a reference later on in your career. “Never burn your bridges” is a good philosophy to adopt in your career; you never know when a kind word from a former employer could put you over the finish line.
There is no one specific method that is guaranteed to work. In fact, you will find that the success of your strategy will probably rely on you using a multitude of approaches all at once if you are to succeed. So even though you might be on the traditional path of handing out your resume and attending standard job interviews, you need to also experiment with alternative methods. Don’t be afraid to try unconventional methods, as sometimes the best opportunities come from the places that you least expect them.
We’ve mentioned how all the different methods are valuable in their own way, and how to prepare to tell people about what you do, the places you have worked and the kinds of companies where you can see yourself working. While you do these things, you can still pursue the traditional job-hunting avenues by sending out your resume and applying for jobs through recruiters and HR departments. The more creative you get, the better your chances are of finding that dream role.