Applying for a security role? How to list degrees, certifications and badges on your resume
For some job fields, applying for a job is the first step. For those in information security, it takes years to amass the education, experience and real-world achievements before you can even be considered for so much as an entry-level position. This may leave you asking how you should present this body of information to employers to give you the best chances of scoring that sought-after information security role.
This article will detail how to list the degrees, certifications and badges you’ve earned on your information security resume. We’ll also explore some well-founded advice for presenting yourself in the best way possible for the security role you want.
How to list degrees on a resume for a security role
Nearly every information security role available will require at least a bachelor’s degree from a four-year university, and the current trend has been more organizations requiring a master’s degree. While listing the required degree on your resume for a security role is important, it is only a starting point.
Organizations hiring for a security role will give you more consideration if you list your accomplishments and any student projects you may have been involved with in your degree section. This will show the employer that not only could you handle the significant school workload, but also that you had the initiative to spread your wings and learn in other ways. Remember, what you did while in school is as important as graduating itself.
In terms of placement in your resume, your degrees section should take top priority only if you have a substantial amount of extracurricular experience to list, such as projects and accomplishments. If all you have is a degree or two with no project experience or accomplishments to speak of, your degrees section will be better placed beneath other sections that highlight your skills and abilities. Earning a degree will only get you to the door; what you made of it will better open that door.
How to list certifications on a resume for a security role
Certifications are in as high of a demand for organizations hiring for a security role as degrees. Browse through the job board or online job posting site of your choice and you will quickly see that certifications are listed prominently among the qualifications of a security role and sometimes they may be mentioned before degrees. What’s more, most information security job seekers have at least one certification that matches the job they are applying to, thereby making certifications on par with degrees in terms of their importance in applying for a job.
Understanding the importance of certifications regarding the knowledge and skills they certify should be used as a guide with how you prioritize them in your resume. Certifications should be listed based upon their relevance to the job you are applying to and the skills they certify. Individual certifications are named for the relative job title that they cover. If you have multiple certifications, list the ones relevant to the job first, with more general or lower-level certifications (such as A+) listed below.
As with the degrees section of your resume, placement of the certifications section should be prioritized above all other sections when it is the strongest display of your security knowledge and technical skills. Organizations want to know more about what you can do than what you know, so any related work or projects you participated in while earning these certifications will help show hiring organizations that you were applying what you were learning in the real world.
How to list badges on a resume for a security role
Badges, or digital badges, are a carryover from gaming that validate accomplishments, skills, interest and the quality that a badge holder has in various areas of cybersecurity. You can think of them as a sort of mini-certification that will help better demonstrate what you can do for organizations.
Some information security professionals owe their current position to the badges they earned. One such information security professional was a professional salsa dancer that was hired for his first information security role as an analyst and process engineer at Autodesk based on his badges alone.
The first badges were offered by open source organization Mozilla, which created what is called the Open Badge Standard and was first to use the Backpack as a repository for accumulated badges. Other reputable organizations, such as IBM and GitHub, began following suit and offering their own badges.
When you prioritize badges, they should be arranged as the most relevant to the job you are applying to first, with others following based on their skill set relevance. Where you place your badges section should be based on what else you have in your resume. If badges are the only thing you have that validate your skills and have a non-security related degree, badges should be placed as the first section. If your badges are complementary to your certifications and degrees, they should be placed toward the bottom of your resume.
Applying for a security role begins with a solid resume that best demonstrates that your skills and knowledge not only fit the role but that you would be a good fit for the role as well. When creating your resume, prioritize your sections based on which ones highlight your real-world experiences. Badges can help you drive home your experiences much like certifications, but if you have more general badges or less relevant ones, they should be placed last.
- 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Writing a Winning Cybersecurity Resume, Security Intelligence
- How to make your cybersecurity resume stand out: 5 tips, TechRepublic
- 10 Entry Level Cyber Security Resume & Interview Pitfalls, University of San Diego