It’s a no-brainer to understand the importance of cyber security leadership – especially when seeking cyber security jobs – whether it’s with a small to medium manufacturing business or an international powerhouse in the financial realm.
However, this super niche field – while crucial to the worldwide economy – has recently experienced a contraction. This is partially fueled by 60 percent of security leaders expressing burn out in their roles, causing them to change positions or leave the industry, says Jesse Meadors, founder of Tutela Talent, a recruiting firm that specializes in leadership and high-level technical roles within the cybersecurity space spanning technology start-ups, Forbes Global 2000 companies, and other cyber security jobs.
This has created a ripple effect that makes matching talent with proper roles more difficult for both sides of the hiring equation.
“Some companies feel they can get it through a posting rather than a recruiter, so many don’t have the ability to properly screen a cyber leader,” Meadors says. “Often, too many candidates get through who are not the right people. The insight we provide when you choose such a specialist is hard to duplicate with an internal recruiter.”
However, there are areas that are experiencing some growth, like financial services, manufacturing, management services and niche areas within AI. If you’re seeking a leadership role in application, product or information security, government risk and compliance, or as a security breach first responder, here are five tips to consider before tossing your hat into this large and competitive ring.
Identify your strengths
Think about what cyber security skills you have gained in the roles you’ve had, areas of most proficiency or certifications and training that could push your application above the pack. This is the time to be specific and realistic about the skills and experience you will claim to have. Attending a meeting about how a security breach was resolved without you does not make you an expert in resolving a breach. Meadors recommends being ready to tout three strengths you bring to the table. “What companies have you worked for? Did one of those grow quickly? Were you part of a major network breach? Identify work you can highlight,” Meadors says.
Mapping those skills and strength to companies
To narrow down the field and focus efforts, make a list of companies you’ve supported in the past then do a search for competitors for those companies. Or look up startups in the same space. For example, if your experience and skills set is in financial data or services, seek out companies in this realm for effective results.
Update your online business and employment profiles
It’s the 21st Century resume and its reach makes it more powerful and influential. Meadors advises looking through your photos on your background page, working your headline so it’s clear and concise and pushing your expertise front and center. Like “Incident response engineer with 25 years experience with these companies…” so it grabs the attention of companies and recruiters. “In 2023, LinkedIn is your brand. You need to think of yourself as a business,” Meadors says.
Use the magic words
List only the technologies you feel very comfortable talking intelligently about and, again, specificity is key regarding key words. Meadors suggests addressing what you have accomplished – not what your responsibilities were or are. Because most applications are AI-screened it means highly-qualified candidates often don’t make it through the tracking system or simply blend into the sea of other candidate information. “As recruiters, that’s how we may be finding you,” Meadors says. “And you want to be able to be found.”
Knowing the navigation of the market
This journey can be a long one with learning curves. And this is where some of the simple, old-school tools are your friend. Ask previous superiors if they’d be willing to be used as a reference, or reach out directly to hiring managers with similar titles of those you worked for in the past for advice. Having two versions of your application – one that’s ATS friendly and another that you can easily email directly to a hiring manager – is another way to cover the bases when seeking cyber security jobs. It’s also helpful to keep emotion out of the process to keep frustration and discouragement at bay while continuing to plug away. “Often, applications don’t make it through the tracking format,” Meadors says. “Keep applying to jobs but keep expectations low on responses.”
Right now, finding a job in the niche of cyber security leadership and high-level cyber security jobs is tougher than in other industries. If you’re feeling frustrated, a recruiter who specializes in this space can really cut through all the noise and quickly find the right fit for your skills and experience while communicating to potential employers any intangibles you could bring to the table.
Georgann Yara is a journalist based in Phoenix. Find her on X @georgannyara and Threads @georganny.
Photo by cottonbro studio / pexels