It seems like a week doesn’t go by where there isn’t a story in the news about a company having a data breach or vulnerability hack before having to publicly come out and say “yeah, we messed up a little”. And while it is a bit unlucky that companies that to face these problems more and more, there is a slightly positive spin you can take away: the demand for cyber security jobs.

While the term is loose and encompasses anything from network security to operational security, with the need for these roles becoming prevalent in big companies, the market for cyber security jobs is getting competitive as it grows and more people are clued into managing expectations around security.

For anyone out there who is coming in at an entry-level, or looking for ways to progress other than “well I have X years of experience”, here are some of the ways experts think you can make yourself stand out when applying for cyber security jobs.

Know everything you’ve done

Working day to day, you can encounter all sorts of problems and unique challenges that could be forgotten about come home time. Because cyber security is so fluid in what problems crop up, you’d easily be mistaken for working on something and then never remembering that you solved a problem no one else could.

Keeping a brief record of every attack or problem you’ve worked on can build a clear picture of your true experience and where your strengths lie. Simply having a brief and succinct list with the types of jobs you’ve worked on and what you did can help a potential recruiter see that you are worth what you say you are. Just remember to hide or blank out specific names when it comes to showcasing this work, so you’re seen as a consummate professional.

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Ask the nitty-gritty

Ever have that feeling of a blank face and nothing in mind when the interviewer wants to know if you have any questions?

The default response (always the worst one) at the end of an interview is to discuss salary – a big no-no. You don’t want a potential employer’s last thought of you to be concerned with money.

 Because cyber security is a broad term, you can use it to your advantage by asking questions like:

  • What specific area of cyber security does the company have issues with?
  • Do you already have people covering application and network security, and how clued in are the whole team with the different elements of cyber security?
  • Where do you see me fitting in with the current security team set-up?

Remember that you want to be seen as gracious for being there, but also as an expert, so asking questions like these are little glimpses that you want to be part of their company, rather than just some candidate just looking for a job.

Find the weak spots

A great tip I picked up from Empiric that I think can really make you stand out not only to a potential employer but also help you get noticed at your current job – find vulnerabilities no one is looking for out of hours.

Employers love someone who takes the initiative, so take the skills you already have and see if there are any weak spots in your company’s network that no one else has figured out or taken their own time to notice.

Finding something wrong when no one else is looking can help you be seen as someone who cares about the company’s current network set-up. This helps you get possibly get awarded, or simply helps you stand out when the chance for a promotion within the team comes along.

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On the opposite side of the interview table?

If you’re in the middle of trying to hire someone to fill a cyber security role but haven’t the faintest on how you should be describing the role, take a look at our recent post on how to write a great job description here.