By: Jonathan Omansky, Senior Director of Operations
During my time as a hiring manager of cyber security talent, I’ve reviewed thousands of resumes. Many of these resumes detail varied levels of experience, education, projects, and knowledge. However, one of the most important qualities in hiring, and one that I rarely see come through on paper is passion.
Passion, be it personally or professionally, is often an overlooked aspect when hiring talent. I’ve seen candidates with an exquisite list of skills, projects, years of experience, and a stellar list of academic achievements, but when sitting down in front of me, there’s very little excitement or desire to be part of a team and the wider cyber security community. This by no means, disqualifies someone in my mind, but all resumes being roughly equal, someone who’s passionate about learning, contributing, taking on challenges, and going the extra mile when called upon, is going to stand out amongst the crowd.
Read and Write – Elevating your Role in Cyber Security Through Passion
If you’re just trying to break into cyber security, if you’re looking to elevate your role in the space, or if you’re simply trying to move laterally into a new role, I can’t stress enough how important it is to display a sense of passion and eagerness.
The inevitable next question is how do I do that? I’ll start by saying, I’m not an interview coach. While everyone has their own interviewing approach and strategy, I will say that when it comes to interviews, convey that sense of passion in whatever way it naturally flows through you.
For example, show genuine excitement about a project you took on, be it success or failure. What about it excited you, where did you see it going, what problem were you trying to solve, did you go the extra mile to overcome hurdles, did you course correct along the way?
Additionally, know your technical domain and the general state of the cyber security space. I advise many aspiring candidates to spend time reading and writing about these topics. A big way you can convey passion is through learned knowledge and developing informed opinions. You can do this by reading the latest happenings in cyber security, be it in the news everyday, or downloading and keeping up with stats generated by large firms, such as Symantec’s semi-annual Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR). Some choose to start a blog and build out their analysis of the story, forming an opinion of what the next steps could be, what could have been done to prevent the attack, how could it be solved, etc. This can be done with news, the latest vulnerabilities from your favorite vendor, whitepapers, government regulations, or virtually anything in the public domain.
Let’s take network security as an example. In addition to your technical learnings and projects, try to keep up to date on the latest network vulnerabilities, exploit kits, pen testing tools, protocol changes, analysis tools, 0 days, etc. Read about them, blog about what you read. Do it weekly, or twice a week, but do it!
As a hiring manager, I’m not necessarily looking for some breakthrough analysis of something in the news, or some opinion that hasn’t been considered, however, seeing your commitment to keeping your knowledge up to date, having the discipline to stay informed and recognize how something might trend or evolve in our world of cyber security, shows an immense amount of passion and can be an indicator of your ability to commit to and complete a project.
There are many ways to stay informed about your domain of expertise. This is just one approach that’s worked well for me over the years. Despite a much busier schedule these days, I still spend about an hour a day keeping up with what’s new in the field. I’ve been doing this long enough to where it's become part of my daily routine and to this day knowing what’s going on, not only keeps me passionate about what I do, but over time I can recognize trends, and even anticipate, in some cases the direction a particular subject will take.
Unlocking Passion and Standing Out
Many of us have a passion for cyber security – but are we in the right role to channel our specific passions, and are we able to effectively communicate how this makes us a stronger employee, candidate, team member? It may be right there in front of you, others may need to dig deeper. Either way, I believe unlocking passion is key to standing out, to elevating your career and to developing a path of continual growth and success.
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