A career in cyber security is constantly on the edge of the latest trends and technologies. Staying on top of the rapidly evolving industry is a challenge in and of itself, not to mention doing the work. But there are things you can do to take your cyber security career to the next level. Here’s a look at what will move the needle for your career.
Invest in Your Professional Network
While it might seem like cyber-security is one of those rare fields where there is no lack of jobs. Tech, in general, seems to always struggle with a talent gap. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find jobs if you are not doing the work to set yourself up for success. Professional networking is, and always has been, about finding those future connections and opportunities that you didn’t even know would matter at the time. Building your network takes time and effort, but the return on investment is real.
The best approach you can take to continue growing your career is to expand your professional networking circle and find out what best job opportunities exist within the sphere. Once you have a comprehensive list of the opportunities that interest you, you need to start applying and pitching yourself as the best candidate for the available job.
Never Sell Yourself Short
The pay grades in the cyber security industry are much higher than in other conventional niches. Salaries for cyber-security experts are well beyond the national average, but if you don’t know much about them, there is a big chance that you will agree on a much lower pay scale for a job that should pay more. Your career growth depends on you doing your homework when it comes to the opportunities you are a good fit for.
Do your research on websites like Glassdoor, or tap into your professional network to gauge the expected salary for a job you are applying to. Don’t worry about rejection because you asked for more than what a company is willing to pay. HR professionals and senior management know the worth of cyber-security professionals. They will pay you accordingly to ensure that you land up in their firm amidst a shortage of such skills in the market.
Build Solid Skill Verification and Credentials
The cyber-security space will have a whopping 3.5 million jobs for pros by just 2021. This is just a year away, but the skill and knowledge gaps currently exist among cyber-security professionals are the biggest obstacle companies will face when recruiting talent. When hiring, employers look for solid experience in the industry, and if that’s not readily available, the firm then looks for industry certifications that validate a candidate’s skill sets. That means that even if you are short on practical experience, skill verification and credentials can help you get your foot in the door and assure employers that you know what they are asking you to do.
Go Deep, Rather than Broad
The term “cyber-security professional” covers a wide range of roles and skills. The title doesn’t really say much about what you will actually need to do. From titles to roles to even job responsibilities, everything will differ from firm to firm and from role to role. So, whether you become a system engineer, a cyber-security analyst, system administrator, security consultant, or penetration tester, you are effectively a cyber-security professional.
The trick is to pick a lane, build expertise and experience in that role, and dive deep into specialization to build your value to future employers. Choosing a clear path within this space is important because it makes it easier for you to position yourself clearly within the industry and look for more relevant jobs in the future. Specialization results in higher salaries, more specialized demand, and real impact within your industry. So don’t be afraid to really get into the weeds.