How to Get a Top Cyber Job in 6 Steps

Have you set you’re sights on getting a top cyber job? Are you ready to take the necessary steps to get the offer you want, or, even better, multiple offers? You’ll find out what it takes to get an upper-level cyber job with a sought-after employer in this series of blog posts.

The demand for qualified, job-ready cyber professionals is accelerating. With over 1 million unfilled cyber positions worldwide, employers are scrambling to find exceptional candidates. You only need one of those positions. What does it take?
To land a top cyber job requires six main steps:

1. Get the attention of top cyber employers.
2. Find job openings.
3. Get the interview.
4. Prep for the interview.
5. Ace the interview.
6. Negotiate the best offer.

The Mission Critical Institute team of career architects, practitioner faculty and behind-the-scenes facilitators have helped thousands of people move in or move up in the cybersecurity field. Our goal, through comprehensive graduate education, certifications and networking, is to help you be successful and get the cyber job you desire. The following graphic provides a snapshot of Mission Critical Institute’s accomplishments in this area.

Throughout the “How to get a top cyber job” series of posts, we’ll draw upon examples of students we have helped that will prove our methods work. Let’s start with Step #1: how to get the attention of top employers.

Step #1: How to get the attention of top cyber employers

Hiring managers at top employers – Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH), Wells Fargo, Harris Corp, Cisco, the federal government – sift through thousands of resumes every year, looking for the best cyber job candidates. How do you make sure you’re resume is on the top of the stack? Branding.

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, gets credit for that saying, and it absolutely applies to cyber job seekers. In a competitive job market, you have to market you’re background and skills to get the attention of employers. That means you need a brand that appeals to the employer you want to attract.

First, you build you’re brand by gaining education, skills, credentials and so on, and then you communicate you’re brand by providing evidence you have these things.
Here are items employers look for in a cyber candidate, which form the foundation for a cyber brand:

Experience: Employers prefer candidates with direct, hands-on cyber experience who are job-ready. In other words, employers really want workers they don’t have to train. For example, an employer seeking to fill a cloud security analyst position looks for someone with FedRAMP experience and who knows the NIST Risk Management Framework (RMF) top to bottom. In advanced management and analyst positions, an employer may look for someone with business case development who can make cybersecurity program investments in the enterprise.

Background and education: Cyber employers want candidates who know how to apply knowledge and competencies to solve problems, and a graduate education does just that. The best cyber graduate programs are taught by leading cyber practitioners who work at top cyber employers. Plus, employers can bill employees with a graduate certificate, MBA or MSIS at a higher rate, which helps both of you earn more money. You also may need to pass a thorough background check and meet the requirements for a security clearance.

Credentials: This includes earning one or more industry certifications, such as the CISSP, CAP and CEH. Even better, couple an industry certification with a performance-based cloud security certification, such as the newly released Certified Cybersecurity Cloud Risk Management Professional (CCRMP) Certification. Cyber employers increasingly seek performance-based certifications that validate a candidate’s skills and capabilities, rather than having to rely only on exam-based cybersecurity certifications.

Writing skills: Cyber employers need staff with strong writing skills, whether creating internal memos or generating large, complex reports.

Recommendations: Use a business social media platform like LinkedIn to form a network of cyber-focused contacts that includes faculty, fellow students and employers.

Once you complete the nuts and bolts of brand building, the next step is effectively communicating you’re brand to potential employers. To begin, review/revise you’re resume and LinkedIn profile to add keywords that zero-in on you’re experience and qualifications, such as “NIST RMF” and “cloud security.” Also have writing samples available that showcase you’re work, such as projects completed as part of you’re degree program. A good way to do this is to display a link to an e-portfolio of NIST RMF or ethical hacking projects. And include you’re accomplishments as well as faculty recommendations in you’re LinkedIn profile that testify to you’re experience. Think about the impact on employers when they see you have recommendations from leading cyber practitioners who work at BAH, the US Army, Harris Corp and Cisco.

Another part of you’re brand lies in social media. If you’re resume makes the short list, hiring managers will want to know a lot more about you’re character, integrity and reliability. They’ll check LinkedIn for testimonials from instructors, co-workers and managers, and they’ll browse you’re Facebook and Twitter posts. Will they find photos and posts that could potentially misrepresent the company’s mission statement and values, or affect you’re ability to achieve a security clearance? Keep in mind that HR is not an employee advocate; it exists to protect companies from legal lawsuits. HR must be thorough in evaluating potential employers, and that includes a candidate’s social media presence.

Mission Critical Institute can help you build and you’re brand and teach you how to communicate it effectively. You can gain the knowledge and hands-on skills needed by cyber employers by completing an Mission Critical Institute-sponsored cloud security risk management master’s program, earning the CCRMP, and getting you’re CISSP, CAP or CEH.

Mission Critical Institute career architects know what it takes to get the attention of top cyber employers and are ready to talk strategy with you.