9 tips for finding an early career job in cybersecurity

9 tips for finding an early career job in cybersecurity was originally published on College Recruiter.

If you’re looking to step into the cybersecurity field, you may be seeking advice to kick-start your career. We’ve gathered nine insightful recommendations from industry professionals, including Information Security Managers and CTOs. From honing your soft skills to starting with foundational IT roles, these tips will guide you on your journey.

Hone Your Soft Skills

Spend some time brushing up on those soft skills! In cybersecurity, there will always be new technology and techniques to learn, but it’s never too early to work on the non-technical aspects of the profession. Cybersecurity is a team sport, meaning you may need to get buy-in from teammates in a variety of roles and levels of responsibility. I’ve bounced right from a one-on-one meeting with a COO into a security awareness training session for new hires. The ability to interact with anyone and everyone in the organization will go far!

Cybersecurity teams can have a certain reputation of either being curmudgeonly or chronic worriers. To leverage my organizational team in securing our environment, it’s important that my team is approachable and empathetic. If folks have the assumption that they’ll be berated or chuckled at, that may impact how and if they engage your team in the future.

Chris Watson, Information Security Manager, Choice Solutions, LLC

Stay Realistic About Job Prospects

I’d tell them to be realistic about their job prospects, or they may wake up to a rude awakening. 

While the media touts notions that there are millions of open information security jobs, the facts on the ground don’t match that. 

Most employers only want experienced hires. As Helen Patton writes in Navigating the Cybersecurity Career Path, “There really is no such thing as an entry-level information security position.” 

Ben Rothke, Senior Information Security Manager

Master AI in Cybersecurity

A recommendation I’d give to fresh graduates who are looking for a job within cybersecurity is to learn how to use AI in cybersecurity and master what AI can’t do yet. The only way to differentiate yourself from the thousands of other graduates who are looking for jobs is to leverage the power of AI and master what AI can’t do yet. 

There is no doubt that AI will soon become a regular part of cybersecurity tasks to make the process more efficient. However, it still can’t work on its own and requires assistance. So, becoming someone who can guide AI while also doing what it can’t do yet will give you a big competitive edge. 

For example, AI uses ML algorithms to analyze data and predict, identify, and respond to threats based on those. But if the data is too large and unorganized, it struggles to function. Therefore, you can do a course on managing big data and combine it with your AI and cybersecurity knowledge to make a unique selling point for yourself.

Saketh Kallepu, Co-Founder and Data Science Mentor, codegnan

Network Within the Cybersecurity Community

A recommendation I highly advocate for is proactive networking within the cybersecurity community. As someone who has dealt with the intricacies of this field, I’ve seen the immense value of building professional relationships. From my personal journey, I know that networking can significantly impact your job search as a fresh graduate. Engage with the cybersecurity community by attending local security meet-ups, participating in online forums, and connecting with professionals on platforms like LinkedIn. 

At our company, we prioritize fostering connections within the industry. It not only exposes you to potential job opportunities but also provides access to invaluable insights, mentorship, and guidance. Reflecting on my own experiences, I can attest that in the cybersecurity domain, having a robust professional network can be as crucial as your technical skills.

Leonidas Sfyris, CTO, Need A Fixer

Engage in Continuous Learning and Application

For a fresh graduate stepping into the cybersecurity realm, my key recommendation, carved from the experiences at Kualitee, is to immerse yourself in continuous learning and practical application beyond academic knowledge. The cybersecurity landscape is ever-evolving, and while theoretical knowledge provides a foundation, we develop real mastery in the trenches, dealing with real-world scenarios and threats. 

Engage in online forums, participate in cybersecurity simulations and challenges, and connect with experienced professionals. This hands-on approach sharpens your skills and provides insights that are pivotal in navigating the practical challenges in cybersecurity. It’s this blend of continuous learning and practical engagement that will not only enhance your expertise but also make you a valuable asset in the cybersecurity domain.

Khurram Mir, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Kualitee

Obtain Relevant Industry Certifications

For a fresh graduate pursuing a career in cybersecurity, I recommend obtaining relevant industry certifications such as CompTIA Security+ or Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). These certifications not only bolster your resume but also equip you with practical skills and knowledge that are highly sought after in the cybersecurity field. 

Employers often look for certified professionals as the certification demonstrates a standardized level of expertise and commitment to the field. Additionally, network with professionals and join cybersecurity forums or social media groups to stay updated on industry trends and job openings.

Jonathan Hedger, Co-Founder and Director, OnlyDataJobs

Embrace Diverse Job Opportunities

Be open to different types of opportunities. When you’re starting out, it’s okay not to get your dream job. Instead, be grateful for the possibility to learn and grow in a role. Continuously take on new projects and challenges, but if the exact role you hoped for isn’t available, move forward in a position that could open new doors in the future.

Kelli Anderson, Career Coach, Resume Seed

Pursue Cybersecurity Certifications

If you’re a recent graduate looking for a job in cybersecurity, consider getting certified. These certifications are official badges that show you know your field. They go beyond what you learned in college. They prove your skills to potential employers. Some important ones to think about include the SANS/GIAC certification. 

This certification trains you in practical cybersecurity skills. It includes solving digital crimes, defending against hackers, and auditing systems for safety. Another one is the GIAC-certified incident handler. It also helps you protect computer systems from attacks. It teaches you how to use ethical hacking to prevent data theft. ITIL certifications show that you’re good at making IT systems stronger. You can keep them safe from online threats and change how companies use IT. These certifications tell employers that you’re skilled. They open doors to great opportunities.

Jessica Shee, Marketing Manager, iBoysoft

Start with Foundational IT Roles

For a fresh graduate entering cybersecurity, I recommend starting with roles like Help Desk, system administration, or network administration. While diving straight into cybersecurity is an option, gaining experience in these related areas provides a crucial foundation. It equips you with essential IT skills and knowledge, offering a practical understanding of operations. This gradual approach ensures a well-rounded perspective and is key to long-term success in cybersecurity.

Kimberley Tyler-Smith, VP of Strategy and Growth, Resume Worded

By College Recruiter
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