Why You Didn’t Get That Cybersecurity Job Offer
There are currently 285,681 cybersecurity job openings in the United States. If you’ve been applying for some of these jobs, then you already know that securing a new gig isn’t as easy as the numbers imply. While there is certainly a worrisome deficit of cyber employees, no information security job is guaranteed just because you met the requirements.
Maybe you missed the opportunity to fan the skills the hiring managers really wanted to see or maybe you came on too strong in the interview itself. Let’s look at the most common missteps of today’s job candidates and how you can improve your chances of locking in the next career opportunity that comes your way.
1. You Didn’t Link Your Experience To The Position
Whether in your cover letter or in the interview, one of the biggest issues for a hiring manager is when you fail to draw the bridge between your past experience and the job you’re gunning for. Fortunately, cybersecurity is a multi-dimensional field, composed of a wide range of disciplines that probably link to areas of study and occupational responsibilities that you’ve held in the past. In other words, you need to connect how your previous academic work and work experience will give you an advantage to fulfilling the responsibilities of the position.
Next time you prepare for an interview, don’t be afraid to get creative when describing the overlap to your previous responsibilities. For instance, the experience you gained in retail as a sales associate, a front desk agent at a hotel, or server in the food industry can apply. You could say that you’ve had plenty of practice operating efficiently under tight deadlines, appeasing an unsatisfied customers, and have a knack for finding creative resolutions. It’s up to you to explain how you would utilize your transferable skills to become a high-performer and an asset to the team.
2. You Failed To Leverage Your Soft Skills
Many prospective cybersecurity candidates get bogged down in the technical responsibilities of the role and disregard the soft skills required to nail an interview. Maybe you did the same in your last outing. In the future, show that you’re a solid communicator. Be amiable and listen to your interviewer. Don’t underestimate how behaviors can set you apart from the pack. The interviewer isn’t just considering, “Can this person do the job?” He or she is also considering questions like “Is this someone I would like to work with?” or “Does he or she show an authentic eagerness to learn?” Your communication abilities may help you to navigate technical areas in which you aren’t as experienced as the employer would like.
Yet, it’s not enough just to mention you’re a great communicator. Another aspect that falls under “soft skills” is being able to see the bigger picture. Convey that you understand how a cybersecurity team, and your prospective role, fulfills a business need. Explain how your understanding of how cyber incidents can impact the organization at large. Show that you can visualize the impact that different areas of cybersecurity have on the organization’s overall security posture. This kind of “seeing the forest for the trees” perspective not only makes you valuable at the ground level, but could start you on a path to management early on.
3. You Seemed Arrogant
A lot of interviewing websites talk about how important it is to be confident or to even have swagger. Perhaps you walked into your last interview as if you owned the place. The truth is that exuding too much confidence can be perceived as cockiness or arrogance and thus result in being written off quickly in the interview process.
Don’t be shy. When you’re asked to explain how and why you’re the best candidate, give an honest answer and make sure you cite examples that relate to the job description. A good rule of thumb is to provide three reasons or examples. On the other hand, don’t stretch the truth. We’re not saying you should undersell yourself, but a touch of humility goes a long way in an interview room. As we said before, show your willingness to learn. If you really want to impress the interviewer, ask a difficult question like. “I told you why I’m a good fit for the position and why I am eager to take advantage of an opportunity to join the team, do you feel there is any reason why I might not be a good fit from your perspective? I’m happy to address any of your concerns.” This will not only give you a second chance to prove your value without sounding overconfident, but it also shows that you welcome feedback.
4. You Didn’t Showcase Your Critical Thinking Abilities
In your last interview, maybe you answered the questions sufficiently, but you didn’t do a great job of explaining your thought process or showing a strong understanding of the business impacts of your solution. Simply describing the solution to the problem isn’t the only thing a hiring manager is evaluating. Instead of stating the obvious, explain how you thought about the problem as a whole, the gravity of its consequences, and the ripple effect – not just a task that you marked off your to-do list. This is the time to show, there’s more to your problem-solving skills apart from your wits and sense of urgency; you also embody innovation, foresight, and resourcefulness.
5. Your Resume Was Missing A Relevant Certification
It’s time to take a hard look at your resume. An organized, well presented resume is imperative in all industries including information security. Possibly, your last job opportunity wasn’t an opportunity at all because you didn’t make it through the application process. Given the competitive nature of cyber jobs, you need to make sure your resume includes the right keywords (hint: many of those are listed in the job description) and reflects the relevant certification(s). HR and recruiting teams do keyword searches as they start their screening process. Don’t let them put you in the “no” stack if you have the certification and key qualities they are seeking.
Another thing to keep in mind about resume tailoring, is that even though the pool of qualified candidates is scarce, your resume still needs to provide you with a competitive edge to stand out from the other applicants. Even if you’ve earned an entry-level certification a few years back, you cannot piggyback off that success forever. Earning and maintaining the most relevant certifications is a large component of the hiring manager’s evaluation and screening process. Recruiters and hiring managers will hand-pick the resumes with the most impressive experience and credentials, including cybersecurity certifications. If you’re under the impression that the cybersecurity industry doesn’t pay close attention to certifications, then you’re mistaken. While certifications most certainly are not a direct replacement for skills and experience, they do provide clear evidence of your aptitude and dedication to the field. Earning an advanced certification implies that you’ve taken the initiative to study and test your knowledge. The hiring managers will interpret this effort as commitment and passion. Show you’ve invested in your education, and hiring managers will feel more confident investing in you.
You’ll Land the Next One
If any of these misdoings sound familiar to you, then don’t be too hard on yourself. You’ll have the opportunity to practice these tips in your next cybersecurity interview. Need help deciding which certification(s) will move your resume to the top of the stack? Learn how you can earn one in three months or less via our Live Online training courses. Lastly, if you’re still narrowing down which cybersecurity role is the right fit for you, take our What’s Your Cyber Role quiz to help identify the best fit.