By: Shimon Brathwaite
February 16, 2022
How To Get An Entry Level Cybersecurity Job
By: Shimon Brathwaite
February 16, 2022
Breaking into an industry is the most challenging part of having a successful career, and this all begins with getting the right entry-level job. Unfortunately, only around 53% of college graduates work in their field upon graduation. This shows that getting that first job is a challenge for many people, even after investing 4-5 years and accumulating thousands of dollars in debt to get a college degree. Not only that, but you want to start as soon as possible because the faster you start gaining experience, the faster you make money, and the quicker you can advance in your career field. To help with this, we created this article with some outlines:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_GqCstjCR4&ab_channel=Sandra-Tech%26Lifestyle (embed video if possible)
What makes getting an entry-level cybersecurity job difficult?
There are three main reasons people struggle when searching for their first opportunity.
Lack of Experience: The most apparent issue with entry-level candidates is their lack of work experience. Most jobs have a work experience requirement, and managers will want to hire people who have done that work before. This assures them that you can do it. One study found that two-thirds of employers look for candidates with relevant experience "because it helps them prepare for work and develop general business awareness. Importantly, one-third of employers felt that applicants did not have a satisfactory level of knowledge about their chosen career or job."
Lack of Interview skills: If you're new to the industry and the job market, you probably haven't had many professional interviews before. Having good ones is a skill. It would help if you got used to communicating, explaining your ideas, demonstrating value to the employer, and simply not getting too nervous to think. This can be challenging for new ones.
A Lot of Competition: Since junior positions have minor requirements for work experience, certifications, etc. This means that there will be many people applying. On average, each corporate will attract roughly 250 resumes, with only about 4-6 people getting chosen for an interview. Which means you will have to find ways to stand out amongst many candidates. Source @ zety.com
Six tips for landing an entry-level job
Side Projects: One of the best ways to get experience in the field is to do side projects. You can take courses that will teach you how to build software tools, write computer scripts, give you experience using security software, and many other things that you can put on your resume as legitimate experience. This will provide employers more confidence that you know what you're doing, increasing your chances of getting a job.
Internships/Volunteering: Unpaid experience is just as valuable as paid experience, so take any opportunities you can do to internships or volunteer work to build your resume up. This can be at school, church, non-profits, etc. Also, any tech or cybersecurity experience you can get is valuable, whether sysadmin work, tech support, fixing laptops, etc. Early in your career, you don't want to be picky with the type of work. Something is always better than nothing.
Use Referrals: If possible, you don't want to go through the front door when applying for jobs. If you can get a referral from inside or outside the company, you should use that. This can be personal referrals like family, friends, or acquaintances, but you can also leverage things like your school's career support center or your school's professors. They may have connections inside a company and can give you a referral that significantly increases your chances.
Apply for post-graduate positions: One of the issues I mentioned earlier is competition for jobs. One way to reduce this is to apply for post-graduate employment, where you can only qualify if you graduate from school within a certain period. This limits the number of people you will compete against and ensures that your competition won't have much experience. In addition, many private companies and government positions offer post-graduate work opportunities, and you should target those as someone with not much work experience.
Get your resume professionally written: Your resume is the first thing an employer will see, and you want to make a great first impression. Investing a few hundred dollars in getting a professional resume can make a huge difference in its quality. Also, you want to customize your resume and cover letter (which you should write every time) for each opportunity you are applying for. Do not spam out your resume to multiple offers because that is not likely to get you an interview.
Do Interview Prep: When you do get that call or email for a meeting, you want to make sure that you are in an excellent position to get the job. The preparation includes doing things like mock to help you prepare for the question you can expect and ensuring that you are answering in a way that will present you in the best possible light. You can also research the most common information security questions to know what you will be asked beforehand and have good answers prepared.
Getting an entry-level job, especially your first job, can be difficult, but it's not impossible. It simply requires being deliberate in gaining the experience and skills you need. You can get experience through doing side projects like taking Cybrary's cybersecurity courses, writing computer scripts, or taking other online courses/certifications. You can get actual work experience through part-time work, internships/coops, and volunteer work in the community. As you are doing that work and getting relevant experience in the field, you should invest in getting a professional resume done and doing interview prep to present yourself well when you get called in for a job interview. Lastly, make sure to use all of your existing connections through personal life, social circles, school, community, and any government-sponsored programs to get as many referrals as you can. Many times it's not just what you know but who you know that will determine whether you get the job or not.