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10 valuable advices to land a job in 2010

Hi everyone,

Below I share a bit of my personal experience (and also of my close colleagues) that should help you put together your personal strategy to land a job in this challenging field. So get yourself ready, leave your comfort zone and let’s make our career resolutions come true!

1 – Leave your comfort zone

Economic downturn, unemployment numbers sky-rocketing, and so much other bad news hit us on a daily basis. Popular advice is: “If you have a job, stick with it until this whole crisis thing is over”. Sure, this is definitely reasonable, but as the old motto says: With crisis comes opportunity”. Take advantage of the opportunity, leave your comfort zone!

Numbers in the past couple of quarters are signaling a recovery of the economy worldwide, and the next couple of months promises to be the ideal time to find a better job. As any other change in our life, this action might require a lot of effort and compromise, especially if you find yourself in a very “comfortable zone”. The first question to ask yourself: Am I happy with my job? If your answer is anything but a resounding yes, it’s time to open up your eyes and ears for the market. In case you decide it’s time for a change in your life, it’s time to create a plan of action.

2 – Create a plan, and stick to it

If you are reading this tip, it means that you’ve decided that something needs to be changed in your life, work wise. First thing first, if you you’re not the sole decision maker in your house (meaning you have a family to care for), the first step to be taken is to get their buy in. You won’t get anywhere if your dear ones do not share your enthusiasm for a personal decision such as changing jobs.  Once they understand your position and push you forward, discuss with them the possibilities and try to picture where you all want to be by the end of this year.

The plan of choice can mean a simple departmental change, or beginning a whole new life in a foreign country.  In case you decide to move to a new position at work, it might involve building a better relationship with your potential new manager, get acquainted with the work to be done, and so on. In case you decide to move abroad, the process can be definitely painstakingly but as we risk managers know, the bigger the risk , the higher the profit (or loss, in case you fail to prepare a plan B).

Moving abroad might require you to capitalize yourself, apply for visas (which can be an extremely long process), a previous psychological preparedness, notifying your kid’s school, etc. Hence, the recommendation is to write down what your mission is. After that, break the plan down in smaller, manageable chunks and where possible, distribute some tasks among your family members so they all feel responsible and also rewarded once the plan turns out to be a success!

3 – Maximize your network

How many times have you heard of “It’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know.”? Believe me, it works (personal experience included!). So why not use the so called media networking to leverage your career?

Taking my LinkedIn Group as an example, everything started when I searched for a group on Infosec Professionals to join at LinkedIn. That was September 2008, when the crisis was at its peak, and reading through the groups I noticed countless talented Infosec Professionals looking for a new position after being retrenched. That’s when I was struck by an idea: creating a group that would bring Infosec Professionals and recruiters together, promoting their interaction and bringing both ends together.

Today, a couple of years later, the group counts with more than 8000 members, several hundred topics are discussed on a weekly basis and my number of connections grew from around 100 to 500+ (I’m not an open networker, by the way).

In my case, 200 of those 500 are RECRUITERS. Needless to say, I usually get to know about a position being opened WAY BEFORE anyone else out there. My modus operandi:

Facebook – friends and leisure, with a page about the blog.

LinkedIn – Business

Twitter – Business

The underlying tip is: be proactive – search for like-minded people – expose your knowledge. Surround yourself with people who share a common interest.

4 – Invest in your career

Before anything else, allow me to open this advice with a very important statement: CISSP IS HARD. CISSP IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE. Before I took the CISSP exam almos a decade ago, I was one of the guys who would bow when meeting a CISSP, until I achieved it myself. The general perception is: everyone that takes the exam comes back home 99.9% sure they FAILED. So did I. And so did every friend of mine after the exam, and ALL OF THEM, MYSELF INCLUDED, WERE SUCCESSFUL.

That said, my personal recommendation is: Go for CISSP or any other certification/graduation in your area, even if deemed hard. Preparation is key, but there’s plenty of valuable resources to study online. Just don’t make the matter bigger than it actually is.

PS: For those convinced to write about Infosec/RM/Compliance, I’m more than open to publish your article in my blog.

5 – Consider becoming an expatriate

I would dare saying that the world nowadays is more accessible than ever if you want to move away from your old life and start from the scratch, perhaps in a paradisiacal country (very subjective concept :) ) . Infosec professionals are a sought after species, and if you are good at what you do, you’ll certainly find a job abroad. This doesn’t mean that you should start sending out your CV to companies in Tahiti, Bahamas, UK, or Brazil. As mentioned before, PLAN.

In my case, I became an expat initially moving from Brazil to the Czech Republic, and once again when I moved to Australia. But each move required months of planning so to make my expatriate experience a pleasant one. Australia took me 1 1/2 years for the visa alone, since companies here do not hire if you don’t have the proper papers (in most cases).

But one thing is for sure, becoming an expat is not easy. You have to think about whether you speak the local language or if a drastic change of weather is a big deal for you (Finland is rated the #1 developed country, but since winters last nearly 4 months, would you want to move there?). Think it through and read more about it before making a decision!

6 – Get your resume professionally rewritten

I have to confess that I’ve spent a while to convince myself about that one, but as our relocation to Australia was getting closer and I hadn’t updated my CV for ages, I decided to give it a try. Actually, the trigger for me to get it professionally done was, believe me, an unsolicited e-mail. Like all of you, I hate SPAM, but since I was kind of receptive for any help in the daunting task of resume writing, why not?

It turned out to be a good experience. The service promised a free CV analysis, and since it was for free, why not giving it a try? Fortunately, the company was serious and they got back to me with a 5 pages e-mail explaining every shortcoming my CV presented, with very convincing arguments. Making the story short, if I compare my 5 years old CV with the current one, I tell you something for sure: the market requirements for a CV have changed 180 degrees.

Getting it rewritten cost me a few hundred bucks, but since I had spared a budget as part of my overall plan, the outcome was very satisfactory and definitely more aligned with the current market. That’s definitely a recommended service, but make sure the company providing the services has a reputable background and its customers are content with the outcome.

 

7 – Brand yourself

Are you a specialist for a given technology? Have you got several years of experience in a certain specific field? Let everyone know it!

Branding yourself is more than bragging about your skills or experience: it doesn’t come so easy. People should perceive you as an authority in your field, and what’s the best way of doing it, you ask?

Fortunately internet makes this task easier, giving you several different channels to share your knowledge. Let me mention some examples:

  • Starting your own blog: Yes, I know, Internet is full of blogs already. But who said there is no space for your voice too? Taking my blog as an example, I can surely tell you it’s the most rewarding initiative of mine in the past couple of years. It definitely gives me pleasure to write articles and see people participating, no matter if complimenting or criticizing. The point is: I’m sharing my thoughts and opening a dialog with my peers, even though virtually.
  • Asking and answering questions at LinkedIn: LinkedIn is another channel full of people striving to learn, which is a very fertile ground for sowing your seeds and get noticed.
  • Participating in forums and discussion lists: Search for groups of your interest and take part. More than just sharing knowledge, you’re building a network around you with minimal effort.

There are several other options over there, being it a podcast, workshop or association. The point here is having people associating you with a specific knowledge. As said, Internet couldn’t be of more help.

8 – Work on your weaknesses

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: The first step to solve a problem is to acknowledge its existence.

I’m fully aware how hard it is to find our own weakness, let alone accept it. But a sincere feedback from your boss or close peers definitely aids the task. Becoming a better professional requires a huge dose of humbleness from you to accept a feedback that might sound nonsense at first, or even hurt you.

My advice to transforming a weakness into strength is:

1 – Ask people around you what they think your weaknesses are. Tell them to describe situations where they spotted it and try to look at yourself from their shoes. 99% of the time you’ll see they are right.

2 – Ask for their opinion on what you should do to improve that weakness. People will be glad to help you strengthening or developing a certain skill.

3 – Constantly consult with them to measure your progress. It will be rewarding to both of you seeing progress is being made!

9 – Believe

It comes without saying: If you don’t believe you can get there, why would the others? Look around you: you might have already achieved a lot in your life, but there’s still much to do. Keeping faith into your objectives only brings more strength to deal with the hurdles you might face. So look ahead, there is a whole new year ahead of you! Roll up your sleeves and start working on new life right now!

10 – Enjoy it!

Sounds like a paradox, but changes are the only constant in our lives. And when times of change arrive, you have 2 distinct choices: to welcome or to reject them. Being positive and accepting the fact that the unforeseen can happen only eases the transition to the new.

If you’re enduring unemployment or discontent about your current situation, sitting in a chair complaining about the fact won’t take you farther; only action and an optimistic attitude will change your situation.

So now that you’ve given an opportunity to write a new page in your life, make the most of it with passion and perseverance. Positive energy attracts positive things, so pull yourself together, put these advices into practice, and enjoy the changes to come!

Hopefully the tips have been useful to at least make you rethink your situation and perhaps spark some ideas to start different. Welcome to 2010!

-Adriano Dias Leite

 

46 comments to 10 valuable advices to land a job in Information Security

  • [...] In a 2009 ranking of the 50 best jobs in America, the information technology sector accounted for 17 slots. Of these, information security jobs enjoyed some of the highest job growth, seeing a 27% increase in jobs over the past ten years, which should not be surprising since security threats and consequently stricter regulations are emerging all the time, all over the world. An information security career basically involves protecting one of the most valuable assets of a company or organization: Its information. The threats are countless: from malware to hackers, and unhappy employees to natural disasters. The career requires fine skills and can be very lucrative, with the top IT security professionals able to command big paychecks. One good thing about an information security career is that the barriers to entry are fairly low, since the skills can be self-taught. However, while a formal degree in computer science is not an absolute necessity, having one may prove to be a major factor in a firm’s decision to hire you. Many potential employers will also ask you for a professional certification in information systems security. But nowadays, the main obstacle to get into the Security field is experience. To be considered for any Information Security Job most companies will want several years of experience (around five is preferred). This might sound a bit like the chicken and the egg problem: how to have experience if you can’t get the job, and vice versa? As I said before, you just need to plan. [...]

  • Professional Learner

    Thank you so much for this post. I was just laid off from a fortune 500 company and found myself getting very frustured with my job search. I have over 9 years in the IT industry; Info system, LAN admin and InfoSec. I have a BBA and MBA in IT. I have been running into barriers with not having any secuirty certs. I only have 3 yrs in Inforsec; which limits my chances to getting the CISSP. I can go for the GSEC but dont have $3000 to spend. This article help me to refocus and stay positive in my journey…THANK YOU!

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  • PRAJUL

    Hi Adriano
    I would really thank you for the post that u have made especially for entry level people in to infosec jobs. I totally agree upon my personal experience that its very hard to get in . But ur blog has made me think what to do plan next. I will try my level best to enter in to information security side as thats my dream . I want to really thank u again for posting such valuabe information . Pls do post valuable information like job sites too which will benefit extremly for entry level people .

  • Hey mate. I don’t read many blogs, but yours is of thelittle I read.Have a awesome day!

  • [...] One good thing about an information security career is that the barriers to entry are fairly low, since the skills can be self-taught. However, while a formal degree in computer science is not an absolute necessity, having one may prove to be a major factor in a firm’s decision to hire you. Many potential employers will also ask you for a professional certification in information systems security. But nowadays, the main obstacle to get into the Security field is experience. To be considered for any Information Security Job most companies will want several years of experience (around five is preferred). This might sound a bit like the chicken and the egg problem: how to have experience if you can’t get the job, and vice versa? As I said before, you just need to plan. [...]

  • [...] to comments This post is on growth, whether career growth or personal growth, the following post http://www.myinfosecjob.com/2010/01/10-valuable-advices-to-land-a-job-in-2010/#more-438 has some great [...]

  • Shawn

    Excellent article. Well done.

  • [...] promised in our “10 advices to land a job in 2010” article, today I decided to open a space to Jeff Parker, an Infosec Professional and road warrior [...]

  • shobha

    Thanks for the article, it helped me to give more thought on my future steps.

  • rameshk

    Very useful article! worth reading multiple times!

  • Gabriel

    Excellent article Adriano! I am starting my job search in Spain today (after relocating from the uk, looking for quality of life) and read this article first thing in the morning gives me a lot of enthusiam.

  • saumya vishnoi

    very helpful!!
    thanx

  • I can definetly say that this article is the nice one to kiddle our thoughts. Great effort dude.

    http://in.linkedin.com/in/balachandarnatarajan

  • Excellent article Adriano !

    I’ve just moved with my whole family from Germany to Canada 5 weeks ago in goal to find a new job that suite my carrier path, and I am also doing my CISSP certification on my own expense in 5 weeks. I am fully convince of the value of my choice and investments. It’s not easy, needs a lot of family logistics, find right CISSP study time, discipline, discipline, discipline…, and… yes … keep the enthusiasm.

    Our Plan B is to keep up the Plan A. I try to apply on my personal life some high level key ideas of the famous PDCA concept. Let said that my own self esteem is my daily Auditor :-)

    All the Best to everyone in 2010 !!!

    Ralph

  • Wonderful article and it’s really helpful…
    Thanks a lot for this wonderful work…
    –Mayank

  • Great!. Good recommendations.
    Thanks

  • Adriano,

    I wanted to let you know about the great job you did with this article, hopefully people out there will read it and obtain the inspiration you planted with this words of wisdom. Look forward to keep in touch in 2010 and beyond!

    Gene

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