Today, we unpack the final three career myths from our Get the Brett Scott on Cybersecurity (Get the BS on CS) video series. It is my hope that the various topics we will cover throughout this series will be the motivation needed to continue your exploration of a career in cybersecurity and that the truths we have shared will keep you curious about this dynamic field. Join me, Sheri Piper, Tech Data Cyber Range Master and our friends– Jim Craig, Dean of Business and Information Technology and Will McCullen, IT Center of Excellence Advanced Program Manager from Pima Community College (PCC) as we address these last few myths about cybersecurity careers. If you have missed any of the video series, we invite you to view them all here.
Myth 7: There is only one cybersecurity career path.
The Truth: There is a vast number of cybersecurity roles from which to choose. It’s not just about coding or breaking code. There are jobs that require a background in legal, sales, marketing or accounting that would be of benefit to help you land the right job.
I love the fact that there are folks who have an interest in cybersecurity, but they aren’t sure what job roles exist. This uncertainty creates the perfect opportunity to take advantage of one of the cyber ranges at Tech Data or Pima Community College. These hands-on or online facilities allow folks to explore their interests and discover which path is the best fit for them. In addition, they will be surrounded by other security professionals, aspiring learners and other types of talent in a culture that is created to foster exploration, communication and collaboration, all these things will help them find their passion.
Myth 8: There is no cybersecurity skills gap.
The Truth: While some would debate on this topic, the truth is the cybersecurity skills gap is a very real thing. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally by 2021. Why is there such a skills deficit in the cybersecurity industry? Why are organizations having such a hard time finding the talent that they need? The simple answer is cybersecurity isn’t something you find at the corner store in a neat little package. It is knowledge that is acquired through hands-on experience and practical education, and most schools are not well-suited to provide that type of experiential learning.
Obviously, PCC is a great exception to that rule. They get it. Being in a place where there is ambient knowledge, people who have actually walked the walk, done the job and have lived it – they are the kinds of people that can transmit knowledge that is not found in a book because the field of cybersecurity changes so rapidly. What’s written today is generally outdated a year later apart from some basics/fundamentals.
“Part of this disruptive education model is about having industry relationships with businesses coming to the range, coming to the Center of Excellence and working with the students. That serves a couple of purposes. It allows students to see where they need to go, what they really need to learn to be a valuable contributing future employee of that business. It also allows employers to look at those students very early on and recruit them,” explained Jim.
Sheri went on to state that, “It’s the willingness to learn, keeping that open mind and understanding that if you have that drive, if you have that internal need to fill something bigger than you this is the industry for you.”
Myth 9: It’s too hard to get into the cybersecurity field.
The Truth: We hear this often, so I decided to put the process to the test. I removed my name and submitted a job application with my resume to a bunch of different job positions and I experienced the same thing. It was quite humbling, but it made me really understand the fact that there is a huge problem culturally in cybersecurity.
It really starts with HR. They often rely on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to weed out the number of unsuitable resumes that are applying for a position by filtering based on keywords. What that ends up doing is filtering out the right candidate and generally promotes, let say an improperly motivated candidate to the top. So how do you break through all of that and what do you do to help yourself land that position?
Here are a few suggestions to help you get your foot in the door.
- I think one of the easiest ways is to work with Pima Community College and Tech Data. We have an ecosystem of millions of businesses worldwide all of which are very hungry for talent. When you come through or with us, you are already starting ahead of the game because you are associated with a known entity and someone is vouching for you.
- Another great way is through networking. Sheri mentioned, “…sometimes it is who you know. It’s not going to work for every major corporation, but sometimes getting to know the people/managers who are working there and having them put in a good word when you are applying is a great way to get your foot in the door.”
- “We also encourage students to think about getting experience in a different way. Many of our students are now spending a considerable amount of time in the Cyber Warfare Range. If you think about it that’s experience. If I’ve spent 40 hours trying to learn how to install a blade server and install the operating system on it and then hacking into it, that’s experience. I can talk about confidently because I spent the time doing it. I walked away with the knowledge. I walked away with experience and I can put that on my resume. That’s something employers are looking for,” said Jim.
- “One of the biggest things we forget is, sometimes a blanket resume isn’t always a good idea. You have to focus and tailor your resume to the job that you are applying for because unfortunately, we have those ATS filters that we have to make it through.” Sheri goes on to say, “The other side of that is, I think it is our job – in the industry – to help HR departments understand what we are looking for… Some people are just not great at selling themselves on paper, but you can get in front of them or on a call with them and realize they have talent and what they’re doing is really important work and they could be a great fit with the organization.”
I would venture to say that if you applied at least one of the above suggestions to your job search, finding a career in cybersecurity would move from a distant dream to a reality.
At the end of the day, HR departments and hiring managers are not the enemy. They are doing their very best to find well-qualified candidates to fill their open reqs. If we work together by sharing the tools, resources and knowledge we have, we will find the best cybersecurity talent. We all have the same goal in mind – to hire professionals who have a passion for this field and want to be involved in something bigger than themselves.
Thank you for tuning into the first Get the BS on CS video series. We look forward to bringing you more truths about this incredible field and expanding your interest in cybersecurity.