Recruiter’s Notebook: What It Takes to Work in Cybersecurity

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All October as part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), we’re sharing cybersecurity tips from the people who live and breathe it—ESET employees. This tip comes from ESET Sr. Recruiter Chris Schellenberg.

A few months back, I was working on a highly technical role for one of our engineering teams. Fairly early in the recruiting process, I was sure I had found our perfect candidate: He had all the technical certifications and then some, plus the skill sets and education to back it up. We would just get the in-person interview out of the way and be off to the races.

Or so I thought.

Apparently this particular candidate did not do his homework on ESET or the industry. In the interview, he came across as arrogant and aloof. He was also deficient in another area that wasn’t obvious from his resume. Whether it was nerves or something else, he couldn’t really look interviewers in the eye, missing a crucial opportunity to develop rapport. It was hard to picture him in our fast-paced, communication-oriented team.

After the interview, we headed to a meeting room to debrief. Was it a yes or a no? As it turned out, his ended up being one of the worst interviews for the role, and not one person recommended that we hire him, even though on paper he had the skills, education and experience.

Moral of the story: There’s a lot more to landing a job in cybersecurity than just background and pedigree.

So, what are Internet security companies really looking for? First, as our industry continues to be among the fastest-growing, cybersecurity companies will increasingly draw from professionals from other industries and specialties.

Secondly, the drive to combat increasingly sophisticated cyber criminals is propelling antivirus companies not only to develop better products, but also to invest in human capital. Yes, we do need hardcore developers to pump out impeccable code—but equally as important, we need visionary graphic designers who can present information with the greatest impact, technical customer service engineers who can clean infected computers remotely but also put users at ease, and talented writers who can make extremely technical information comprehensible and useful.

Let’s say you are already extremely passionate about security. How do you set yourself apart?

Be prepared to talk tech. This is more than just knowing the industry—it’s being passionate about technology and how it’s changing our lives. What tech companies do you follow? Are you aware of the most recent data breaches? What is the “geek” project you’re currently working on in your spare time? You don’t need to be a developer to make a difference—passion and knowledge around tech and cybersecurity could be the game-changer!

Volunteer. Volunteering is the perfect way to bridge the gap when you are interested in shifting into the cybersecurity space, but don’t have direct industry experience. By volunteering for cyber-related initiatives, you are directly exposing yourself to groups and companies tied to the industry—and of course, helping others and doing your part to change the world. It is a win-win!

Network, network, network.  With LinkedIn and other business-focused social platforms at our fingertips, there’s no reason why you can’t build relationships with your target employers and the great people who work there. Start by following them on LinkedIn to learn their culture, hiring practices and major initiatives. To stay up to date on ESET, follow us here. Being engaged with a company before a position becomes available will give you a huge advantage in the selection process.

In the end, it’s not all about the hard skills. Here at ESET, we want to know you are passionate about security and helping others become secure as well. Bring this drive together with your skills, and you’re well on your way to a career in cybersecurity.

ESET is proud to champion National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which was created as a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. Learn what ESET’s doing for NCSAM and how you can get involved.