A CISO once said to me, “My job search has been harder than my actual job!” and the fact is – searching + securing a new role can be stressful, difficult, and time-consuming. Hopefully, we can provide some advice to help you work through that process deliberately and tactically.
There are a few different stages in the application and interview process, with the first being your personal branding. If a hiring manager, recruiter, or peer knows of you because of your personal brand before you even apply – then you can almost guarantee an interview. This is typically done through regularly posting on Linkedin, especially in your area of expertise and interest. This also can be built through speaking engagements, attending conferences, competing in CTF’s, contributing regularly to GitHub, and being active on Twitter + Linkedin about all of those activities. With Linkedin specifically, post 2-3x per week, engage with comments, comment on other people’s posts, and repost content 2-3x a week as well.
Networking is vitally important. The worst thing that you can do when networking is not network. If you’re interested in a specific company or industry, try to interact with stakeholders at every level in the organization. Reach out to recruiters to learn about jobs that may be a fit, reach out to hiring managers to ask for an informational chat or coffee chat, and reach out to peers to understand how the company works, ask for referrals, and determine culture fit. Often times, leaders + peers are more than happy to help, but no one asks. And don’t forget – when asking to network – be clear in your intentions. Provide context on why you’re interested or why you’d be a good fit. When approaching leaders, be humble, go in with curiosity, and be appreciative of their time.
Short, sweet, and to the point. Your resume WILL NOT get you a job. It WILL get you an interview though. When searching for a specific role, cater your resume to show why you’re a fit for that specific role. Don’t include every single thing you’ve ever done, ONLY include things that strengthen your case for why you should be interviewed. Use verbs at the beginning of bullet points to show the actions you took and the ensuing results. Use data and analytics to provide tangible outcomes and context on scale. Include project work, github repositories, patents, education, technical acumen, certifications, speaking engagements and presentations. Finally, keep one thing in mind. There is not a bot sitting there and reading resumes. More than likely – it’s a human, with a limited attention span. Think about how a resume reads, from the beginning, and order your experience, education, and skillset accordingly. The quicker you can get that person on the other end – whether hiring manager or recruiter – to make the decision to interview you, the better.
Applying to a Job
Step 1: What are you interested in?
Step 2: What are you qualified for?
Step 3: Use Google, Linkedin, and specific company websites to find open roles that fit both of those categories.
Make sure that you’re resume is formatted to the role, you demonstrated your abilities, and that the role is a realistic step for you in your career journey. Generally, there is an option to include either a cover letter or type a response on why you are interested in the role. Find a way to summarize why you’re a fit, interest in the company, and create urgency in next steps. After you apply – find the hiring manager and recruiter working the role on Linkedin. Reach out to both parties, mention you just applied, and ask for advice/information about next steps.
A lot of interviewing comes down to soft skills. If you’re not comfortable talking about yourself or answering questions, reach out to others for help. Whether it’s old colleagues, bosses, or just friends, work through informational interviews, coffee chats and brainstorming sessions until you are comfortable interviewing. When preparing for the interview, make sure you know about the company, their mission, values, and technology you would be exposed to. Go in with questions prepared, targeted towards your specific audience about both the company and the role. Try and make a personal connection to the interviewer, and make sure that you follow up post-interview, both with the recruiter for next steps, as well as with hiring managers or other stakeholders thanking them for their time.
Hopefully, if you’ve worked through these steps successfully, then you have a new job at the end of the day! But I understand it’s often times easier said than done, and that isn’t always reality. If you’ve been stuck in the loop, take a step back and examine where a common vulnerability lies. If you frequently interview but can’t get past the first stage – you need to work on your interview skills and how you present yourself. If you can’t seem to get an interview – odds are there is something in your resume or application holding you back. Good luck, and if you need help, don’t hesitate to ask.