Kunjal Tanna has worked in recruitment for more than 18 years. In 2017 Kunjal and her business partner, Justin Armstrong, set up LT Harper, a cybersecurity recruitment company in response to the severe global skills shortage in cybersecurity.
In this interview Kunjal shares insights about the current cybersecurity job market and advice on how to overcome current challenges, get noticed and hired. “The cyber threat landscape is evolving very quickly. The bad actors become better and find new ways to bring businesses and individuals down. In the current times, the cybersecurity sector and talent are more important than ever but there are a few hiccups that some people will have to overcome,” says Kunjal.
Here's the 'find a job' in cybersecurity checklist. Scroll down to learn more about each of these steps.
Look into most in-demand roles.
Make a list of companies and sectors hiring.
Be extra prepared for the interviews.
Work on your skills and show your passion for security.
Focus on your emotional intelligence and self-awareness.
Improve your social presence.
Do online networking!
Look into roles most in-demand
Kunjal noticed that people who are the most in-demand are experts in cyber areas such as security operations, policies, governance, or incident response. Those professionals are expected to work independently and are trusted to do a good job without much hand-holding.
“There is less demand for junior roles and more senior strategic ones. Typically senior people set new strategies and this type of work isn’t as crucial at the moment due to uncertainty. At the same time, companies that will recognise lack of cyber resilience in place, or the need to improve remote working will see security as much more important and there will be more jobs coming out of this,” says Kunjal.
Research companies and sectors hiring
Despite many sectors, such as travel and transport being negatively affected by the pandemic, Kunjal sheds some light on those that are looking for new talent.
“Our clients are startups and consultancies that are growing and continue to grow. Large enterprise organisations with live vacancies span across all industry sectors so it’s worth keeping your eyes wide open. However, many companies are redirecting money to most business-critical roles or critical business functions. Normally, those companies would hire security talent right away. However, because they are aware of how important security is, hiring for such roles will resume gradually,” thinks Kunjal.
Overcome 3 challenges to find a job in cybersecurity
Having an insight into security job hunt challenges can help you better manage your expectations and job search tactics. Kunjal shares the 3 biggest challenges that she sees working with employers and talent.
Challenge #1 - Hiring managers will become even more selective about who they bring into the team. Because they don’t know when they will have the budget to hire again, they'll want to get the right candidate the first time around.
Challenge #2 - Junior candidates and the new work model. Junior candidates and those starting their careers in cybersecurity might have more difficulty getting a job because of remote working and an expectation of doing the job independently. Doing individual projects with clear goals and tactics and proving that you can achieve them can help you learn more and position you as a better fit for the role.
Challenge #3 - Career transition from another industry into cybersecurity. Companies might find it more difficult to understand how diverse skills will be valuable at this time. It could be a short to the medium-term issue but companies will see the value in different skills that new people can bring.
Leverage 3 opportunities to advance your cybersecurity career
Learning - If you have spare time use it for learning and upgrade your skills. There are many courses available on Cybrary and Udemy. Also, check out this course and upskilling list that LT Harper has put together.
Passion - "Many hiring managers ask us for people who've got a passion for security. Practice anything that demonstrates your passion for the subject matter and your willingness to learn. Get your hands-on penetration testing, there are many labs available to practice. Also, write industry articles, share knowledge, and learn through video or other types of content," suggests Kunjal.
Many hiring managers ask us for people who've got a passion for security.
Emotional intelligence - “If I had to recommend only one thing for career development, it would be emotional intelligence and self-awareness. When we hire people who are experts in their fields, the ones who end up getting multiple offers aren't just technically exceptional. They build connections with their clients and understand their business needs and challenges. Developing new technical skills or getting a certification will always help, but what makes somebody stand out is the ability to connect and communicate well. It’s about being self-aware and understanding how to ask questions, interpreting information, and putting all this knowledge together makes a really good candidate,” adds Kunjal.
What makes somebody stand out is the ability to connect and communicate well.
Make an impact
“A career in cybersecurity is one of the best careers out there. We live our lives online; it's crucial to keep businesses, individuals, and information protected. With a career in cybersecurity, one can truly make an impact. Many people are thinking about their career choices and whether they do something that serves the world and community. If during this pandemic we didn't have the internet we wouldn't have access to news and we wouldn't be able to speak to each other. To do those things we need to keep services protected. That’s why it’s a socially impactful career that will get more and more important,” says Kunjal.
With a career in cybersecurity, one can truly make an impact.
Tips for looking for a new job
Kunjal's tips on how to stand out and make new connections when looking for a new role.
Social presence - Improve your LinkedIn profile and CV. It’s very important to have your elevator pitch ready that highlights your skill set. Check out Kunjal’s articles on getting your LinkedIn profile noticed and how to create a great CV.
Online networking - To advance your career development I recommend attending online networking events. Kunjal pointed out that in some ways online networking events can be even better than some of the face-to-face ones because people don't talk over each other, everyone gets to talk and listen to other people's stories. It’s a great way to build connections and test your soft skills.
Even though the job market for cybersecurity talent has slowed down compared to the beginning of the year as companies face unprecedented difficulties and uncertainty, the beauty of working in cyberspace is that the demand is still there. It’s a perfect time to learn, reflect on your career and try to expand your network for more opportunities.