Cyber Security Resume Tips from the Pirates

Posted by Kathleen Smith

BSides TampaAt BSidesTampa, and ClearedJobs.Net  produced the Career Track to help attendees gain valuable tips to aid them in their information security job search. We frequently hear about the skills shortage in the cyber security industry, yet many skilled infosec professionals are having difficulty finding a job.

One of the key tools for finding a job is your resume. We asked three recruiters to share strategic resume advice with BSides Tampa participants. Special thanks to our recruiters Kirsten Renner, Derek Porter and Mike Wolford.

What Drives You Nuts on a Resume

Kirsten: When job seekers don’t customize their resume to the job, when they don’t keep their objectives short, and when there is repeat information in the resume. Please put the technical skills at the top of the resume.

Derek: One of the biggest problems I run into is that people tend to write a book for their resume. They have a lot of experience and they want to get this all out.  Most times lengthy resumes are jumbled together and I end up glazing over all of the information.  We are recruiting for professionals and you need to be able to present your     qualifications clearly, coherently and succinctly. Presenting your information in a clear format shows me that you are also a critical thinker. If the information is jumbled, I’m going to have second thoughts about your critical thinking.

Several recruiting studies tell you that a recruiter will only look at your resumes for 7-9 seconds. If you lose the recruiter’s attention within the first few seconds due to jumbled information, they are not going to look through the rest of your resume. If you make a recruiter hunt for the hidden treasure in your resume, they are not going to look for it.

Mike: Recruiters have ADD. Our attention spans are very short. If you make us try to make sense out of your resume, we will just move on. The long resumes need to go away and so do the functional resumes. Resumes need to be chronological.  It is not a gimmick, if you make us try to figure out the logic in your resume we are not going to. We have 40 requisitions to fill. We don’t have time to solve your Agatha Christie resume mystery.

If you are trying to figure out how to create your resume, put the most detail for your current position. The further back you go in time, the less detail you need to share.  I want to see more detail about what your current job is because it’s more relevant to what I want you to do now.

But what if you have experience from several years ago that applies to the job that you are applying to? The hiring manager — who the recruiter submits the resume to — is going to say that the candidate did that job with those skills several years ago. I need someone who has recent experience.  The experience is relevant to your overall skill set, but it has to be taken in context with what is needed for the current position.

Remember that recruiters are relying on search to find resumes in a database, and the search results highlight the keywords they are using. You need to have relevant keywords in your resume for the recruiter to notice you. While you may have had relevant experience several years ago, the fact that you don’t have several recent years of experience, is a challenge. Finally, if you include the experience that you have from several years ago, don’t include the same level of detail as with your more current positions.

A key point to remember is to customize your resume to the job posting that you are applying for. Recruiters will rely on keyword match to help them to decide which resumes to spend additional time on. The more keywords that are in your resume that match up with the keywords in the job description, the better the chances of the recruiter looking at your resume.

Most Resumes Are Viewed Electronically

One thing that many job seekers don’t understand is that resumes are viewed electronically. As a job seeker you do not know what kind of computer interface that a recruiter will be using to view your resume. Italics, bolding and special characters may look graphically appealing, but you do not know if these will jumble up your resume when viewed by a recruiter.  A graphically plain resume with dynamite keyword content and coherent information presentation is your best bet.

Some job seekers believe that they are protecting the formatting on their resumes by converting their final resume into a PDF. Unfortunately PDF’s are not searchable, and recruiters search your resume for keywords. Keeping your format simple is best.

Should My College Graduation Date Be on My Resume

A question from the audience asked about putting graduation dates on the resume. The panel advises not to put graduation dates on your resume, but be clear that you did graduate. If it’s not clear, they will assume you did not.

How Many Years of Experience Should I Include

It depends on the position you’re applying for. If it’s a senior-level position requiring 15 or 20 years of experience, you need to demonstrate that you have that experience. Show that you developed your career and the strategic experience that you could bring to the position. The years of experience also plays a key role in which labor categories you as a candidate will fall into, and this is relevant to salary negotiation. So while you need to demonstrate this level of experience, based on the job posting, as we said before, your focus should be on your most recent experience.

What do People Bury on Their Resumes

Mike:  People bury their accomplishments. Recruiters are looking for patterns of behavior and people who are successful leave a path of success. If we can’t see your accomplishments we can’t find how you have been successful.  The first word in every bullet point on a resumes should be a verb: Responsible for, Managed. Give the recruiter an action that you did and what you accomplished. Candidates tend to bury this kind of information all the time. Especially any awards they receive.

Derek: Numbers, people tend to hide the numbers in their resumes while recruiters like to see them.  How many direct reports have you managed? How many deadlines have you met? What budgets have your managed? In the IT space be sure to list the number of projects you have worked on or the number of teams you have managed.  There is also the business side of any technical project: Managing teams, bringing the project in under budget, solving a problem. If the job description is looking for business skills in addition to your technical skills, be sure to share these.

Do Job Seekers Need to Customize Their Resumes

Kirsten: Yes, do take the time to customize your resumes with your key skills, computer languages and experience that are stated in the job description.

How Many Jobs Should I Apply for at One Company

Kirsten: Figure out what you would really like to do. And don’t customize your resume for jobs that you are not going to be satisfied doing.  Even if there are several positions that you are interested in and have the experience for, limit the number of applications to your top choices and build the relationship with the recruiter. A good recruiter will also keep an eye out for you for other positions. You first need to build that relationship. It is also important that the job seeker do their research about the company to have the initial conversations with the recruiter and be able to then build that relationship to ask about other positions in the company.

Derek: People who do their research and know what is going on in the company irritate me. Why? (Joking) Because they are smart and I want to know smart people. I will invest more time with them rather than my breeze through of the initial interview.

Mike: If you apply for 7 jobs, I am going to think you don’t know what you want to do.  And if I look into my applicant tracking system and see that a job seeker has applied 7 times for various positions, I am not going to look at any of them because it’s a waste of my time. The job seeker does not know what they want to do. A recruiter is not your therapist.

Are Video Resumes Gaining Traction

No. They aren’t searchable.

BSides TampaA special thank you to Milicent Reed and the NAAAHR Tampa Bay Chapter for assisting with BSides Tampa resume reviews.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 24, 2017 10:58 pm

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