Tips to Navigate Veteran Job Search in the Civilian World

Posted by Nikk Gilbert

how you get your certificaitonsInformation Security Executive and Veteran Nikk Gilbert shares insights with veteran job seekers to help guide their career transition into the civilian world.

Navigating Job Search as a Veteran

Every organization looks for a different cultural fit. This is something to consider as a veteran job seeker looking for your next position. Some companies embrace the military and have a definite desire to use the skills, knowledge and abilities learned in the military, while there are others that don’t value military experience as much as the others. They might assume veterans only follow orders or that they’re going to be less polished, but there are other opportunities in that case that would fit a veteran job seeker much better. This is why researching the companies you want to work for is so important.

Job seekers need to be diligent and interview their interviewers. You’ve got to dig in and analyze these companies to know whether or not there’s a good fit. From an information security perspective, there are many companies out there that are desperately looking to find good qualified people. So, it’s just matching your personality with the right organization. It’s the job seeker’s responsibility to do the ground work, gather information and figure out if that corporate culture is one where they will be able to flourish and become successful.

With so many infosec jobs and so few people to fill them in today’s market, information security job seekers are driving the ship. So, it’s really up to the individual veteran to decide how big of a role their military experience will play in their job search. Was it what defined their entire life? If so, they’re not going to aspire to work for a company that regards veterans in less than a positive light. But if it’s a company that supports veterans, that’s more likely a company where they’re going to succeed.

Sometimes one’s military experience comes closer to the forefront and sometimes it gets pushed a little bit back depending on the company. It can really matter how much of that military style you let out and how much you don’t in some situations. Experience prepares you for that however —you can’t learn that, taking a cautious and well thought out approach will help guide you down the path. As you progress from position to position, you have to become a chameleon. If you’re cognizant enough of your own self, you can fine tune and give the organization more or less depending on the situation.

Getting the Most out of Certifications

When it comes to certifications generally I see them in a positive light—but it’s important how you get them. When I got my first Microsoft certification, I went to four weeks of training, it made an incredible difference in how effective I was. Learning through boot camps and actually going to a training to get certified is a huge benefit in the security realm. If you go to a boot camp for a week of CISSP training you are going to walk away with some really great security knowledge.  I would caveat that by saying the quality of the instructor matters a great deal.

Now, one the other hand if you’re the guy who simply ordered the book from Amazon with all the pre-written questions and answers and you only memorized the right answers I think there is very  little value in getting your certification like that. All it shows is that you might have a really good memory. I like to believe that security people who are committed to their career field will do it the right way, either some serious self-study or they go to a boot camp and actually learn the course matter.

So, from that perspective, certifications done the right way can be very meaningful and can serve as an indicator of your commitment to your field, making you an even stronger candidate and a more knowledgeable security practitioner.

Putting the Puzzle Together

You’re driving the ship but it’s up to you to showcase how much you can offer an organization through your multitude of experiences. Someone who’s been in the military for any length of time has likely developed leadership skills or has been in a position where they have to make decisions and not be afraid—that’s rare. These are qualities that check a number of boxes for many hiring managers and recruiters that see the value in your real-world experiences. Add some certifications done right on top of all that, and you’ll continue to elevate your job search and find the right fit where you will be a vital addition to the information security workforce.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 22, 2019 11:08 pm

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