Give your cybersecurity career a boost
While the shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals continues to grow exponentially and ransomware attacks grab international headlines, many mid-career IT professionals with cybersecurity job experience are evaluating their options.
Maybe a year of working remotely has given you pause to think about your career goals and take some time to learn new skills. Or, perhaps you’ve been shifted to a position that focuses much more on cybersecurity operations and management than before.
You are in a rapidly growing, evolving, and challenging field
In any case, you’ll find lots of advice about how to get into a cybersecurity career as a beginner, but not so much on what you should be looking at as you move into mid-career mode. Here are a few suggestions to consider as you review your options going forward. Just know you are in a rapidly growing, evolving, and challenging field—a great place to be as a knowledge worker in 2021.
Look for management role opportunities
Most professionals recognize that moving into a management role supervising others is an advancement in both pay and recognition. Getting beyond the frontlines of security administration into the ranks of management means first and foremost understanding the responsibilities around a specific position such as supervising monitoring or being responsible for a security incident response plan.
Beyond the specifics of any one position, honing management skills involves digging deeper into how your business operates, and how decisions are made. Are you in a fairly strict hierarchical management structure, or does your organization tend to work in collaboration? Does collaboration extend beyond the IT security team to involve other divisions or workgroups?
Cybersecurity certifications and training platforms
Cybersecurity certifications are a good way to enhance your skills and demonstrate your depth of knowledge. While certifications are not mandatory for most positions, they are a good indicator of your dedication to continuous learning and help prove your skills. I highly recommend looking at some of the following certifications and training platforms.
Cybrary is an online learning platform with a growing community of people and companies delivering training.
The CISSP is one of the highest-level certifications in the industry and being a CISSP proves the depth of knowledge and experience in cybersecurity.
GIAC Certifications provide the highest and most rigorous assurance of cybersecurity knowledge and skill available to industry, government, and military clients across the world.
The industry-leading Penetration Testing with Kali Linux (PWK/PEN-200) course. This online ethical hacking course is self-paced. It introduces penetration testing tools and techniques via hands-on experience. PEN-200 trains not only the skills but also the mindset required to be a successful penetration tester.
ISACA’s Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification indicates expertise in information security governance, program development and management, incident management, and risk management. Take your career out of the technical realm to management!
Show how cybersecurity impacts the business
A strong cybersecurity professional displays an understanding of how cybersecurity impacts other functions of the company and communicates ways in which employees can not only meet compliance mandates but improve their productivity. Research shows that the most successful leaders take a strong interest in how the business operates and how cybersecurity can enable safer and better work processes.
Educate employees and customers about the benefits of cybersecurity
While some individuals may be reluctant to place themselves in the spotlight, moving up the career ladder typically requires a higher profile within your organization. You can raise your visibility by contributing blog content, volunteering for special committees, studying security issues, or helping to educate employees and customers about the benefits of cybersecurity through training or speaking engagements. Showing your commitment to improving your job performance can serve as a major motivator for your colleagues as well.
If possible, find a mentor within your organization that serves as a model for how an effective manager operates. Asking questions and seeking their advice helps you to envision how you will perform as a manager, highlighting your own strengths to cultivate and weaknesses to overcome.
While you may have exhausted all the professional certifications available, you may also want to consider enrolling in a master’s degree program in the business. Your employer may even contribute to the costs of higher education, knowing that strengthening business acumen is a proven way to enhance professional leadership skills.
Working through a global pandemic has placed a premium on managers who can quickly adapt to changing conditions
These days, cultivating “softer” professional capabilities typically involves developing a combination of technology, business, and interpersonal skills. This past year, working through a global pandemic has placed a premium on managers who can quickly adapt to changing conditions, sensitive to the pressures that remote workers face.
Know that every organization, regardless of its size, needs mid-level professionals to step up and assume leadership roles wherever possible. High turnover, burnout, and other stressors will test all IT professionals in the months and years ahead. Advancing your career in cybersecurity has perhaps never presented so many opportunities for those who rise to the challenge.
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