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Hacking the Security Job Application Process

Simple advice to help job seekers dig out of the black hole of recruiter and employer hiring portals.

Time after time, I hear the same thing from information security professionals: "I feel like when I submit my resume to a recruiter or to a company's portal, it's a black hole."

Let's take a look at why that happens. Both recruiter and company websites are traditionally monitored by internal recruiters and human resources admins who have little background in information security. (There are some with a security background out there, but they are the exception rather than the rule). Recruiters typically look at keywords, job title, and tenure — nothing more. If the words in your resume don't directly match up with what is in their job description, it's on to the next candidate.

Similarly, most internal hiring portals are just resume collectors that will allow internal recruiters to do a keyword search. These internal portals are often inundated with candidates who do not even come close to matching what the job description says, so every resume gets a cursory glance, if at all.

So how do we hack this process? Simple. Create a keyword section at the bottom of your resume that contains buzzwords and technology that you have experience with. If it's in the job description, and you have utilized it, make sure it's in there. Caveat here: if you haven't touched the technology, or have only been exposed to it, don't put it in there. You may get past the first hurdle and get noticed, but you will get hung out to dry when you get to the manager interview.)

The second way to get ahead is to proactively seek out people who are in a hiring position in the company at which you are applying. A lot of people in infosec have traditionally gotten jobs from people they know. As infosec grows, you can leverage your circle of friends via LinkedIn to make an introduction for you to a certain company. If you don't have any second-degree connections, simply cross-reference the company with job titles like "director" and "cyber" or "recruiter" via LinkedIn, and then send an InMail as an introduction.

Don't want to use InMails? Do a quick Google search for the email handle and orientation to send an email directly, or go old school and call and leave a voice mail for the person you want to reach. This shows initiative and gets you ahead of the pack!

Check below for some roles that we have posted on NinjaJobs that will link you up directly to a real, live person who wants to hire. If you have any other questions or comments about the application process, please feel free to ask in the comments:

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