Top 6 Qualifications Employers in Cybersecurity Look For

It is no secret that the cybersecurity field is one of the fastest growing in the United States and all across the globe. Organizations now have the pressing need to establish, maintain, and innovate upon their own security measures as the field changes. But how can you possibly stick out from the crowd in this popular, growing, and ever-changing job market? Today at PlexTrac we’re going to run through 6 of the most common qualifications employers look for in the cybersecurity field, and why these are the qualities they’re looking for.

1. Relevant and Extensive Cybersecurity Work Experience

The old saying that “experience is the best teacher” reigns true in the world of cybersecurity. Obtaining an entry-level job or internship in cybersecurity, penetration testing, or coding is the best way to prepare for a career in the field. This work experience will give you real-world opportunity to patch vulnerabilities, deal with adversity, code, and get your feet wet in the industry.

If you do not have any real-world experience with cybersecurity we suggest you look for an internship in your area. This is the qualification on your resume that cybersecurity professionals will be looking for. This is the best way to jump-start your career and impress your future boss. Also, obtaining work experience will give you valuable connections and networking opportunities that will likely get you “in the door” with their business, or another related business.

2. Cybersecurity Certifications

Certifications are a large part of the qualification process. Employers love to see certifications on your resume. It comes in as the 2nd most important qualification to have on this list. Certifications give your name additional credibility and justify the skills you discuss on your resume and in interviews. Having relevant, up-to-date, and advanced certifications will give you a leg-up on competition, and prove as a great talking point for interviews.

 Some of the best certifications to obtain to land your dream job include CompTIA’s Security+, Pentest+, Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+), and Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+).  Additional attractive certifications include the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certs, among many others. These certifications allow you to both specify your desired area of work and prove your level of knowledge and understanding.

3. Knowledge of Basic and Advanced Cybersecurity Concepts

Having extensive knowledge in cybersecurity is vital. Knowing what you’re talking about and why you’re talking about it is crucial in a technical field like cybersecurity. Much of this knowledge will have to be picked up once you get hired and over time. However, soaking up information in the classroom, on your own time, and with other work experience will prove beneficial for your qualification.

Another important factor to mention here is to stay up-to-date on the latest information and news in cybersecurity. The field is constantly changing and evolving. Knowing “what’s new” especially in regard to forms of attacks and vulnerabilities will be great information to have and use in the real world.

4. Strong Non-Technical/Soft Skills

While advanced technical skills are useful tools for your toolkit, don’t underestimate the power of soft skills. Employers want an employee they can work easily with. Developing skills like teamwork, time management, critical thinking, and conflict resolution are useful for any job. These skills will prepare you for a real work environment. Most employees view technical and field knowledge as something that can be easily picked up, but if you can’t work with others or manage your time effectively you won’t be hired.

Developing soft skills is something that comes naturally and over time to many, but you might need to consciously focus on them if you find yourself lacking. For example, if you usually prefer to work alone try to branch out and force yourself to communicate with others. It’s great to have confidence in your own abilities, but working with others, for others, and to meet your bosses standards are something all professionals will have to deal with.

5. Knowledge of Relevant Regulatory Policies

Having an understanding of regulatory policy and what is and isn’t allowed in cybersecurity is important. In such a technical and often intrusive field like cybersecurity, there are many laws and regulations that must be followed to remain in good standing. Remaining in good standing is key to maintaining the trust of your customers and clients, and the overall survivability of your business.

With this in mind, developing knowledge on regulatory policy will make you an attractive hire for employers. Following policy like HIPAA, the payment card industry data security standards (PCI DSS), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and more will be useful for how you work on the job. If you do not have extensive knowledge of policy prior to your hire it won’t be a dealbreaker, but it will give you a head start on the knowledge required to be a cybersecurity professional.

6. Cybersecurity or Related Undergraduate/Graduate Degree

While obtaining an undergraduate or graduate degree in Information Systems or Cybersecurity might seem like the most obvious of all qualifications, it isn’t the most important to employers. However, it is a requirement to have at the majority of organizations you apply to. This degree will give you a deep intellectual understanding of the industry and its workings. Also, you will gain valuable experience from a degree. This will culminate with valuable personal credibility in the same vein as certifications.

However, while obtaining an Information Systems or Cybersecurity degree is important, it’s not always required. Many individuals get hired with degrees in computer science or other related “technical” degrees. What’s more important than your degree is what you supplement it with. Backing up whatever degree you obtain with experience, certifications, knowledge of the industry, and more will ensure you get hired in the cybersecurity field in no time at all. 

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