This cheat sheet presents practical tips for finding and getting the right job in the information technology industry. To print, use the one-page PDF version; you can also edit the Word version for you own needs.
Preparing Yourself in Advance
- Understand what jobs you want to pursue in the short term and as part of your long-term career.
- Determine what skill and experience will help you get the jobs you desire.
- Devise and begin executing the plan to obtain the relevant education, training, and certifications.
- Obtain the skills and experience through personal and work projects. Balance depth with breadth.
- Be careful not to become complacent in a job that makes you too comfortable.
- Build an online persona that’s both appropriate for you and desirable for potential employers.
- Craft several “elevator pitches” to briefly explain who you are and what jobs might interest you.
- Treat yourself as a multifaceted company when managing your career.
Social Networking as Part of Your Career
- Build professional relationships with people before you start asking them for job search favors.
- Consider how you might help others along their career path and offer assistance when appropriate.
- Ask for advice, feedback, and guidance of the professionals whom you respect.
- Seek informational interviews when learning about a potential company or a job you might pursue later.
- Don’t take for granted the help and advice that people in your professional network offer.
- Keep the members of your social network regularly apprised of your career progress.
Finding the IT Position Worth Pursuing
- Understand what characteristics make you stand out from your competition. What makes you an expert?
- Look for job postings on companies’ websites and on dedicated job websites. (That’s a given.)
- Establish a relationship with a few recruiters in your industry and make sure they understand you.
- Allow potential employers to find you even when you aren’t looking for your job, so serendipity can occur.
- Consider whether you’ll need to move to the locations that have the job openings you seek.
- Explore multiple single social circles when looking a job: friends, former colleagues, college friends, etc.
- Participate in events attended by the people within the industries or companies where you want to work.
- Network within the companies you want to join to find positions that might not be officially advertised.
- Consider whether you’ll accept a less attractive job to break into the field, industry, or company you desire.
- Find a way to contact the hiring manager directly in addition to applying through the official channel.
Crafting and Polishing Your Resume
- Review resumes of similarly skilled people to understand your job options and competition.
- Understand the job requirements of the position beyond what’s in the official description.
- Customize your resume to match the specific requirements of the position you’re pursuing.
- Make sure that every bullet point in your resume answers the question “So What?“
- Don’t rely on your resume as the primary way of getting the job for which you’re applying.
- Be truthful and brief in the text of your resume.
- Describe both technical as well as “soft” skills (communications, sales. etc.) in your resume.
Handling the Interview for an IT Job
- Research the organization and the position you’re pursuing. How are they different from others?
- Research the people who will interview you, so you can better engage them during the conversation.
- Find out the dresscode for the interview. When in doubt, it’s usually safer to over-dress.
- Be ready to ask a few insightful, nonobvious questions during the interview.
- Treat the interview as a conversation, not a one-sided Q&A session.
- Use the interview as a chance to explore the culture of the company where you might end up working.
- Send a thank-you note after the interview, referring to the specific topics discussed in the interview.
Negotiating the Compensation Package
- Understand what salary you can expect by looking at survey findings, job postings, peer discussions, etc.
- Be prepared to answer the potential employer’s questions about your current compensation.
- Consider all aspects of the compensation package, including salary, bonus, benefits, training, perks, etc.
- Understand which aspects of the compensation package the employer can actually negotiate.
- Understand your alternatives to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) to know when to say “no.”
- Stay engaged with the hiring manager throughout the negotiations process, which might span weeks.
- Remember to show that you’re excited about the new job and that you also value your self-worth.
- Research and practice influence techniques that might add to your negotiating power of confidence.
Career Tips for Information Security
- Lesley Carhart’s Starting an InfoSec Career advice.
- Brian Krebs’ series of interviews on breaking into the information security industry
- Hal Pomeranz’ advice on getting started in information security or any other career
- Lenny Zeltser on recruiting infosec professionals
This cheat sheet is distributed according to the Creative Commons v3 “Attribution” License. File version 1.2.