How to Write a Resume for a Cybersecurity Position
The demand for qualified cybersecurity workers is high and likely to remain so.
During the 12-month period ending March 2018, there were more than 300,000 open positions in cybersecurity, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of jobs in the sector to increase by 18 percent by 2024. Which may explain why the field’s current 768,000-plus workers earn salaries averaging $116,000 – three times higher than the annual average income for U.S. workers.
Just because demand for your skill set exceeds the supply of qualified applicants doesn’t mean a well-crafted resume for a cybersecurity position can’t increase your chances of finding the optimal next role or increase your bargaining position once you do.
What to Include
1. Skip the Objective, Keep the Summary
Unless you are entering cyber security from another sector, don’t include an Objective section. Instead, when you build a resume for a cybersecurity position, begin it with a Professional Summary, followed by areas of expertise. Begin by describing yourself with a title that parallels the title in the job description as closely as possible. Don’t go overboard with the areas of expertise; instead, select those highlighted in the job description that aligns most closely with your experience.
2. Accomplishments, Technical Skills, and Certifications
The bulk of your resume for a cybersecurity position should focus on accomplishments, technical skills (or “core competencies”), and certifications, in that order. Follow up your Professional Summary section with a bulleted list of your career achievements, emphasizing measurable accomplishments.
Next, list technical proficiencies, including platforms, networks, languages and tools used in your past positions. Your certifications can be included after your skills section. If you are seeking a role that requires security clearances, include these along with your certifications.
3. A Demonstrated Passion for Learning
Because cybersecurity is a rapidly evolving field, a passion for learning is crucial. This trait can be demonstrated through participation in professional conferences and career achievements that highlight your adaptability.
4. Cover Letter
Always build a cover letter to go along with your resume, even when it is not asked for, and tailor it to reflect the keywords used in each job ad.
What to Leave Out
1. Eliminate Redundant Job Functions
If you had similar responsibilities in several past jobs, find new aspects of your skill set to emphasize in each role. Otherwise, it may look as if you did not progress from one position to the next.
2. Filter Professional Activities
Listing some involvement in professional associations can demonstrate dedication to the field. But if too much of your resume is focused on this aspect of your career, it might leave the impression that you are more focused on outside activities than your job. Highlight only your most impressive outside achievements near the end of your resume.
3. Limit the Jargon and Acronyms
It’s very likely that an automated applicant tracking system (ATS) will be assessing your resume to narrow the number of applicants reviewed by human eyes. Most ATS are not programmed to scan for acronyms, so to make sure your resume makes it into human hands, spell out all acronyms, even those in wide usage within the field.
Don’t assume the first person reading your resume for a cybersecurity position has any idea what you do. Explain anything you think a person with no background in your field might not understand. This will ensure that all members of the hiring team understand the value you can bring to their organization.
4. References? Don’t Even Mention Them
Don’t include your references, or even the phrase “references available upon request,” on your resume.
What to Emphasize
1. The Recent Graduate
If you don’t have much experience, avoid a chronological organizational structure that might emphasize your inexperience. Instead lead with your education, followed by a skills section that combines skills and knowledge gained in the classroom and the work world.
In addition to certifications and technical competencies, highlight soft skills (such as problem solving and communication) to set yourself apart from other entry-level applicants.
2. The Mid-Career Shifter
If you are looking to leverage experience from another field, you’ll need to begin your resume for a cybersecurity position by crafting a Professional Objective that explains how your existing skills in systems administration, for example, will allow you to excel in a security role. Instead of leading with your work history, highlight parallel competencies in sections like “Accomplishments” and “Skills” using bullet lists and keywords directly from the job ad.
3. The Experienced Cyber Security Expert
If you are seeking a more senior role, it may be tempting to emphasize your business or management knowledge, but cybersecurity is one field where you should always lead with your technical accomplishments, skills, and certifications. The final third of your resume can be used to highlight soft skills that can help you stand out from the crowd, but leading with non-technical skills might put you out of the running.
Since cybersecurity is such a skills-driven field, a functional resume will be more effective than a chronological resume, regardless of your depth of experience. You will likely have lots of skills and accomplishments to choose from, so be disciplined about filtering your experience to avoid large blocks of text.
What to Modify
1. Replace Paragraphs with Bullet Lists
Try not to present your experience in the form of lengthy paragraphs or long lists of skills. Instead, separate different aspects of your experience into bullet lists and be as concise as possible.
2. Craft Your Keywords
Because many employers use ATS that only recognize exact keywords, it’s essential that your resume use the same wording as the job ad to clear this first obstacle. For cybersecurity positions, try to target 10-12 keywords from the job description and find ways to describe your accomplishments, skills, and job functions using the same vocabulary.
3. Optimize Your Advantage
In addition to perfecting your resume for a cybersecurity position, be aware that there are many tools available to help you optimize your in-demand skill set. Cyberseek, for example, provides job seekers with information to help navigate entry into the field and outlines the skills and certifications needed to take advantage of opportunities and advance your career to the next level.
LiveCareer has been helping job seekers build stronger resumes and cover letters since 2005. Access a wide variety of resume templates to work from, or put our resume builder to use, and get step-by-step assistance in constructing a top-notch resume in no time at all.