Leaving the Forces
by Luke C - Senior Cyber Security Consultant
One of the key elements of any job in Cyber Security is being able to research information for yourself. Being good at finding information for yourself using whatever means available instead of depending on others is an invaluable skill within cyber security. As a starting exercise, prior to handing in your notice, I strongly advice researching the following:
- Industries – What type of industry you would like to work in.
- Roles – What type of roles are within that industry (Security Analyst, Penetration Testing, Pre-Sale, Engineering etc).
- Job locations – Search jobsites and LinkedIn for your desired industry in your (commutable) region and note them for future reference, also note which jobs are 100% remote. This will create a pool of potential companies you may be able to apply for a role with or approach nearer to your leaving date (recommend around 3 months) expressing an interest for a role within the company.
Start building your network as early as possible, whether that be digitally, like on LinkedIn, with your current and previous colleagues, or face-to-face at conferences/expo’s. I tried to attend as many recruitment fairs, security conferences and expo’s as possible during my resettlement period. This proved to be invaluable as I met many industry professionals who were kind enough to share advice and guidance on how to break into the cyber security industry. The two main individuals to note were a SOC manager of a global telecommunications company, who after a long discussion, offered to become my mentor through “projectfortis;” a service available to Service Leavers to put them in contact with ex-servicemen in the civilian world, and CND’s very own Andy Cuff, whom I hadn’t realised that I had previously met in person at a security expo. During my first discussion with Andy, he gave me some helpful advice, recommended courses and certifications to succeed in my resettlement.
LinkedIn Profile Tip
Create a LinkedIn profile and complete your “Skills & Endorsements” section before connecting to all your already established network. Your connections will be more inclined to endorse you for your skills immediately after connecting rather than later when they visit your profile.
Ex-military Mentors can be extremely helpful during the resettlement process as they have gone through the transition period themselves and understand the challenges you may encounter. Mentors don’t have to be through official means, they can be an old military college or simple a contact on LinkedIn who is willing to help. Don’t hesitate to reach out but do bare in mind they will likely have a very busy schedule so utilise the time they are willing to volunteer wisely, ask for advice and guidance but don’t expect them to do the work for you.
During the resettlement process one of the hardest things, I found was articulating my experience within the military and presenting this on a CV, although I did my best efforts to convert my military experience to civilian “jargon” there was some elements which remained “militarised”. My mentor was willing to take time out of his busy schedule to take teams call to discuss my resettlement worries and assisted in correcting some outstanding military terminology and offered suggestions, for me to take away and change, replacing them with the civilian counterpart. Having a peer review of a CV is massively beneficial.
Key point for CV’s: Do not lie on your CV! I have assisted in interviewing many candidates in the past who could not backup their claims on their CV’s. The CV will be used and referenced in the interview process.
Good recruiters are invaluable, build a rapport and be 100% honest with them. they are your best asset during the recruitment phase, and they will need to understand your full capability to find your perfect role. Having good recruiters, you who understand your capabilities and requirements will ensure that they do not oversell you, which should avoid the bad interview experiences and additionally they will make sure they don’t undersell you to help you manage and receive the desired salary expectations.
Your first job out of the military may not be your forever job. Your career is a marathon not a sprint. In the cyber security industry, I have experienced that it is very common for a high turnover of junior staff, this does not characterise the company as being bad, it is more so the nature of the industry and range of development opportunities available. Don’t be disheartened if staff are leaving as you’re joining. Cyber security is a diverse industry, analysts may join a company learn all they can and either promote internally given the opportunity or decide to move on to build a more diverse portfolio. Every company uses different tools and provides different service offerings, whether that be a Managed Detection and Response (MDR) providing level 1>3 monitoring services to multiple companies/customers or an internal security operations role where the role is protecting the company’s internal environment, all of which build your experience and increase your exposure and experience with different security threats.