I’m currently unemployed and would like to find a job in the data security area. I’m currently enrolled in a part-time IT degree program at a local college, but really need a job now to pay the bills.
My first thought is that you should take the fastest path to new employment. The good news is that a presentation made by Cisco recently quoted a study that said the technology industry is highly understaffed in data security type jobs. So from an employment perspective, the data security area is definitely continuing to grow and worthwhile to pursue.
In technology jobs, companies generally hire people to fill a specific technical need. Therefore, gaining a deep knowledge of a specific technology will be a big advantage to you. The reason is that once hired, you can hit the ground running, rather than having to be trained to perform needed tasks. As a result, the more you know on the topic, the more desirable you will be to potential employers.
Regarding the profession of data/information security, it is a very wide field and specialization has become the best way to find a job. It would be worthwhile for you to take a personal inventory of what specific security technologies you know from your college classes, prior employment, and/or personal experimentation. For example, having any hands-on experience configuring new Cisco equipment security options or configuring corporate firewall software products could be of great advantage. If you don’t currently have any expertise in a specific area or technology, find a technology that is of interest to you, is in demand, and has as many free or low cost options as possible to learn about it.
Then, compare your technical knowledge to open jobs in your geographic area and match your knowledge and skills to the hottest local technologies by looking on Monster.com, CareerBuilder, CraigsList and other online job boards.
An additional way to increase your knowledge on the local job market and get the scoop on unadvertised jobs in these technologies is to call the local vendor sales representatives. For example, if you have expertise in Cisco firewall configuration, call the local Cisco sales office and ask them who they know. This is a simple trick, but it can be very effective. Who knows, maybe the vendor itself will need a local tech person.
Once you pick a specific technology, read and learn everything you can about it, including free vendor instructional videos, YouTube tutorials, and a MOOC type class if you can find one.
Also, find a few very active LinkedIn groups, general discussion boards, and local special interest groups that discuss your topic and participate heavily. This will enhance your knowledge of the technology, illustrate your value to potential employers, and help you make personal contacts that could assist you in your job search.
Lastly, if a certification exists in the specific technology you are pursuing, passing the exam helps you illustrate your interest and knowledge of the topic, which can only be to your advantage.
Good luck in your job search, continue your part-time degree if possible, data security is an important and growing professional area.
If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.
Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.