How to Use NCL to Influence and Improve Your Résumé and Professional Appearance


If your start in cybersecurity was like mine, you had absolutely no experience or any skills that you could put on a résumé verified by an employer to get your foot in the door or to land your first interview. My résumé began as a blank slate and I’m guessing, yours did too. But, that’s OK! Everybody starts from the bottom, and incorporating different aspects of the National Cyber League (NCL) Games is a great building block to put your passion onto paper so that a potential employer can see your excitement, your worth, your willingness to learn, and your drive.

Remember, you are allowed to use the NCL on your résumé, but you cannot portray yourself as an employee of the National Cyber League or of Cyber Skyline. If you are curious about exactly how to word this on your résumé or LinkedIn, the TL;DR is you are permitted to write that you participated in the games and were a competitor, but you cannot portray yourself as an employee. For further reading on this, check out this blog post here, and remember, if you have any questions, the Ambassador team is always here to help out and can assist with the wording.

So, how do I put the NCL on my résumé?

Each category of the NCL relates to specific skills and tools used in the industry that, after participating in your very first game, you are able to place on your résumé as having had exposure to. For example, in Log Analysis, depending on the tool you decided to utilize to complete the challenges—such as Splunk, Microsoft Excel (if you have great Excel-fu like Cryptokait) or a strong fondness of command line tools—you can add a section to your résumé regarding the tools you know and that you have a working knowledge of. As someone who has reviewed thousands of résumés, potential employers really want to see that information. If you have spent time in the industry, remember to include tools in your work history details as well. For a broader category, such as Enumeration and Exploitation, it may be a bit difficult to specify a tool, but, that is when having a section regarding languages that you know, or have experience understanding, comes in handy. On my résumé (pictured below) I have a section for multiple languages. Not only does it relate to spoken languages such as Spanish, English, and Sarcasm, it also details programming languages. That way, I can show an employer that not only do I speak more than one language, I also have a knowledge of Python, Ruby, JavaScript, and C++ to varying degrees.

Other categories such as Password Cracking and Open Source Intelligence are a bit mysterious in the ways you can showcase those skills. For most jobs, you will not spend 8 hours a day doing OSINT work or using Hashcat to crack passwords; more often than not, you may only get to exercise those skills weekly or less. While you do not get to use those daily, some of the broader tools and techniques that you learn may apply to other areas of your job. For example, when working in a security operations center, also known as a SOC, it is not uncommon to have to do a bit of open source intelligence to find information on an IP address, file hash, or potentially even a suspicious user to verify who they are and if they even work for the company you are assisting. While some techniques, tools you learn, and skills you pick up while participating in the NCL may not be used daily, they are great to have in your back pocket and to put on your résumé to give your potential employer insight into what you’re working through and what you are hoping to master.

Some places where you will be submitting a résumé may restrict your résumé to one page so, remember, creating either a website on something like WordPress or using a free code and document repository such as Github would likely be a great way to document your progress on projects or learning objectives as you work through different challenges that come up when learning different tools or attack/defense techniques. This way, potential employers can take a deeper look at you, rather just seeing what is on one page; this gives them a chance to get to know the real you and areas you’re passionate about. Remember, no write ups of the NCL challenges are allowed; however, writing about your first experience with a tool is always permitted, without mentioning a specific challenge. Seeing somebody write about the unique aspects of a tool or errors they encountered and how they were able to troubleshoot are great details to write down so that a potential employer may spend time ahead of an interview to learn how your thinking process works and how you troubleshoot because—no matter what field you work in—I promise you there will always be an abundance of problems.

My final suggestion, and, some may say, the most important is to MAKE SURE to include your Scouting Report with your résumé, if you are permitted more than one page of résumé. Attach it behind your résumé, and make an annotation in your section regarding NCL that there is an attached Scouting Report with specialized information regarding your participation. If a multiple page résumé is not permitted, reach out to the employer, let them know you would like to send it along, and get permission to attach it to your résumé, or send it along with your cover letter. If you participated in the Team Game as well, make sure to include your Team Game Scouting Report as that will also give potential employers an insight into whether or not you work well with a team and how you perform when collaborating with others.

Remember, if you get lost, the Ambassadors are here to help you. We’re all rooting for you to succeed and make your mark stepping into the industry as we have had a chance to do. 

Happy month of Shenanigans, 

Xoxo MistressVenom (formerly known as Gossip Girl)

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