Transferring Your Non-Tech Skills to a Cyber Security Job

Many of us find ourselves struggling over the skills we don’t have for the job we want. That struggle can lead us to the path of giving up.

In 2018, after nine years in the financial industry, I decided to transition to cybersecurity in the investigations field. It was a difficult time because I had no experience in cybersecurity. I thought that I had to start over and take a pay cut. But, thankfully, that was not the case.

I started looking at positions in cybersecurity that I was interested in and looking at the descriptions to see which skills I already had from my previous career. I transferred many of my non-tech skills and worked on the ones that I needed to acquire.

When we apply to a new job and build our résumé, we tend to forget the importance of transferring our non-tech skills. We think that some of those skills are not relevant to the job we are applying for.

The process I’m about to explain is the one I took to transfer my non-technical skills to a cybersecurity job. I can assure you that this process can help with your journey into a cybersecurity career. 

First: RÉSUMÉ

Your résumé will help you understand which skills you have, which skills you don’t have, and allow you to highlight your non-technical skills. Also, it’s essential to update your résumé at least once or twice a year. 

  1. You must work on your résumé to ensure that you have listed all the positions you’ve worked. (This could be volunteer, internships, or personal courses if you’ve never worked). Those positions should have a list of duties you performed while working at that job, a time frame, and location (optional). 
  2. You should have a Skills section with all the skills you’ve acquired throughout the years that have been obtained by working or through education.
  3.  Your Education and Professional Achievements sections should also be included as part of your résumé. 

Second: SEARCH FOR POSITIONS YOU ARE INTERESTED IN

You will need to start searching for positions in cybersecurity you are interested in. For example, if you are interested in a position in IT Risk Compliance, you want to search for jobs pertaining to that field. Gather about four positions and read the descriptions of the skills required to perform that job.

Third: MAKE A LIST

Now that you have your résumé updated and have a description of the potential jobs that interest you, it’s time to make a list of the skills you have and those you don’t. 

From the description of those four jobs you are interested in, make a list with two sections:

  • one named “Skills I Have” and
  • the other named “Skills I Need.”

The “Skills I Have” section will be the technical and non-technical skills you have at the time. When this section is complete, you will see that your non-technical skills are as important as your technical ones. That is because skills like sales, customer service, communication, problem-solving, and loss control are as valuable as technical skills. And those non-technical skills can be transferred to almost any job. 

Also, by having this list, you will be able to mark off the skills you’ve acquired over time, and it serves as a great reminder to add the new skills to your résumé.

The process above helped me land my first job as an investigator for the public sector. It only took me a month to get that job. I had no experience in the cybersecurity field. All I had was the list I made and an hour a night working on those skills. 

My experience makes me believe that if I did it, then anyone can do it. It only takes perseverance, determination, and guidance. 

For a complete tutorial on how to build a resume, visit ZeroTrail Dojo IGTV.

Taisa here!
I just want to drive home how important your non-tech skills really are!

When you’re being interviewed for a job, your interviewer knows that skills can be trained, character can’t. You’re not expected to know everything for an entry-level position, but the company you’re going to work for does want to know: (1) you’re going to work hard to learn what you don’t know, (2) you take initiative to solve problems, and (3) you’ll be a good influence on your team.

These are skills you can demonstrate through your previous work and/or school achievements and your can-do spirit (e.g., “I know that I can figure that out, Mr./Ms. Interviewer—let me tell you how I’d go about finding the answer! It’s a lot like something I did previously in NCL!” [Now is a good time to resurrect the tale of CryptoKait’s interview with Google.]).

Here are a few statistics to meditate on:

“Organizations have consistently noted that soft skills like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving are crucial for new hires. One survey by the security company Tripwire found that 100 percent of respondents considered soft skills to be important when hiring for a security team, and 21 percent even went so far as to say that they were more important than hard skills. Many graduates emerge from cybersecurity education programs without these soft skills. In our survey of IT decisionmakers, CSIS found that 70 percent considered communication to be a scarce skill set among cybersecurity graduates, and more than half struggled to find candidates strong in collaboration and team leadership.”CSIS

“There are plenty of Women in Tech talks that I have been to that say men will apply to jobs that they have about 60% of the requirements and women will not apply for jobs unless they have 100% of the requirements.”CryptoKait

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