Landing a Job and Getting Paid Well For It [Part 2/5]

If you weren’t already aware, cybersecurity pays well and the cybersecurity industry is woefully understaffed. Professionals predict there to be 3.5 million unfilled cyber security jobs by 2021. This means applicants have a great opportunity to get paid well and negotiate their compensation.

Once you’ve gotten your job offer documents, here are some things to look for and pay attention to…



If it hasn’t already been communicated to you directly, make sure you check your hiring packet for verbiage defining the position and how you will be paid. The most common types of pay structures are hourly, salary, and contract work.

Hourly is exactly as it sounds, you’ll log your hours at work and be paid a set amount per hour for the time worked. Full-time hourly positions will also pay you overtime if you work more than 40 hours a week, as dictated by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Overtime pay is at minimum 1.5x your base hourly pay for every hour of overtime. In cases when your job may have project crunch (think the video games industry), this can be ideal. As a full time employee (defined generally as working 36 to 40 hours a week), you must be offered full benefits from your company by law.

Salaried jobs are also straightforward. You are offered a fixed amount of money (pre-tax) that you will likely be paid in bimonthly checks throughout the year. The benefit of this structure is knowing you will get the same paycheck regardless of lost time due to a project falling through, illness, time off, etc. The biggest downside is that you are considered an “exempt employee,” and your company is under no obligation to pay you overtime for work over 40 hours a week. As a full-time employee, you must be offered full benefits by the company.

If you’re being hired on as an independent contractor, you should be aware that you do not have the same legal rights as full-time employees. To summarize easily:

“An employer is required to pay its hourly employees minimum wages and overtime wages, but contractors don’t have to be paid any specific amount. Employers that provide benefits to employees do not have to provide those benefits to contractors. An employer is required to deduct payroll taxes from the pay of an employee. No payroll taxes are deducted from money paid to a contractor.”

You will still have to contribute to FICA (Social Security) or MEDFICA (Medicare) from a Self Employment (SE) tax and you also aren’t guaranteed benefits. If the hiring packet says you’re a contractor and doesn’t list any benefits, don’t assume that this is something you’ll be told about later. Additionally, get information about the project you will work on, the expectations of the work, and how long you’re being hired for. Use this information to search for similar positions’ average salaries and ensure that you’re not being taken advantage of.


For salaried employees, there are often some kind of bonuses offered for employees who excel in their positions. Depending on the bonus structure, this money may be earned in different ways:

Quarterly/Annual performance bonuses are your standard “let’s review your work at the company, and we will pay you extra based on the results.” Your employer will likely have a strict metric for measuring this performance, whether it be projects completed, hours worked, sales revenue, etc. These bonuses may be calculated from both personal performance and overall company performance based on revenue projections. Companies who commit to annual performance bonuses usually use this tactic to keep employees around longer, as many are reluctant to leave before collecting an end of year bonus.

Spot bonuses are generally awarded to employees who went above and beyond their job description to benefit the company. These bonuses have no set amount and are not guaranteed. As they are up to the discretion of the supervisor and don’t have the same structure as quarterly or annual bonuses, payouts have a higher likelihood to be influenced by internal favoritism. If you’re a chronic overachiever, this may be your lucky day.

Referral Bonuses are for employees who suggest candidates for the hiring process who stay in their position for at least a few months. Sometimes companies will raise the bonus amount if you end up referring a candidate for a position that’s harder to fill. Of course, this type of of bonus does require you to know many potential candidates for a position who have a chance at getting hired. Maybe it’s not so bad to keep in contact with your NCL teammates in the long run, is it?

As a fun side note, there is a possibility that your company has signed up for a fellow employee recognition program like Bonusly. Bonusly is a platform that allows other employees to reward their co-workers for a job well done with points that can be redeemed for gift cards to their store of choice. Of course, this might heavily skew rewards to folks who are particularly popular around the office for one reason or another. If you’re a social butterfly with a good work ethic this might work out well for you. This post is #notsponsored, I just thought it was a fun li’l tidbit.

Path for Promotion

When taking on a role at a company, you should always understand how promotions are considered. Are they determined by annual performance reviews, or are you promoted at your supervisor’s discretion? For either option, make sure that that the benchmarks for promotion are clear and well defined.

If you’re applying for a job where you intend to stay in the same position for a long period of time, ask at what interval job performance reviews happen and when raises are considered. The more experience you have in a position, the more you’re worth. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where you’ve been working a job for a year and a half with no clear understanding of when you might get a raise.

The Non-Compete Clause

“In contract law, a non-compete clause, or covenant not to compete, is a clause under which one party agrees not to enter into or start a similar profession or trade in competition against another party.”

Essentially, a non-compete clause ensures for the company that you won’t take any of their proprietary information (knowledge on the content of their contracts, their clients, their business practices, etc.) and leave with that information to help a competitor or create your own competing firm.

Does that mean that you won’t be able to move to a different company doing similar work? Well, it depends. Companies can invoke this non-compete clause if you move to a direct competitor to work in a similar role. Does it happen often? Unless you’re in a high-level role or had access to extremely confidential information, you’re probably fine, but you shouldn’t take this for granted.

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