What Makes a Great Cybersecurity Job Candidate in the COVID-19 Era?

In a field that grows and changes as quickly as cybersecurity, the exciting and harsh reality is that it’s always a good idea to have your CV up to date. People gain new expertise, companies switch directions, and new opportunities arise. So, if this is your field, the matchmaking process with prospective employers is likely to be a frequent occurrence throughout your career.

If you’re looking to move your career forward with a new cybersecurity job, you may already know you have what it takes to thrive in this dynamic field. But what are employers looking for in a job candidate, and how has the coronavirus outbreak changed that reality? 

Keep reading for an inside look at what qualities make for a top-notch cybersecurity employee and how you can show companies what you have to offer.

 

Looking for a detective and a problem solver

While cybersecurity companies need to fill a wide variety of roles with varied requirements, at their core these companies have a more basic need: to offer a reliable, high-quality security product or service. And ensuring that quality requires a certain kind of employee.

“What qualities do cybersecurity team members need? Creativity. The ability to prioritize data by making very informed and fast conclusions. Agility. The desire to work with state-of-the-art technology and to protect customers against threats,” says our CEO, Sharon Wagner. “The analogy I like to use is that, above all, they need to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.”

Reflecting Sixgill’s company values and outlook, Sharon points out that job titles and academic degrees don’t tell the whole story here, and that attitude matters when it comes to recruiting new team members. “We pride ourselves on having an open-door policy,” he notes. “Rather than working as a strict hierarchy, we encourage all employees to share their ideas and to be open to hearing others’ ideas – including opposing viewpoints. And that kind of open-mindedness is something we really look for in job candidates.”

 

Seeking out a team player – especially in light of COVID-19

Of course, offering a great product or service is only one part of running a successful cybersecurity company. In addition to the researchers, analysts, and developers who often work behind the scenes, businesses like Sixgill also rely on teams that are far more customer-facing, such as marketing, customer support/success, and sales.

While these less technically oriented roles require diverse skill sets, there are certain qualities that are essential in almost every case. “If once upon a time it was a cliché to say we look to hire team players, in the COVID-19 era that characteristic is an absolute must,” says our CMO, Meira Primes, who this year has built virtually Sixgill’s entire Marketing and Sales Development Department while under stringent restrictions on on-site work. “When looking for the best candidates to meet our needs, we want professionals we know will share our goals and stay focused on the endgame. They need to be smart, ambitious, loyal, fun, creative, and strong communicators – but that’s not enough. They also need to really be able to work both independently and as part of a team.”

And how does that focus on teamwork play out after hiring? One example that Meira points to is Sixgill’s tradition of weekly virtual happy hours that keep employees across departments connected even while working from home. “That kind of bonding is essential, especially in light of COVID-19,” she states. “I think people work harder when they feel a connection to their teammates, and that commitment goes in both directions. Each employee can see that they’re part of a team that supports them and helps them to thrive, and that motivates them to take an active role in making sure the company keeps growing and moving forward.”

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Looking for the right fit for both company and employee

While it goes without saying that cybersecurity companies want to hire highly motivated employees, that’s not just a matter of finding the job candidates with the strongest track record of success in previous roles. Picking a team member likely to stay motivated and thrive over the long term also involves considering whether the company can meet the employee’s needs, and not only whether the employee can meet the company’s needs. 

We at Sixgill want the interview process to be one of mutual vetting. Since I joined Sixgill this past March – three days into a lockdown that forced employees to work from home – I have had the privilege of leading the hiring process as we have roughly doubled the size of our team. Along the way, I’ve focused both on finding highly qualified applicants and on finding candidates who will really benefit from the meaningful learning and career advancement opportunities Sixgill offers our team members. 

The job interview plays a major role in that process. We interview candidates, but they also interview us. Just like it’s in each candidate’s best interest to make sure they can meet the job’s requirements, it’s important for us to make sure we can offer them the growth opportunities they’re looking for. It’s always an encouraging sign when I hear a job candidate asking me questions about the work environment and the company culture during an interview, because it shows that they’re taking seriously the question of whether we’re a strong match for each other.

Finding the right match also includes considering whether the employee identifies strongly with the company’s mission. In Sixgill’s case, it is important for new employees to really relish the opportunity not just to learn and solve problems, but to use their skills to keep clients safe. In other words, we are looking for employees who will find it rewarding to know that they’re really helping people.

 

Making the job search a success

How can you show a cybersecurity company you have what it takes to succeed in this exciting field? While every position (as well as every business) has somewhat different requirements, there are some characteristics that make for strong cybersecurity employees across the board. Companies like Sixgill want to know they’re hiring employees who are curious, diverse, open to sharing ideas, and – especially in the COVID-19 era – ready and eager to be team players. 

But it’s not just about showing companies that you’re the ideal job candidate. It’s also important to find the right combination of company mission, workplace culture, and growth opportunities to meet your needs. By using the job interview as an opportunity for you and the company to learn about each other – and not just a chance to show them what you have to offer – you can maximize your chance of making your job search a success. 

Because, at the end of the day, a cybersecurity hiring decision is only successful if it’s the right fit for both the employee and the company.


To see what opportunities are currently available at Sixgill, please visit our Careers webpage.

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