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Leveraging LinkedIn to Break into Cybersecurity

David Meece is an award-winning cybersecurity practitioner and book author. He has a combined 12 years of experience in performing Cybersecurity awareness, Identity Access Management, Intrusion Detection and vulnerability research, and virus removal. He holds a Master’s of Science degree in Information Systems Management and has a wide array of skills ranging from teaching to vulnerability management. He is an active member and contributor in WiCyS, Simply Cyber, Bsides, and many other groups within the Cybersecurity community.

Doing the Research to Find Your Dream Cybersecurity Role

Getting Started: The cybersecurity industry is huge: there are so many different sectors to choose from. I typically advise recent graduates to find a focus and really dig in and learn as much as possible about one thing in cybersecurity. For instance, I tell folks to either pick defensive (blue team) or offensive (red team) or GRC (Governance Risk and Compliance) I would say pick whichever one of these areas of cybersecurity you enjoy the most and come up with a study plan.

The first thing I recommend for making this plan is to pick three to five companies that you want to work for in the cybersecurity industry. The next step is to find folks on LinkedIn who are already in that dream position that you want to transition into. For instance, this could be an SOC analyst, Penetration tester, GRC analyst or other roles at your targeted companies. I recommend reaching out to folks and simply asking for a 15-minute virtual coffee chat with you to learn about the position. By doing this you can pick their brains about day-to-day tasks the positions entail. Use these relationships to learn what types of tools and soft skills are needed to succeed in your desired position. It's also important to find out what they like and dislike about the job. This is important in the discovery phase of choosing your career path.

Personally, I have had great success by reaching out and asking for 15-minute virtual coffee chats. The questions I mentioned are very open-ended and get interesting responses. Another great way to leverage LinkedIn is to reach out directly to hiring managers and recruiters to gain more information and details about the position. Oftentimes, job titles aren’t accurate. By reaching straight out to folks you can make sure of the exact job requirements. This will help you prepare for the interview and give you an advantage over other candidates that apply.

Some Thoughts on Cybersecurity Learning

Something I have personally learned is finding out what career path to take is half the battle. The good news is once you figure out exactly what you want to do, you can become more focused on that role. For example, during my journey I discovered I wanted to become a SOC analyst and that became my focus area. In order to achieve this goal, I started studying on platforms such as LetsDefend, Rangeforce, TryHackMe, and multiple blue team resources each day. I always recommend starting out with free resources first such as the platforms and learning as much as possible before spending money on certifications. 

I recommend studying CompTIA Security+ for obtaining a good baseline of knowledge. Keep in mind even if you can’t afford to get the Security + certification right now (learning how to apply the knowledge learned) from the book is the most important part. You can always get the certification in the future, especially if you need to save money. However, keep in mind some certifications are not as good as others depending on geographical locations so be sure to do research to make sure how relevant whichever certification you are studying is before pursuing it. 

Further, I would like to give you some interview tips. Always be sure to talk about any home Cybersecurity labs or any skillsets you may have that can transfer over to cybersecurity. Also, be sure you are watching Cybersecurity podcast each day where you can talk about that inside of interviews, as well. I believe going the extra mile and showing your true passion can go a long ways and make you stand out above other candidates.

Finally, do not sleep on soft skills, (soft skills) will always transfer over to Cybersecurity. For instance, if you worked in restaurants or retail store knowing how to talk to customers goes a long way. Also, being able to quickly find resources is a big plus in cyber. My last piece of advice do NOT be afraid to reach out to other cybersecurity professionals on LinkedIn for help when you need it. There are so many people that will help you if you ask them politely. 

Ways LinkedIn Can Help Your Cybersecurity Career Journey

I highly recommend posting on LinkedIn at least a few times per week about what you are learning every day. This shows hiring managers you are dedicated to self-learning and posting each day gives you more visibility on LinkedIn for hiring managers and recruiters to find you. 

If you are interested in becoming a SOC analyst, Pentester, Cybersecurity analyst, or simply would like to advance your career please check out my 100-day Cybersecurity challenge  #cybertechdave100daysofcyberchallenge 

There are only 3 simple rules for the challenge. 

Rule #1: Write a post on your LinkedIn page every day for 100 days. For instance, this could be a new threat intelligence tool you learned about or something from an article or book you read. 

Rule #2 : Be sure to include my hashtag #cybertechdave100daysofcyberchallenge inside each post you make on LinkedIn. 

Rule #3: (Inside of Day 1 post) tell a friend in your network about the 100-day challenge and see if they would like to join the challenge with you.

I mostly designed this challenge for folks who are looking for their first position to break into the industry. However, it’s great for all levels of professionals to brush up on their skills. It doesn’t matter if you have (0) years of experience or (20) years in the field, ALL levels are welcome to participate. I also designed this challenge to help folks get out of their comfort zone and get more exposure to recruiters and hiring managers.

 If you have any questions, do not hesitate to inbox me on LinkedIn. I’m a teacher at heart and want to see you succeed! I’m always open to new connections.  David Meece – Cybertech Dave

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