There are 209,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and a shortage, globally, of one million cybersecurity professionals according to the Cisco 2015 Annual Report. With these staggering numbers, it’s clear why a career in cybersecurity is gaining interest.
Demand in this field is booming and making the right contacts can help optimize opportunities. Networking via LinkedIn can help facilitate those connections. Ninety-eight percent of recruiters and 85 percent of hiring managers say they use LinkedIn to identify or research candidates.
So, whether you are currently pursuing your degree or have already graduated, you’ll want to make sure you build a LinkedIn profile that will get you noticed and associated with other cybersecurity professionals.
Follow these nine steps for building your LinkedIn profile and using it to connect within the cybersecurity field.
If you aren’t already on LinkedIn, your first step is to register. Go to LinkedIn.com, enter your name, email, create your password, and click on “Join Now.” You’ll then enter some basic information such as country, zip code, status (employed, job seeker, or student), job title, industry, pick the type of account you wish to have and then you’ll be ready to start creating the primary content of your profile.
2. Upload a Professional Photo
Your profile photo should be a tasteful, appropriate headshot – of yourself only – in business attire. This is your first impression – make it a good one. Some people get professional headshots; however, if you can have a co-worker or friend snap a few headshot photos of you that can work just as well. You will want to make sure the photo you post is clear and represents your best self.
3. Enter your Profile Basics.
The next step to tackle is the core of your profile. In this section, you will have the opportunity to enter your education, work experience, skills and other optional areas such as volunteer experience, organizations you are a part of, and certifications. Stick with adding information that is the most relevant or would be valued by a potential employer.
In the education section, there is a field for activities/societies and a description field. These are great open text fields to enter any relevant cybersecurity groups you are/were a part of or other relative cybersecurity experience gained while in school. For the work experience section, provide details about your past and current roles, along with information that will help you establish yourself as a cybersecurity professional. Be sure to include pertinent job titles, responsibilities, accomplishments, and projects.
You will also have the opportunity to enter specific skills – an important section that will help highlight your cybersecurity related areas of expertise. Your connections will then be able to endorse you for these skills. This information could be valuable to recruiters, hiring managers, and even future co-workers
Your profile should reflect you professionally, personally, and truthfully in the best light possible. Don’t rush – take some time to evaluate your professional experiences and goals to best sculpt your LinkedIn profile.
4. Write Your Summary
The summary section is similar to the summary you might include on your resume. It should be brief, yet capture your key strengths/accomplishments and current career goals. Although this section is only a few sentences, you’ll want to take your time and put some thought into crafting it. Your LinkedIn profile gives you a chance to stand out to recruiters and hiring managers. Give them something worth reading to make them want to meet you.
5. Set Up Your Unique LinkedIn URL
Having a custom URL makes you more discoverable. Think of it as online marketing for yourself. You want to make your unique URL your name or a professional variation of your name. In some cases, hiring managers may even ask for your LinkedIn profile URL.
The basic LinkedIn URL contains letters and numbers after your name, like this one for Mark Cuban: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-cuban-06a0755b. A better URL is one that is personalized for you, such as www.linkedin.com/in/janedoe. You can set up your custom URL in the edit profile section by clicking in the gray box below your profile picture.
6. Build Your Connections List
Now that your LinkedIn profile is set-up, the next step is to build your network. LinkedIn makes this easy by offering to pull in your email contacts or you can search for people to connect with by name. Start with the easy connections first: friends, family, past and present co-workers, classmates, and professors to get the ball rolling. The bigger your network, the more likely you are to discover – and be discovered – for a new career opportunity.
7. Acquire Recommendations
Often overlooked, recommendations can be a game changer for your profile. Unlike an endorsement, a recommendation is a public personal note from someone you have crossed paths with professionally.
Consider asking someone on your connections list for a recommendation. You will want to approach someone you have worked well with and feel comfortable asking. Previous or current supervisors, professors, colleagues, and clients are all great options. Another way to get the ball rolling would be to offer one of your connections a well-written recommendation. Oftentimes, the recipient is willing to return the favor. Recommendations help convey credibility and authority to potential hiring managers and recruiters.
8. Get Social In LinkedIn Groups
A group is a private discussion community within a specific industry or topic. For example, ISCN is dedicated to careers in IT and Information Security and has more than 50,000 LinkedIn members. To be part of ISCN and most other groups, you have to ask to join. A group administrator grants you membership. Joining groups expands your networking capability and puts you within reach of thousands of professionals connected to the cybersecurity industry.
Those new to the field can begin by searching for groups that are relevant to the area of online cyber security they want to pursue (government, corporate, or military, for instance). Here are a few suggestions:
- Insider Threat Management
- Cybersecurity Network Jobs
- Digital Forensics & Cybersecurity Global Recruitment
- Security Bloggers
- Security Intelligence
Admins typically approve your membership within a day or two. Once you’re in, you’ll have access to all of the member content, including discussions of best practices, industry information, and industry and technology trends.
Etiquette varies from group to group, so be sure to read the “group rules” carefully. Staying active and posting within the group’s guidelines are great ways to meet professionals in your industry and to continue to build your connections across LinkedIn.
As with other social media platforms, you can “like” or comment on articles you find interesting and relevant. Other members see your name and start getting to know you. When posting, commenting, or responding to any content, remember to be appropriate and professional.
9. Be Active
Once you’re done setting up your profile, it’s important to stay active. Post relevant and informative articles, comment and/or like other posts. Continue to build your network. Be consistent and you are more likely to have a strong LinkedIn presence and network.
About Maryville University’s Online Cybersecurity Degree
Maryville University offers both undergraduate and master’s degrees in cybersecurity, studying topics such as cryptography, cloud security, incident handling, and mobile device handling. Students can learn from anywhere, on any device, with the Maryville Virtual Lab as their training ground.
More information is available at Maryville’s online cybersecurity website.