Cybersecurity is a career field full of smart people with a wide variety of deeply technical skills. It can be intimidating for career changers. There is a key skill that you can bring to cybersecurity, which will help set you apart from your peers. It’s a skill that some of the most experienced and technical cybersecurity professionals don’t have. That skill is a strong communications ability.
Communications can easily sound like a soft skill with limited value in cybersecurity, but it’s actually quite valuable. In particular, skills related to writing and public speaking are important. If you have a strong communications background, highlight it on your resume and in interviews.
The ability to write well is not a trivial skill. Sure, we write things all the time… emails, chat messages, and notes. Once you get in the realm of writing formal reports or briefings, two things will become apparent. First, formal writing is a very different skill, than everyday writing. Second, many (or perhaps, most) cybersecurity professionals are not exceedingly not writers.
That deficit provides an opportunity for you. There are a wide variety of written products, which cybersecurity teams produce. They span from tactical incident or intelligence reports to strategic update reports to the Board of Directors. You can stand out, if you have the ability to write about technical events in plain business English (or relevant language).
Cybersecurity teams need people to communicate inside and outside of their organizations verbally. It can be as simple as running working group meetings or as high-profile as briefing executive leadership. This is all public speaking and not everyone is comfortable with it.
Public speaking skills provide a way to differentiate yourself. Being the person who regularly briefs on behalf of your team, would increase your value to your manager and raise your profile in an organization.
Communicating Your Communications Skills
There is always going to be an opportunity for cybersecurity professionals with strong communication skills. How do you leverage your communications skills when applying for your first cybersecurity job—which may not list communications skills are a requirement?
You can reference your writing and speaking skills on your resume. Refer to written products you’ve been responsible for, like analytical reports or senior leadership updates. It’s a bit harder to reference public speaking skills on your resume. However, you can explicitly mention writing and public speaking in the Skills section of your resume.
During your interviews is a great opportunity to highlight your communication skills. There’s a good chance your interviewers won’t ask you about them. That’s okay. Like any other key attribute you want to highlight, find a way to weave it into the conversation naturally. While communication skills likely isn’t the key attribute that hiring managers are looking for in most positions, they help differentiate you from the competition.
At some point down the road having strong communicators on her team will make the hiring manager’s life easier. If you get the hiring manager to think about that during your interview, you’ve just earned yourself a competitive advantage.