Wednesday, October 12, 2022

We Need Cybersecurity Mentors

I received a job description from a recruiter recently, along with the request that if I knew anyone who fit the bill and was interested, could I please forward the job description to them. The recruiter was looking for someone at an entry-level, with 1 - 3 yrs of experience, and the listed salary was for a low six-figure salary.

However, the list of Essential Skills were (copy-paste, with a few modifications):

- Practical mobile phone forensic analyst skills on hardware and software.
- Ability to run network and sandbox analysis on Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, iOS, and other platforms.
- Ability to use compliers[sic] and other software analytical tools for different platforms.
- Strong in tools such as <list of tools> and other analysis tools.
- Strong TCP/UDP/IP networking and protocol understanding, how they work, what they do, and what ports they use.
- Strong communication skills to relate findings in an understandable and useful way.
- Strong self-disciplined and self-starter that can think outside of the box and bring fresh insight and experience to the team.
- Comfortable with Linux shell and common GNU utilities.
- Ability to analyze, summarize, visualize, and detect anomalies from raw network communications data in a clear and effective manner.

Yeah, okay. I saw it, too. 

First, "1 - 3 yrs" of experience, entry-level, but "Essential Skills" for the role cover mobile (hardware *and* software), Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, iOS, and "other platforms".

Then, the applicant needs to understand TCP, UDP, IP, and "the ports they use".

Yes, there was a misspelling.

The last thing I'll mention is that, again, this is an entry-level position, but looking to "bring fresh insight and experience to the team". If someone is entry-level, what *experience* are they bringing to the team?

Okay, just to be clear...this is NOT a post to bash the job description...not at all. I'm not interested in calling anyone out, or putting anyone on the spot. All of the above is meant solely to let others know, yes, I'm seeing the same things and having similar thoughts as you are, so you're not alone in that sense.

What this post is to say is that when someone who's entry-level, someone with 1 - 3 yrs of experience in the field sees a job description such as this, they're going to immediately look at it and not apply. "But...why", you ask? Because there's no way you're going to be able to fulfill the stated "essential skills" with under 3 yrs of experience. Even folks looking at this description with a dozen years of experience are going to know that you're not going to be able to attain an "essential" level of all of these skills.

Ultimately, what's going to come of job descriptions such as this will be continued, circular reporting on how there aren't enough skilled people in the industry to fill all of the open positions.

But there is a solution! If' you're new to the cybersecurity field and thinking about looking around for a new role, or if you're looking to get into the field, even as a transitioning veteran...find a mentor. Find someone you trust, someone you can engage with to help you navigate the myriad twists and turns of the maze. Find someone with more experience who can help you navigate job descriptions, certifications, etc., or even just help you figure out which area of "cybersecurity" might be the most interesting to you. 

Finding a mentor can help you get over what might be preventing or dissuading you from applying for the above described role. As an example, my reaction to the job description was to respond to the email, saying, "...I'm sorry, but this makes no sense to me...", and why. I wasn't expecting a response, but I did get one. The recruiter shared that they were most interested in filling an entry-level role, and the message was that the "essential skills" really weren't so "essential". As a result, I'd come back with the message, "yes, go ahead and apply."

So, again...getting into the cybersecurity field can be daunting., I take that back. Not "can be" It is daunting. There are so many options, so many opportunities, and the best way to go about deciphering and unraveling the process of getting into the field is to engage with someone who's already done it. If you're new to the field...a student, a transitioning vet, or if you're transitioning careers...reach out, engage, and find yourself a mentor. 

1 comment:

Greg M said...

The compliment to your advice of course is BE a mentor. I am a senior cyber professional at a global bank. One of the most rewarding parts of my role is being a mentor to interns, junior cyber professionals in our craft, and other up-and-coming leaders (not all are in cybersecurity). I learn from all of them. Give it a shot.