EPISODE 22
Impress Us With Your Resume Skills Section
EPISODE 22
Impress Us With Your Resume Skills Section

IMPRESS US WITH YOUR RESUME SKILLS SECTION

About this episode

In this episode, we are focused on the ever-divisive question of the importance of certifications in the cybersecurity industry. The answer to this question has changed over time from certifications being unimportant, to them being extremely important, to well, it depends.

 

Certifications can be extremely important for several reasons, including their ability to help your resume get through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) filters used by the human resources and recruiting team, but they are not a silver bullet that will instantly land you a job.

 

As Jason Dion (Lead Instructor of Dion Training) shares with us in this episode, certifications can be your ticket to getting an interview, but they alone won’t get you the position. That said, without having that certification on your resume, you can easily be filtered out of consideration before a hiring manager even gets a chance to look over your resume. This makes having the right certifications and experience imperative if you want to land your dream cybersecurity position.

 

Just as a certification isn’t a substitute for a college degree, you will also learn that a college degree is not a substitution for having the right certifications. This is often not an “either-or” thing, but a “yes-and” type of thing that you must achieve for many cybersecurity positions.

 

What you’ll learn

  • Why certifications are important in the cybersecurity industry?
  • Are certifications or experience more important to a hiring manager?
  • Are certifications or college degrees more important to a hiring manager?
  • Which certifications should you be getting to advance in your career?
 

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Episode Transcript

Kip: 

Hi everyone. This is your cyber path. The podcast that helps you get your dream cybersecurity job. I’m Kip Boyle. I’m here with West Schreiner, and we are experienced hiring managers of cybersecurity professionals. And we want your feedback. So let us know. Do you have a question that you’d like us to answer on a future episode? Do you want to give us a comment? Tell us what’s on your mind. Just go to anchor.fm/yourcyberpath. And when you get there, you’re going to see a message button, click that, and then start talking. And we would love to hear from you. And here’s a listener request from James.

James: 

Hi Kip. My name is James. My question is regards to the federal and contracting side of the house with the DOD for IT cybersecurity professionals. If you have any tips tricks, or if there’s any way you can have somebody come on the show and talk about that side of the house for hiring practices instead of the more the public sector.

Kip: 

Thanks for asking James will be answering your question in an upcoming episode. OK. So today, we’re going to talk about the skills section of your resume, and we want you to nail that. So we’re going to talk with you about what goes in there, how much detail you should include. And I think really an interestingly, well, how do hiring managers evaluate that section?

Wes: 

You know, Kip, I off topic a little bit. I got to drive an excavator yesterday. I borrowed it.

Kip: 

Oh, back on the farm.

Wes: 

I borrowed it from my neighbor. I’ve never driven one before, unless if you count that time in high school, but let’s not talk about that here.

Kip: 

Oh, I’m going to put that on the list of things to talk about later, though.

Wes:

So anyway, this thing has more controls than I’m used to, and it was really fun and really hard at the same time think 3D video game. Right?

Kip:

I know people fly to Las Vegas just to be able to pay some money to operate this heavy gear.

Wes: 

Well, and we moved a lot of gravel that I didn’t have to use a shovel for. So that’s a good thing.

Kip: 

Yeah.

Wes: 

I’d say it was a success. My daughter drove it as well. The neighbor was not available to show me the controls. He just handed me a key and said good luck.

Kip: 

Oh my God, he really trusts you.

Wes:

I don’t have the skills to operate that thing in the beginning. I just sort of had to wing it. It was hard, and having the right skills for the job is really, really important. So today, when we’re talking about the skills section of the resume, we really want to make sure we’re accurately representing what our skills are because someone’s going to hand you the keys to their excavator. And if you run into the house, that’s a problem.

Kip: 

You could do a lot of damage. OK. That’s a wonderful concrete example of what we’re talking about here. That’s fantastic.

Wes: 

Last week we did the executive summary statement. We were talking to the executive and explaining what in three sentences, what we are, what we’re about, why we’re here, and where we’re going. In the skill section, we’re going to, we’re going to build a very specific set of things we want to talk about in the skill section.

Kip:

Right? Yeah. So, what you’re going to do then as you write this section is you’re asking yourself, what skills am I bringing to the table that are relevant to this position? And that’s one of the reasons why people advise job hunters to tailor their resumes for the position because that’s what’s going to set you up for success. So you want to list the skills that are directly relevant. And we’re going to go through this in a minute. You could also put in skills that are indirectly relevant. In other words, skills that you have that would transfer into the work. We sometimes call these parallel skills. And if you’re going to come out of, let’s say, accounting into cybersecurity, then you know, this is a really important part. These could be hard skills. These could be soft skills, and you want to get the mix, right? It’s really important.

Wes: 

You know, the interesting thing about that skill section is that this as the hiring manager, this is what tells me how you’re going to talk to your peers, both how you write it and how you speak about it will give me hints into what kind of person you will be inside the team.

Kip: 

I think that’s, that’s fascinating. And I have not heard very many people talk about this where the summary, right? The resume summary section is telling the hiring manager how you’re going to talk to their boss. Now we’ve got another section that’s going to tell the hiring manager how you’re going to talk to your peers. I think that’s, that’s fascinating. And lets, so let’s focus on that. So if a person just naturally feels on the job that they need to show everybody that they’re the smartest person in the room, we’re going to detect that in the skills section, right? Or that’s, that’s our chance of hiring managers to detect that. And if a person is feeling insecure about their abilities, and so maybe they’re not going to talk at all and undersell themselves on the job that has, this is the chance for that to come out to, for us to detect that. And so, that gets to imposter syndrome Just all kinds of things that, that could, that could cause less than stellar performance on the job.

Wes: 

Indeed, I once met with a fellow who had been at the same company for 30 years. He had been laid off and was looking for his next gig but didn’t have any experience interviewing or marketing himself. He had 30 years of quality experience at this company but couldn’t represent his skills. This fellow came to me for coffee, and we had a nice conversation. It was not an interview. It was a coffee conversation. He emphasized I’m an honest, good worker. I’m trustworthy. I’m loyal.

Kip: 

Nothing wrong with that, but.

Wes: 

These are all good traits, but he hadn’t thought through what I need to buy as a hiring manager. The traits he gave me were perfect if I needed a greeter at Walmart, but they were not going to be satisfactory for him to enter a cyber security contract.

Kip: 

That’s that’s interesting. So those are still necessary things, but they’re insufficient when you’re positioning yourself. Yeah.

Wes: 

Our conversation continued, and we were able to draw out the skills he did need to highlight. My advice is don’t make the same mistake. Let’s emphasize the right skills upfront.

Kip: 

Right? Yeah. And, and we talked about this before, about the need to, to sell yourself. I mean, that’s what this is, is you are selling yourself. And if you think, if you think, as we said in a previous episode, well, I’m not in sales. And, and, and the vision that you get in your head is of a used car salesman. And you kind of wince and say, there’s no way I’m ever going to do that. Well, no, we don’t want you to be a used car, and maybe we don’t want it to be sleazy. Right? But we want you to do it in a very professional way. That’s what we’re talking about is how do you, how do you do this in a professional way? So how do you emphasize the right skills, Wes?

Wes:

I’m going to lean on an old friend and author of the book, The Art of War by Sun Tzu. He said, if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles if you know yourself, but not the enemy for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat. If you know, neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb and every battle. And I want to be careful here. Your hiring manager is not your enemy.

Kip: 

Right? But it is a competition, isn’t it.

Wes:

We don’t have wars for work like Sun Tzu did back in his day, but the interview clearly has a winner and a losing possibility. So use your powers for good and apply these skills to get the job you want and make the team you join better because you’re there.

Kip: 

Yeah. You know what came into my mind immediately? I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the 1970 movie Patton with George C. Scott, but there’s a very powerful part in that movie. It’s when he is going to battle against Rommel in a tank battle and what you see him doing the night before the battle is reading a book. He actually, supposedly I know there’s a lot of fiction in this movie, but you know, he read Rommel’s book on tactics, and he got to know how that man fought. Like how did he deploy his assets in battle? And he countered all of it and won the battle because he knew his enemy. So anyway, it’s just, Hollywood sometimes does a good job of illustrating these examples. So, OK. How, how do I know myself? How does that work, West?

Wes: 

When I would need to know myself, I start with my own list of skills. I’m going to organize them by technical skills and soft skills. I’m going to organize the technical skills by logical groupings. I’m maybe put all the database skills together, put all the networking skills together, maybe everything. Yeah. You’re going to structure your skills in a way that makes sense to you. OK? You don’t need to rate yourself. I don’t need to see three stars for this skill and five stars for that skill. If it’s on your resume.

Kip: 

We live in the Amazon economy. Why wouldn’t I do that?

Wes: 

If it’s on your resume, I’m going to assume you are competent and can interview for how deep that competency goes. Here’s a key point.

Kip: 

Have you seen somebody star their skills?

Wes:

Yes, I have.

Kip: 

Oh, man.

Wes: 

But I’ve looked at a lot of resumes over the years.

Kip: 

OK. Keep going.

Wes: 

So please don’t put aspirational skills on here. You can assume you will be questioned on any or every skill listed on your resume. Do not put cloud security unless you know something about cloud security.

Kip: 

OK.

Wes: 

One caveat to that. You can list working towards AWS associate cloud security certificate, and that’ll allow you to safely point that direction with an aspirational approach without claiming that as a specific skill.

Kip: 

OK. That’s a great technique. Yeah, because we’re all learning, and we’re all growing, and we’re headed somewhere. And I know when I’m looking for my next opportunity, one of the things that I’m thinking about is how can I acquire new skills? What, what can I also gain from this? I definitely, if I feel like I need to get better at cloud security, it would be nice to get a job where I, where I could grow in that area. So that’s a great way to fly that flag. That’s fantastic.

So now look, here’s the thing. Some people just put things on their resume that are just made up blatantly not true. You can tell fast in an interview that they have no idea what that is, and you don’t even understand how your system failed to the point where they actually made it into an interview. So yeah, don’t do that. Don’t be that person that you’re messing with your reputation when you do that. So, and we’ve talked about reputation in a prior episode and how deathly important that is. So don’t go there. OK. That’s know thyself, let’s go to the next point in master Tzu’s advice. So how do you know your enemy when your job hunting, bearing in mind that the hiring manager is not your enemy?

Wes: 

We talked about it before that we’ve got to research everything about that job in that company, right? There is enough information in the job description in your research of the company, in your background check of the interview team, to tell you what they’re looking for. If you put yourself in their shoes, would you know exactly what they’re looking for? Let’s emphasize those things.

Kip: 

Okay.

Wes: 

Here’s a simple example. If I want to go to work at McDonald’s, I can probably figure out what skills that hiring manager is looking for in their next hire. If I were going in there, I would emphasize, I show up for shifts. You can trust me with brand money and customers. I know how to keep my hands clean, and I’m a likable co-worker, right? I can do those four things. I’m probably going to get the job. So let’s do the same with a career job as well.

Kip: 

Yeah, that makes total sense. So if I can figure out the three, four, or five things that are going to be most important to the hiring manager, and I can demonstrate those things in my resume and then talk about them intelligently and convincingly in the interview, then that’s going to put me in the best position to get the job. I think where some people sort of struggle, and I liked that you used the McDonald’s example is I’ve purchased at McDonald’s before. I know what it means to interact with a competent employee at McDonald’s. All those things make sense, but somebody may be applying for a job that they haven’t had before, or just in a very different organization. And they have not seen somebody demonstrate that job. And so that, I think, makes it a little bit, a little bit more difficult, but nonetheless, you have to do it.

The big places you’re going to get that from is the job description, but you can go further than that, right? So it doesn’t take too much additional research to find the the corporate values. Amazon, for example, has 14 principles that they’ve published, things that they’re looking for when they’re hiring somebody. So, my gosh, you should know those too.

Wes: 

If you interview at Amazon and during your interview violate one of those 14 principles, it’s an immediate, no hire.

Kip: 

Better know.

Wes:

So you know them up upfront and come in prepared so that none of your stories violate the 14, and that’s not to shoot Amazon. They know what they’re looking for, and they’ve published it. They’ve told you ahead of time, this is what they’re looking for.

Kip:

That’s the cheat sheet for not to mess up.

Wes: 

Yeah. This is not a negative thing. This is actually an awesomely awesome forward thinking thing.

Kip: 

Yeah, and if you don’t like those 14 principles or most of them, then don’t go try to get a job there. I mean, you’re just, you’re, you’re poking the tiger with this.

Wes: 

There you go. So if let’s take this a little deeper now. If you’re looking at a project manager job, emphasize your ability to organize, lead, influence, maybe even understand the delivery process, your competency with common PM tools and methodologies, and your ability to perform miraculous deliveries. Right? If you’re looking it, if you’re looking at a technical PM job, you’ll need to prioritize the technical skills much higher on that list. Specifically the technical skills relevant to this technology, this domain that we’re working in.

Kip: 

Right? And we could go on and on, right? If you’re going to get an analyst role, then you need to make it perfectly clear in the resume. You know how to use technical data gathering tools. You’re skilled at synthesizing disparate data so that you can tell a story about what is actually going on out there. I mean, so much of the decision making that we make these days is data driven. But, data can be very messy and difficult. So your’re expected to bring order to that and, and explain to people, what’s going on, you got to be efficient, you’ve got to be able to multitask. You actually have to complete stuff. And how are you going to solve big problems, big business problems, because it’s not about the technology, it’s about the business problem and how can you collect the data?

Wes: 

Exactly. If you’re going to go for an engineering role, you’ll probably want to emphasize specific technical skills. You have a strong background in the ability to step into an uncontrolled space and deliver structure for yourself. And for those around you is so important.

Kip: 

Yeah. OK. So let’s just take a moment. And as we drive towards the end of the episode, let me just quickly recap, what you’ve heard so far, so you’ve defined your own skills, right? You know, yourself, you’ve organized them into logical groupings so that you can explain them to others. You’ve either eliminated or smartly qualified your aspirational skills, the things you’d like to have, but you don’t have yet. And you’ve, you’ve studied the job description. And you’ve learned what you can learn about this hiring organization in terms of their value system. Anything that they’ve put out to help prospective candidates really understand them, and you’ve prioritized your skills to match what you think the employer is looking for. So you’ve done all that. So is there anything else that needs to be done?

Wes: 

That’s a good question. I think maybe there’s one more thing we should cover for the skills you’ve listed in your skills section. You probably want to have some reference to them in some way in your various job description, bullets below. We’ll cover those in other week, make it easy for me to see which job you applied, which skills it doesn’t have to be exhaustive. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but don’t make it a mystery either. Right? Think about how you tie your skills into the specific job history descriptions and the highlights below.

Kip:

Right. And the reason why we’re asking a dear listener for that is because we have to figure that out anyway. And if you could make our lives easier than, you know what, then you’re actually demonstrating a skill, right? So please make our lives easier so that we can look at you as somebody we would love to have on our team, right? That’s what we want. But what if the skills let’s say I’ve got a skill and it’s not specific to a certain job. You know, maybe my parents taught me, I picked it up in school, or I was a volunteer. What do I do with that?

Wes: 

Those are still skills. And if they are operational, not just aspirational, then they belong here as well. There is no reason to discount yourself because you exercise that skill in a different environment. If you say you can hit a baseball and I ask you to hit a softball, do you think you could do it? Then you’re still on solid ground.

Kip: 

So this reminds me of a time when I was a teenager, and I was going for one of my first jobs ever. And I remember I was coached to put in my skill section of my resume that I knew how to operate a clothes washing machine. And I thought that was just the goofiest thing ever. But it was so correct because the person who ended up interviewing me, hit exactly on this spot and said, he said, nobody, I’ve yet to see anybody come to me as a new person in the working world and, list that they know how to use a washing machine, but that’s fantastic. I’m so glad you mentioned that because it really helps me understand, what you can do, like you actually have done something so.

Wes: 

Well, so what job was it that you were going for that you listed clothes washing machine?

Kip:

Well, OK. So this is my first pay by the hour job. How old was I? 15 and a half. 16 years old. And, and the job here. OK. So there’s like a cleanup, the highway department at the state of Washington. And they have a Washington State youth Corps, I think, is what they call it. And they hire high school kids, maybe college kids now, I don’t know. But back then, they were hiring high school kids in the summer to go out and pick up trash on the side of the road. So it’s not terribly difficult. Right? But I had never been paid by the hour to do any work. This was the first job real job that I’d ever applied for. So.

Wes: 

So you listed the skills you had, even if they were only transferable relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Kip: 

Yeah, that’s exactly right. And I got the job.

Wes: 

You got to start somewhere.

Kip: 

And if I told you how much I made, which I thought was a small fortune at the time, but there was a long time ago too. So.

Wes: 

You know, the hardest thing to do is to know when you’re done. So.

Kip: 

I think we’re done.

Wes: 

I think we are. I think we are when you’ve done enough, and you can release that work product to the world. We’ve completed two major sections of the resume. We’re almost there next time. We’ll look at the job history section. Let’s see if we can be ready to be done.

Kip: 

That’s excellent. OK, thanks, Wes. So we are going to wrap up this episode. As we do, so I want to remind you that we are going to go into this material and tons of other material in great, great depth. If you sign up for our masterclass, which is called how to get your dream cybersecurity job, as told by hiring managers, we ran a beta version of the class. It went really well. And our new friend, Steve, got his dream security job before he even finished all the lessons. And I was absolutely blown away by that. It’s an inspiring story. And if you want to read about Steve’s story, go to yourcyberpath.com/Steve S-T-E-V-E. And until next time, remember, you’re just one path away from your dream cybersecurity job. We’ll see you next time.

Headshot of Kip BoyleYOUR HOST:

Kip Boyle
Cyber Risk Opportunities

Kip Boyle serves as virtual chief information security officer for many customers, including a professional sports team and fast-growing FinTech and AdTech companies. Over the years, Kip has built teams by interviewing hundreds of cybersecurity professionals. And now, he’s sharing his insider’s perspective with you!

Headshot of Jason DionYOUR CO-HOST:

Jason Dion
Dion Training Solutions

Jason Dion is the lead instructor at Dion Training Solutions. Jason has been the Director of a Network and Security Operations Center and an Information Systems Officer for large organizations around the globe. He is an experienced hiring manager in the government and defense sectors.