EPISODE 38
Wes’ Job Hunt
EPISODE 38
Wes’ Job Hunt

WES’ JOB HUNT

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?
 

Relevant websites for this episode

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Episode Transcript

Kip Boyle: 

Hi. This is Your Cyber Path. We’re the podcast that helps you get your dream cybersecurity job. I’m Kip Boyle. Wes Schriner is here.

Wes Shriner: 

I’m Wes Schriner.

Kip Boyle: 

Yup. Yup. That’s Wes. And we’re experienced hiring managers of cybersecurity professionals. So, you probably know by this point if you’ve watched us before that we do an audio only recording which you can get in your favorite podcast app. We also do a video recording and you can get that on our YouTube channel. Just go to YouTube and search for Your Cyber Path podcast.

Now, if you’re watching the video today you can tell that we don’t have a slide deck on the screen as we have done in the, maybe what, the last five or six episodes. Today is a little different. As we told you in the last episode we’re going to share a story with you and it’s the story of what happened to Wes when he was recently hunting for his own dream cybersecurity job. And I challenged him to share his journey with you because we’re on this podcast dishing out a lot of wisdom and we’re suggesting all these things that you ought to do. And so I was thinking, “Well, we should tell our audience what we actually did.” Or in this case what Wes actually did. If I ever go looking for my dream cybersecurity job I think Wes will be expecting me to dish on what I did and what I didn’t do. 

Wes Shriner:

I feel like we’re giving wooden nickel advice. But thank you, Kip. I do want to call out that we’re taking a break. We introduced a place mat of what does a cybersecurity organization look like and are the 23 services of a common security service catalog. We introduced each of the four major domains and now we’re taking a break for just a minute to talk about the career experience I’ve just had. And then I’m looking forward to the next episode where we’re going to jump in a whole lot deeper into what are the different services and what are the jobs, what are the technologies, and what are the processes that we’re most commonly going to see in those spaces. So, it’s going to be a lot of fun. I hope you’re able to join us. 

Kip Boyle: 

Yeah. So, we’ll get back to that. 

Wes Shriner: 

Oh, we’ll be there. 

Kip Boyle: 

But this is such a timely topic and we wanted to tackle it before memories started to get a little stale and fade. 

Wes Shriner:

When you catch the fish, it’s this big. When you get to the car, it’s this big. And when you get home, it was this big. I know how that works. 

Kip Boyle: 

Exactly.

Wes Shriner:

No, I want to tell you, speaking of timely, it’s winter time on the farm and in January, in the farm, we plant trees. Well, you plant the fruit trees. Fruit goes dormant and it’s a great time of year to put fruit in the ground. And so, this last week, besides the 60 mile an hour blizzard that we had on Friday night, that was a rough one. The week before that I put 25 fruit trees in the ground. And those 25 fruit trees are going to grow into amazing fruit on this property for the next 30 years. I say 30 years because sometimes it takes that long for some of these trees to develop to full maturity.

In this area we’re going to see excellent apples. We’re going to see pears. We’re going to see plums. We’re going to see the blueberries, although I already had 40 blueberries in the ground, so we’re good there. We’re going to see some grapes come out. We’re going to see some apricots and some peaches. So, that’s kind of what we’re going to see from that. I planted a few trials with some olives and figs and mulberries, but even some guava. But we’ll see what happens with those. Those are more, “Let’s find out.” 

Kip Boyle: 

What do you do with a mulberry? That’s the one thing you said that I was like, “I don’t even know what…” if somebody gave me a bushel-

Wes Shriner: 

Don’t you go round a mulberry bush? Isn’t that what you do?

Kip Boyle: 

So is that all it is, is playground equipment?

Wes Shriner: 

It’s fruit, man. It’s food. It’s a thing that you can make excellent jams with. Yeah.

Kip Boyle:

All right.

Wes Shriner:

I don’t claim to know how to do all of this yet, but I can put plants in the ground. And one of the cool things about putting plants in the ground is not this year. This year I’ve got to keep them alive and water them and protect them from the elements and the deer that will eat them to nothing. But three years from now I’ll start to see some fruit. And five years from now I’ll be proud of that fruit. And ten years from now I’ll have a pretty healthy set of fruit trees, maybe even what you might call an orchard, right?

Kip Boyle: 

Yeah.

Wes Shriner: 

And so the thought for the day is, from the farm, thought from the farm, might be you don’t plant 25 fruit trees unless you plan to stay awhile. And I think that’s true in our careers and in our jobs as well. Let’s think about how we can plant the fruit trees that are going to grow fruit for us for the rest of our careers. 

Kip Boyle: 

I’m digging on it. 

Wes Shriner: 

That was our deep thought for today.

Kip Boyle: 

We’ll see if it gets any deeper around here in anything else.

Wes Shriner: 

And on that topic, let’s think about expectations. My parents had the same job for 40 years. They did the same work. They never changed jobs. They didn’t even change… My mom was a school teacher and she stayed at the same school. My dad was a civilian contractor for the military and he never changed buildings, as far as I know. Did you have a similar expectation or was your expectation different?

Kip Boyle: 

Gosh, my parents, their work history, well they weren’t college graduates. They were blue collar workers and they worked hard. Work was something that was valued very highly. And so, that was the work ethic that got instilled into me. However, my parents encouraged me to go to college, which I did. And so, my expectations for my career were different in terms of how often would I change jobs, what kinds of jobs would I pursue, and what kinds of problems would I work on. That was all very different. And so, I felt like I had a clean sheet of paper in terms of making my own expectations as far as that is concerned. And I can tell you that what I discovered is that there are certain problems I love to work on. And when those problems are put to rest and there are no more problems like that, Kip gets bored. 

Wes Shriner:

Well, I will say it confuses my mother greatly when I change jobs. She doesn’t understand why you would ever want to do that. And part of it is because I planted fruit trees here and it’s time for me to plant some fruit trees in the next opportunity, right?

Kip Boyle: 

Yup.

Wes Shriner: 

So part of this is expectations. And that’s really where we’re going to transition here from what were the expectations you had growing up to what are the expectations you had in this time of transition that you find yourself in. You’re in a time of waiting and this time of whatever it is, are you grieving and mourning because you had something and it is gone? Is it a time of reset because you are in a new place and you’ve got to figure that out? Shoot, is it a time of identity because, “Oh, my goodness, I was powerful, high powerful falutin guy, right?” But now I’m, “unemployed mouse.” Is that how you’re going to be? Are you going to define yourself by your job? Are you going to define yourself by something else, something bigger or something better than just what we do for work.

Kip Boyle: 

Yeah. I would put another idea in there too. Sometimes it’s tremendous relief that you are moving on to a new opportunity, as they say.

Wes Shriner:

And that’s exciting too. Isn’t there a lot of anticipation and enthusiasm about the big new thing I can’t wait to tell you. And you’ve got to sit on it for some period of time until all the papers are signed and I can go to the next thing. So, there’s all sorts of emotions and I’m going to just list a few. And maybe these are the sour side of it but I’m going to list the anxiety and I’m going to list pride because my pride says, “I don’t want to tell people I’m not at work today.” Or maybe there’s resentment. Maybe there jealousy. Maybe there’s regret. We’ve got to deal with all of that stuff in our heart in order to get our heart right. And that’s the first bullet is get your heart right, my friends, because you’ve got to get your heart right before you can go do other stuff or you’re just going to be dragging around baggage and it’s going to be obvious. 

Kip Boyle: 

And if you’re grieving that’s going to… and it’s not that you shouldn’t be grieving. I mean if you do need to process grief, process grief.

Wes Shriner:

Process.

Kip Boyle: 

But don’t expect that while you’re processing grief that you’re going to show up to interviews your best self. 

Wes Shriner: 

You will not, my friends. 

Kip Boyle: 

Yeah. Yeah. That’s not reasonable.

Wes Shriner:

I don’t care how great a stage actor you think you might be.

Kip Boyle: 

Yeah. That’s not reasonable. So, be aware. Have some self awareness and give yourself time and space to process that grief.

Wes Shriner:

Your goal is to find humility, to find forgiveness, and to be ready for the next opportunity. And that’s where we go next. What’s your timeline, what’s your urgency, or what’s your opportunity? How fast do you need or want to make this move. For me, I wanted to finish my Master’s program. I wanted to work on my book. I wanted to create some podcasts. I wanted to do some barn construction. Barn construction, sorry Kip. I plumbed four sinks. I wired 25 outlets. I hung some windows.

Kip Boyle: 

That is just so impressive. I can’t do any of the things you just listed off. None of it. I could maybe learn.

Wes Shriner: 

YouTube videos, my man.

Kip Boyle: 

But right now, I don’t know. 

Wes Shriner: 

We are just falling into the pile of YouTube videos that I have used to learn other things. And, hopefully, some day, someone beyond the 17 listeners will actually appreciate what we have to offer here. 

So, I also had a lot of family time. Remember, we’ve got five kids at home. Three of them are permanent children and two are foster children. And so those foster children, we don’t know how much time we have with them and I really wanted to get some investment with them. I really wanted to build that connection. And that happened. That was one of the sweetest things in this time.

Kip Boyle: 

That’s great.

Wes Shriner: 

I got to drive a lot of kids. We’re in the middle of COVID-19 and so everybody’s at home. It’s pandemic stay-at-home which is very different for a family of seven. I’m not going to lie. A family of seven does not quarantine the same way a family of one or two does. 

Kip Boyle: 

For sure. For sure.

Wes Shriner: 

All right, so the time line for me was a little longer than usual. But that’s kind of pandemic expected. For me, I’ve had a lot of job transitions in my career. And that’s just fine. That’s part of the journey. But in this case, it was a little bit longer because of the pandemic. But it was also a little bit longer because I had the opportunity to stretch it out and enjoy the journey.

Kip Boyle: 

I think that’s great, Wes, because I had such a strong work ethic instilled when I was a kid, when I changed jobs for the first, probably, I’m thinking, first 20 years out of college, I would hardly have any time between. Like I would stop one job on Friday and start the next job on Monday. I did that several times. It just didn’t feel comfortable to not start the new job. And then I got a little older, a little wiser, and in 2010, when I switched jobs, I was to a point where I was like, “How many weeks can I take off between these jobs?” I wanted a sabbatical. I was so ready for nothing, just a whole lot of nothing. And, fortunately, it was in the middle of the summer, glorious Seattle summer, and I just took weeks off. And what I learned for the first time in my life is that it takes me two full weeks to relax, to unwind from work. And it wasn’t until the third week, and I took like six weeks, it wasn’t until the third week that I finally got to the place where I forgot what day it was. I had no idea. Was it Wednesday? Was is Saturday? I couldn’t tell. And my shoulders were just relaxed. It was brilliant.

So, that was the last big job change that I did and how I handled it. I look back on that and I’m really glad that’s how I did it. 

Wes Shriner:

It sounds like you were trying to get your head right. 

Kip Boyle:

Yeah.

Wes Shriner: 

And that, by the way, is the next topic. 

Kip Boyle: 

Good.

Wes Shriner: 

We got to get our head right. You’ve got to separate and frame your last job in your own head so that you can go forward with the next one. I have interviewed countless people who tell me, “I’m a nice, honest person. I’ve done good things and I can help you too.” And I think to myself, “You should be a greeter at Walmart.” Don’t sell me you’re a nice guy. Who are you and what are you going to do? How are you going to world change? How are you going to make my world better? How are you going to turn this company? How are we going to be better because you were here?

Kip Boyle: 

What problems are we going to solve together?

Wes Shriner:

That’s what I’m looking for you to sell. Right. Right. Think about, in your transition, is this just a horizontal transition? Am I looking for the same job again tomorrow? Am I looking for a different job at the same level but learn a different skill? Am I looking to make a jump for industry or geography? How many people do you know are… I think there’s a lot of news headlines right now about moving across the country, people moving from one state to another because of their experiences in the state they’re from, and the experiences they want to have in the state they go to. 

Kip Boyle:

I know quite a few people that either have moved to Florida or are telling me like, “We are actively looking to relocate to some place that is more warm more months of the year, more summer, more months of the year.” Or more sun. So, I absolutely am seeing that. 

Wes Shriner: 

I have five different friends that have moved and not one of them gave me furniture. I’m very disappointed. I call them friends but you just never know. All right, which takes us to the next part of that. You are valuable. You are not allowed to let the imposter syndrome sneak in here. You are worth it. You delivered in your last job, you will deliver in your next job and you are absolutely bringing value, even in the interview. I find sometimes I’m teaching something in the interview and I’m wondering, “If they don’t hire me, did I just give that away?” And the answer is yes, yes I did. But that’s part of the hiring journey is I’m going to trust you with some info and you’re going to trust me and we’ll see where we go from there. 

Kip Boyle: 

Yup. And leading with serving, leading with generosity, that’s good stuff. 

Wes Shriner: 

And where is your help coming from? What is it going to look like? You have some healthy friends. And I’m not going to lie, in the middle of my journey there were times when you would find me curled up in a ball, rocking back and forth in a dark corner. And during those times my phone will ring, because they can’t come visit, but my phone will ring and it will be one of the folks that I’ve worked with in the recent past saying, “Hey, man, how are you doing?” And I have a choice at that point. I can tell them I’m fine, or I can tell them the truth. And that’s a choice we all get to make. I didn’t spend long in the corner. But you visit it once in a while in your mind and it’s time to lean on the friends, the co-workers, having a spouse that supports you is phenomenal. And I’m lucky to be married to the best woman in the world. So that puts me in a great spot.

Kip Boyle: 

Oh, man, we’re going to have to arm wrestle over that title for my wife, I guess. 

Wes Shriner: 

That’s great. I’m glad for you. And I have friends who rally, like you. You called me up and said, “Hey, Wes, where are you? How’s your head?”

Kip Boyle: 

Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. Boy, there’s so much uncertainty. I mean being in between jobs is a gray zone and most of us don’t do well living in the gray zone. That’s not where we want to be. It’s hard.

Wes Shriner: 

And yet sometimes that ambiguity is where we find the answers to the biggest questions.

Kip Boyle: 

Sometimes.

Wes Shriner: 

Which is where we go on the next topic. I know, isn’t that exciting? You’ve got to get your heart right. You’ve got to get your head right. Now you’ve got to get your soul right, my friends. If we believe that there’s a God in heaven, if we believe the nature of that God is love and justice and we believe that that God wants a personal relationship with us that’s described in the Bible, which I do. So, just know that’s kind of where I’m coming from, then this is my opportunity to reconnect with that maker, that creator, and to find for myself, renew that relationship that maybe I neglected when I was working 12 hours a day. And sometimes it’s that God using this job transition to get my attention. Follow me for a second. 

Kip Boyle: 

Okay.

Wes Shriner:

If God were trying to get your attention, there’s a lot of ways to do it. He has levers. He can make you sick. He can make your parents sick. He can get in your marriage and make marriage hard. God can use levers to cause us to look up and say, “I need something more. I can’t solve this problem myself.” Sometimes, when God really needs to get my attention he pulls the lever of job. And honestly, I believe that’s the cheapest lever he could possibly pull in my life to cause me to go back to the things that matter most to me and recenter, refocus, and really renew and refresh in those areas. And so, for me, a big part of the job search was the spiritual thing. So, thank you for letting me throw that out for you, friends. If you’re still listening, lots more good stuff to come. 

Kip Boyle: 

Hey, look, everybody’s got their own faith. Whatever it is, even if you say, “I don’t have any faith,” that’s fine. Everyone’s welcome here, man. 

Wes Shriner: 

Indeed. Indeed. It’s a good place to be. I will end with, I don’t think God is interested in building great wealth. I don’t think He’s interested in fame or reputation. I don’t think God is interested in our happiness or our comfort. I think He is interested in a sweet relationship with us and this is how we can get to that. 

Okay. And with that, the next thing you’ve got to do, you’ve got to do your homework, friends. Got to do your homework. And so, I found myself doing a lot of homework myself. I went to the professional resume writer. And the professional resume writer told me to do things differently than I was doing them and I did not agree with her. She was right. Did I say that out loud? I’m sorry. 

Kip Boyle:

Interesting. Oh, that’s very-

Wes Shriner: 

My biggest recommendation there is… I have two recommendations in the resume writing world. One is, do not wait for it to be perfect. Keep pushing it out even when it is not perfect. Don’t apologize for it. It’s your best resume. Get it out there. And then invest in yourself and invest in that resume. The value of a resume writer is worth their weight in gold for what they’re doing for you. Argue with them a little, but don’t argue with them a lot. You know that rule, push twice and then give in? I’d say push once and give in, in this case because they do this professionally, they know what they’re doing. Trust them to package you in a way that’s going to get you where you want to be.

Kip Boyle: 

Boy, I have never used a professional resume writer, coach. And I think I would be skeptical too. I think I would probably have a similar reaction if they were saying, “Well, you need to do this.” And I’m like, “Huh. I don’t think that’s right.”

Wes Shriner: 

Do you know how many resumes I saw last year? I’m good. But I wasn’t good. But I wasn’t good and it took some humility to get there. The other thing I did was I had a career coach. I had a coach who pulled me aside and said, “Let’s prepare you for this thing.” And I had four meetings with that career coach. And the first one was happy-go-lucky friendly. And the second one was, “Are we going to do something?” And the third one I said, “I need to re-write this paragraph of my resume. And if we can re-write that introductory paragraph, three sentences, in this hour, it will be worth the whole hour.” We wrote three sentences in one hour. And those sentences are going to be at the top of my resume for the next 10 years. So it was absolutely worth the hour. Set goals for that time and use that time specifically for moving the ball down the field.

Kip Boyle: 

So let me ask you a question if I may. You got professionals on your team for this transition. I’ve never done that. What was it that caused you to say that that was what you needed to do? Was that the first time you’ve ever done it or had you done it before? Tell me just a little bit more about what went on in your head that made you feel like you needed to bring those people in?

Wes Shriner:

It was part of the package deal for the lay-off. That’s how I brought them in. So, I didn’t actually out-of-pocket them.

Kip Boyle: 

Okay. Got it.

Wes Shriner: 

So, they were available as part of the package.

Kip Boyle: 

But you still had the choice not to use them. Nobody said you had to. 

Wes Shriner: 

And if you’ve got aces on your team who want to help you why would we not take advantage of that?

Kip Boyle: 

Yeah. But that first one you thought was a deuce.

Wes Shriner: 

And it turned out to be an excellent value. 

Kip Boyle: 

I’m glad.

Wes Shriner:

I’m glad I did. 

Kip Boyle: 

I’m glad. That’s good. Okay. 

Wes Shriner: 

I really wanted a smaller company with a bigger span of control. That’s where I was headed. I’ve been in Fortune 100 companies for most of my career influencing at the big level with a small to medium size job. And I really wanted to go with the bigger job at the smaller company. And I needed to figure out how to do that, how to speak that language and how to be prepared for my transition. That was my stated goal, objective. And I remember you looked at me and said, “Yeah. You could do it.” But that’s because you’re an encourager and a cheerleader and not necessarily because you gave me logical, sound advice.

Kip Boyle: 

Oh, man. 

Wes Shriner: 

God bless you, Kip. I love you. 

Kip Boyle: 

But I wasn’t off though, right? That’s what were going to find out at the end of the episode is that I was not off.

Wes Shriner: 

You can’t tell us the end of the story.

Kip Boyle: 

I teased it. I didn’t tell you. 

Wes Shriner: 

All right. So, now we’re getting to the big stuff. You’ve got to use your resources. You have a long network of people who love you. And I do. And I think you do too and you may not remember it and you may not know it. And you may not realize you’re looking in the right places for it. You just forgot. That prodigy kid that you mentored four years ago is a director somewhere now. Call him. You helped that person in their career and they know it but you forgot. So, it’s time to do that reconnection and then go to coffee with as many people as you can. If you’re sitting outside in the middle of winter in the rain drinking coffee without a chair because it’s not allowed in your state, you’re doing it right. Do that. And then help-

Kip Boyle: 

Oh, man. And then you’re bonding. You’re bonding. 

Wes Shriner: 

Well, and then you help others every chance you get. The more you’re helping others the more it’s going to come back to you because it just does. It just does. I would say something I learned from Neil Wills and I’m going to call him out here, he built a road map of where he’s at in his job search. And he had four different columns of where he’s at in the interview life cycle, the product life cycle for each of his interview opportunities. And he had three companies this one, and six companies in this column, and two companies here. And he could then share that with me and I could see what companies he’s actively looking at. 

When he’s openly specific about what he’s pursuing, I can openly help him get to the next level. I can now offer him, “Here’s my contact at that company. Let me do an introduction for you.” How many times, if I had a nickel for every time somebody said, “My network’s open to you. Let me know who I can contact for you.” And yet I didn’t take them up on most of those. If your listening now it’s because you’re one of the 17 people listening that also offered that and I appreciate it. I’m sorry I didn’t take advantage of it. And if I can learn something from Neil it would be, draw up your road map and give people a visual that says, “This is where I’m going. Can you help me with any of these steps?”

Kip Boyle: 

Yeah. Now, you did kind of skim over something that I just want to acknowledge which is you were able to pin for yourself a destination. You knew where you wanted to go. You knew where you were. You knew where you wanted to go and once you had that destination in mind, well now it becomes almost like a Google map exercise. It’s not quite that easy but there’s probably a lot of people listening, watching this episode and they’re like, “Yeah. Well, I don’t know exactly what job I want.” So, that can be a big blocker for them. And I just want to say that if you don’t know the job that you want, do that homework. Pick something that you think is right. Go for it. You can always change. But you’ve got to get moving. You’ve got to get some momentum. You’ve got to discover whether that job that you picked based on the homework is really, truly good for you. You may start unpacking it and realize, “Oh, this is actually a lot more than I thought and I don’t really like the more that I’m finding.” Okay. Great. Roll to the second choice that you came up with or make a second choice.

The point is get some momentum. Get going. Don’t worry about, “I’m not so sure if this is the one.” You can change your mind if you find out it’s not the one. Get moving.

Wes Shriner: 

So I’m hearing energy creates energy and momentum creates momentum.

Kip Boyle: 

I think so. And people can sense that too. If you’re on a mission, people like that. People like people who are on a mission. That sense of purpose is wonderful.

Wes Shriner: 

Indeed. So, I had several opportunities along the way and we should touch on those for just a second because we’ve talked about, you don’t have a job and it’s not your fault. Let’s talk about that. I had a Fortune 50 company, local to me here, who had a director of security architecture position open. And I have three friends who are directors in that department. I’m thinking this is mine, it’s a walk in.

Kip Boyle: 

Seems like it. Yeah. 

Wes Shriner: 

It wasn’t in my target for what I was looking for but it’s a walk in. Let’s go take advantage of that. In this case they hired a new CSO, a new CSO wanted his own deputy in that chair. And the chair closed before it was opened. And I’m glad, I want that company to be successful. But I had my eye set on that and that one evaporated in front of me. And so, bugger, let’s go back and work on that next opportunity, or hopefully we have a pipeline of eight or ten in flight and we can work on that next opportunity. 

Kip Boyle: 

I love that you said pipeline because that brings up the point that you are selling. You’re selling what you can do. You’re selling your ability to solve problems. And selling is a numbers game as much as it is anything else. You need a pipeline. So, if you’re out there searching for jobs, you’d better have a pipeline. And another way to think of it is a funnel. You need to have a lot of opportunities coming in to the big part of the funnel as they trickle down through that then you’re going to only be left with a percentage of what came in at the top. And you better have more than one. 

Wes Shriner: 

So, then I had a growth company, it’s square in my target market. They want their first manager of security and they want to grow the security program around it. They’re very excited. It’s a high tech company. It’s related to the telecom space that I’ve been in. I got through the fourth interview. At the fourth interview a side question at the end of the interview from the as-needed person was, “So, what do you know about GDPR?” That was not something in the job description. That was not something we were looking for. 

Kip Boyle: 

That was a left hook. 

Wes Shriner:

I got left behind because I didn’t do GDPR. The person who was hired two weeks later had the GDPR experience. And I know because I have a friend who is on the inside and who was advocating and navigating me through the process. Not complaining. Not sad. Just glad they found the right person and sure burned a lot of time going through four rounds of interviews for them to discover they had the wrong job description.

Kip Boyle: 

Yeah. Yeah. Oh, man. Boy, interviewing candidates is a learning process for the employer, isn’t it?

Wes Shriner: 

Isn’t that true?

Kip Boyle: 

I mean you absolutely go through candidates and they reveal to you things you did not think about when you wrote that JD and so, yeah.

Wes Shriner:

Isn’t that true?

Kip Boyle: 

I mean, boy, that absolutely can happen. Did you feel like those four interviews were wasteful of your time or did you take something away from it as well?

Wes Shriner: 

I didn’t really appreciate the waste of the time. They didn’t have a security leader and they were bringing in a deputy. They were literally, first foray into security and apparently into privacy as well. They were not in a space, I will say I didn’t answer the GDPR question as well as I could have because I wasn’t expecting it. And those who are listening who know me, are probably going to send me hate mail for having failed at that step. That’s okay.

Kip Boyle: 

Well, I think that’s something else that I’ll just touch on for a moment is that there’s a lot of talk right now about converging cybersecurity, information security, with privacy and I’m not a fan of that at all. I don’t think that’s a good idea because privacy is really, I believe, a business decision. What data are we going to collect? Now, the decision about how we’re going to protect the data that we do collect, okay great, that’s information security, that’s cybersecurity. How will we use the data that we collect? If we’re going to collect somebody’s personal information and we told them when we collected it we’re going to use it for this purpose. But then later on somebody decides we’re going to use it for this other purpose that wasn’t disclosed when it was collected, cybersecurity can’t do anything about that. We have no voice in that.

Wes Shriner:

Notification and consent are critical in that, you’re right. I think that the biggest business case for security is privacy. I think if I need a new tool, my best bet is to go tell the privacy guys that I want to protect their data with my new tool and I’m going to get the cash. 

Kip Boyle: 

I won’t argue that. I won’t argue that. I’m just not sure that melding those two together as a function in the organization or the enterprise is necessarily a good idea because I think it’s going to create a gap. Business people are going to think that the privacy team is taking care of it. The privacy team is going to be like, “What are they doing with that data? We don’t know because they never talk to us.” I just don’t think it’s a recipe for success. End of rant. Let’s keep going. 

Wes Shriner:

Well I’m going to pick it up one more time because this is fun. I was at a company where the definition of risk was, “Is it customer data on the internet?” And if it’s customer data and internet that was the intersection of impact and likelihood that drove the risk score through the roof. And so, you want a risk score? Is it customer data on the internet? Great. There you go. There’s your score. 

Kip Boyle: 

Oh, that’s a whole other episode. Anyway…

Wes Shriner:

All right. Then I went to another company. This was an infrastructure company. They were looking for their first security engineer. But a head-hunter grabbed me and said, “Hey, Wes, you need to go in for this.” I said, “I’m not your engineer. I’ve been an engineer. I’ve been an engineering manager. But I’m not looking for an engineer job, I’m looking for a CSO job.” And the answer came back to me, “Well, we should talk to them anyway.” And I did. And I convinced them that they definitely had a CSO caliber candidate in front of them and a security engineer is what they were hoping to fill. 

After the third interview, and I knew going into this that this was going to be an up-sell opportunity. I knew that going in. They said, “No hire. Not enough of an engineer, more of a paper pusher.” And then a week later they called me back and changed their mind. 

Kip Boyle: 

They learned something.

Wes Shriner: 

They did. They learned maybe we need two positions. We need a leader and we need a follower. 

Kip Boyle: 

Somebody to push paper, somebody to push bits. 

Wes Shriner: 

And I met with the CTO and then I sat down with the COO. And I finished that interview with the COO, the Chief Operating Officer of this national infrastructure company, and he’s coaching me. He goes, “You need to meet with our CEO in order to really have the backing you would need in order to come into this role and deliver the way you want to.” And then he spent 10 minutes coaching me on how to be ready for that person’s interview at that level with the CEO. It was phenomenal. It was a tremendous experience for mentoring me on how to prepare for being successful for his boss. 

Kip Boyle:

Wow. Well, he must of really had a lot of confidence in you.

Wes Shriner: 

He must have gone back and said, “This guy needs to be in tomorrow.”

Kip Boyle:

Yeah.

Wes Shriner: 

I haven’t heard from that company in three months.

Kip Boyle: 

Gee.

Wes Shriner: 

No idea what they’re doing. God bless them. Good luck to you guys.

Kip Boyle: 

That’s the biggest ghost ever.

Wes Shriner: 

Well, and probably what’s going on there is they went back to the bank and they said, “Wait. We don’t have the pockets to be able to support what we want to do here. There’s no value in trying to go forward.” And so, I’m glad I could help them learn that. 

So then the fourth opportunity kind of snuck up on me. This was a head-hunter grabbing me on the East Coast who said, “Hey, you would be a great opportunity for health care industry.” I said, “Really?” And he got me in to start talking and the boxes were checked and we kept going. I was in Texas with the family over New Years doing an interview from the upstairs back bedroom of my in-laws house because that was what was available at the time. I had an offer while I was in Texas at the in-laws which is always a good thing. If you’re going to be at your in-laws unemployed, it’s great to leave with an offer.

Kip Boyle:

Let’s just say your stock went up.

Wes Shriner:

I’m working as a car salesman at my father-in-law’s car dealership. No. That’s not true. It does feel good to have that kind of opportunity happen in that kind of space. 

Kip Boyle: 

That’s great.

Wes Shriner:

So, I started a couple of weeks later and I’m loving it. I came from a security engineering role most recently, and I’m stepping into more of a security government risk compliance. And then broader, into a full security organ. So, I’m having a lot of fun. 

Kip Boyle: 

Good. I’m glad you landed. I’m glad you landed after that. That was a long journey for you, several months. So, congrats.

Wes Shriner: 

So, let’s leave you with this. Thank you. It was a journey. It was a good one and thank you for being my friend on the journey.

Kip Boyle: 

You bet.

Wes Shriner: 

You all need one. Unemployment is a team sport. Job searching is a team sport. Let’s do that.

Kip Boyle: 

Yeah. That I can get behind.

Wes Shriner: 

Let’s do that one. 

Kip Boyle:

No problem.

Wes Shriner: 

So folks, you’ve got to stay on task. You’re not allowed to go work on the barn every day just because it’s easier. Stay on task. You can still read to your kids at night. But during the day you’ve got to make time and make the space in order to go find your next great opportunity.

Kip Boyle:

Yeah. I say your job is to find a job. 

Wes Shriner: 

Double down. You need to be working hard at that, right?

Kip Boyle: 

Yup. Yup.

Wes Shriner: 

And one of the ways to measure that is to do three job things a day. Accomplish three things a day. If you do three things a day, five days a week, you’re going to be back at work sooner than you know it. 

Kip Boyle: 

Okay, and so then if I look at the ZipRecruiter email that popped into my inbox that morning…

Wes Shriner: 

Doesn’t count.

Kip Boyle: 

It doesn’t count? It’s not even one thing?

Wes Shriner:

Doesn’t count.

Kip Boyle:

Oh, dang.

Wes Shriner:

Looking at an email does not count. You must create, build, deliver, or interact in some appropriate way that moves you forward down the field. All right?

Kip Boyle: 

Man. Set the bar high, why don’t you?

Wes Shriner: 

It feels like the field is forever but it’s only 100 yards and at some point you will find the end zone. You just don’t know where you’re at on the field so you don’t know if today’s your touchdown.

Kip Boyle: 

Yeah. Stadium lights are off. The fog’s rolled in. You’ve just got to keep running.

Wes Shriner: 

There you go. Take me back to Slippery Rock at South Kitsap. All right. The next thing is take your holidays off. Take your weekends off. If you’re going to work hard, you better play hard and you need to play hard because you better work hard.

Kip Boyle: 

Yeah. That’s true. If your job is to find a job then you deserve a weekend of no work.

Wes Shriner: 

And then I leave you with this, we make our plans but the Lord directs our steps. And that has been true for me and that’s how I managed the anxiety and the stress, the excitement and the enthusiasm of this transition. Make your plans, set them before the Lord and He will direct your paths.

Kip Boyle: 

Wow. That was some amazing insight, fresh insight. So thank you so much for willing to share this so soon after your journey came to an end.

Wes Shriner:

What a fun time. Thanks, Kip.

Kip Boyle: 

Really appreciate it and I hope everybody listening got at least one really good thing from listening to Wes’ journey. If you got more than one thing then, wow, gosh, your time here has been well spent, I think. 

So, let’s wrap it up. I just want to say a couple of things about what you could do next to get your dream cybersecurity job. You know we’ve got a free guide that we put together, and it’s called, Play to Win, Getting Your Dream Cybersecurity Job. And it describes how, if you’ve ever played capture the flag, whether that’s in the woods, in the dirt the way I did when I was a kid, or digitally in some kind of a cyber range or something like that on the internet, however you did that, if you’ve done that then you can take that approach, that mind set, and you can use it to compete and win in your job hunting. It’s a helpful, 20-page visual guide and all you have to do is go to the following URL, yourcyberpath.com/pdf. I’ll just say it one more time, yourcyberpath.com/pdf. Grab a copy for yourself. Take a look at it. Let us know what you think. If it’s helpful, I want to hear from you. If it’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen, or just meh, I don’t care. Let me know. Send me a message. Let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you. And at this point I just want to say you’re one path away from your dream cybersecurity job. Thanks for being here. We’ll see you next time. Thanks, Wes.

Wes Shriner: 

Good times. Bye all.

 

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.