If you google “IT security resume template”, you’ll find a lot of resume models filled with roles and responsibilities such as:
- Monitored all security alerts using RealSecure intrusion detection system.
- Managed and performed security auditing and hardening processes on Apache web server (RHEL6).
- Designed, configured and maintained network/security devices (Cisco ASA Firewall) and access lists.
- Provided analysis on malware investigations on Windows platforms including servers, desktops.
- Provided risk-related SOP’s for IT infrastructure in relation to low/high level security events.
That seems about right, no?
But there’s a problem. A huge problem, actually. Think of the information security professionals that you know. How many of them have done similar things? Probably most of them. Because that’s pretty much what being an IT security pro is all about. There are differences here and there, but roles and responsibilities will often overlap. So if your resume is very close to a typical “information security resume template”, how is that helping you get interviews? After all, the best resumes are distinctive. They make you stand out, not blend in!
So here’s a little something to help you make your resume stand out. It’s based on the 3 Laws of Resume Writing. And it’s not material that I made up. I found it by carefully studying good IT security resumes.
5 IT Security Accomplishments to Make your Resume Distinctive
- Trained several junior analysts on conducting network forensics and identifying hacking activity. (Training others talks about your leadership and also about your capacity to work on a team.)
- Created a process to identify new devices and alert the information security group within only 15 minutes of the device being connected to the network. (This new security measure sounds nice, and it’s a testimony to the employee’s desire to improve things.)
- Lead consultant for two large PCI-DSS compliance remediation projects, with a retail client (500 stores) and a restaurant chain (1200 locations). (There’s no real benefit written out here, but the large clients give that item a lot of credibility.)
- Saved $90,000 by implementing a process to reclaim licenses on the software used to grant root authority on Unix systems. (This isn’t focused on security or technical expertise, but it highlights business sense. All employers will be happy to hire someone that can save them thousands of dollars!)
- Personally assigned to several high visibility projects based on unique expertise with network forensics and malware. (This one says: “I’m reliable. People trust me.” The key part is “personally assigned.”)
The benefit is the key component of each accomplishment: improved operations, more money, demonstrated leadership and reliability, … Accomplishments like these are the most critical pieces of your resume. Now read that last sentence again, because that’s the best resume advice you’ll get this month.
If you’re a fantastic employee but your resume is silent on many of your accomplishments, you’ll end up behind a good employee whose accomplishments are all clearly laid out.
And for that matter, an average employee with weak accomplishments better know how to network, since the resume alone won’t pull its weight. (Actually, networking skills are critical to everyone’s job hunt. But I’m more of a resume guy, so let’s stick with the topic, if you don’t mind.)
Accomplishments are where it’s at. When you solve a problem, reduce costs, make something better/simpler/faster, when you show initiative, it has to be on your resume, without being drowned out by too much roles and responsibilities (i.e. the “we’ve-all-done-it” resume template material). In my view, half of the energy and time spent on your resume should be focused on your accomplishments. To write good accomplishments, you need to think of what your potential employer is thinking about (problems solved, better results, and so on) and emphasize that. If you go through 20 resumes of your peers, you’ll certainly find great accomplishments that you’ve done, but have forgotten to put on your resume. I truly believe that is a good use of your time.
Many More Accomplishments, Just for You
However, I’ve already done that research… The 5 ideas above are just a glimpse of the full list of accomplishments I’ve assembled. If you’d like that well-rounded, unique list of real-world information security accomplishments, for just a few dollars, check out our e-book, I.T. Security Resume Hacking, on Amazon. You can read it even if you don’t have a Kindle device.