Infosec pros may know where they want their careers to go, but they aren't doing much about it.
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That's the key finding from a recent information security career survey conducted by Web-based consultancy firm Information Security Leaders. The survey tallied responses from nearly 1,000 IT security professionals on questions from career planning to job satisfaction.
While over 65% of respondents claimed to be "more than confident" that they would reach their ultimate career goals, only one in six respondents had actually written an information security career plan.
"People spend more time planning their vacations than they spend planning where they want to be 10 years from now in their careers," said Mike Murray, one of Information Security Leaders' co-founders. "It blows my mind."
IT security career advice:
Stay or jump ship? How to be happy with your infosec job: Don't leave your job just yet. Lee Kushner and Mike Murray suggest ways to maximize your role and stay satisfied with your career path.
Read all of Lee Kushner and Mike Murray's Information Security Career Advisor tips at searchsecurity.com/careerhelp.
Couple this with the fact that, of the 68.4% of respondents who reported that their career development was "very important" or "extremely important," more than half plan to spend less than $1,000 on that development in the following year, and it makes sense that job satisfaction among respondents was also surprisingly low.
"I was really surprised how many people were less than satisfied [with their current jobs], and why," said Lee Kushner, also co-founder of Information Security Leaders. "People seem to believe that their careers are going to take care of themselves…[many are] really confident that their resumes differentiate them from others. But I look at resumes all day long and that's pretty far from the truth."
Of the respondents, more than 50% reported that they are "less than satisfied" with their current job, while only 21% reported being "more than satisfied."
So what steps should infosec pros take to invest in their careers? "Any investment you make is a good one," said Kushner. "The investment for a person should be determined by what makes sense for them, and what makes sense is determined by going through a self-assessment process. … Look at job descriptions of the jobs you want, and map your skills to those." And if your skills don't match up, figure out what you need to do to get them there by evaluating your weaknesses. "You might think you understand business, but do you understand business on a level that would be good enough for the C-suite?"
But above all, "write a plan," said Murray. "You have to know where you're going in order to get there."
Of the infosec pros that reported having a written career plan, 38.4% responded that they held director-level or above positions, compared to 26% of those who had no written plan and held similar positions. Salaries were also better for those with written career plans: 35.7% of those who had such a plan make an annual salary of $120,000 or above, as opposed to only 24.4% of those who had no written career plan and made similar salaries.
"While we don't know whether it's causal or corollary [that people with written plans have better jobs and higher salaries], the people who actually write down a career plan [are those who] stick around the longest, are the best compensated, and the happiest," said Mike. "So it's worth it."