If a job is worth having, you probably aren't the only one applying for the position. The trick to getting your foot in the door at the job of your dreams may not be as difficult as you think. You don't need to know the CEO of the company or be the most qualified person in the industry. According to Helen Gumpry of EuroTech recruiters, the key to getting ahead of the competition is your resume.
"More often than not, I find myself with a stack of resumes a mile high, and there is no way that I would have the time to scrutinize each one. If an applicant's resume impresses me in the first 30 seconds, they are miles ahead of their competition," Gumpry said. "All too often, resumes that come across my desk are a biography of the individual's entire life. I would have to spend a great deal of time going through each resume to pick out the important parts. I simply don't have time to do that."
Most security professionals have worked in other sectors and industries. That work is largely unimportant and should be de-emphasized in the resume. "I want to see certifications and skills specific to the position listed at the top of the resume in a bulleted list," Gumpry said. "For instance, if I am reviewing resumes for an Internet security administrator, I want to see certifications and experience related to the specific position such as Unix administration, Win2K certification and firewall experience at the top of the resume."
Here's a quick tip on how to do this, according to Gumpry: Draw two columns and enter every non-related skill and job you've held in the left column. Enter every job related to the specific position in the right column. So, positions in which you have had experience with firewalls and MSCE certifications would go in the right column. Your former job as the manager of a department store is not specific to any position for a security professional and so it would go into the left column. When you have finished your list, compare it to your resume. Make certain that items listed in the left column are not near the top of your resume.
This is one of the most difficult challenges people face when drafting their resumes. People want to include things that they are proud of at the top of the resume. Rather than writing your resume from your point of view, write it from the point of view of your future employer. Ask yourself, "Is this relevant to my competency as a security professional?" If the answer is no, save it for the bottom of the resume.
Another part of the resume to focus on is your profile, which is a concise bulleted list directly beneath your name. This list should be constructed so that a potential employer can evaluate your qualifications simply by reading the list. Think of it as the first 5 minutes of a television show. Your profile needs to convince recruiters and employers not to change the channel. It should encourage them to read the rest of your resume. Only include elements from the right column of your self skills assessment.
Certification dates are also a very important part of any security professional's resume, according to William Horowitz, a recruiter for Silicon Solutions, who hires 3-5 security professionals per month for companies in the Midwest. "Demands on people in security positions are changing constantly and that requires job applicants to be on top of the latest developments," Horowitz said. "The problem is that without certification dates on your resume, I don't know how current your skills and knowledge are."
Many people spend long hours keeping certifications current but they rarely add the dates to their resume. If you add dates to your resume, you will be one step ahead of those who didn't because recruiters will know instantly that your knowledge and skills are current.
Remember, a properly prepared resume can move you from the "no" pile to the interview room.
Horn is a contributing editor from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.