Career Advice Tuesday – “First Runner Up”

October 27, 2009

Dear InfoSecLeaders:

I was just recently involved in an interview process for a desirable information security position.  I will admit that the position itself was a stretch, but I felt that it was the next logical step in my career.  I interviewed well, aced the technical component,  connected with the hiring manager, and made it to the final interview.

At the end, the human resource representative informed me that I was the second choice for the role.  From the feedback that I was provided, it led me to believe that the other candidate had more relevant information security experience.

Is there a way that I can overcome this, if I pursue a similar opportunity?


“First Runner Up”

Dear “First Runner Up”:

From your question, it appears that you have learned some valuable things from your interview experience, although you were not selected.  This is a good thing,  We are big believers that you learn more from your failures than your successes  It is good to reflect on your interview performance, and discover what you did well and where you can improve.

It appears that you have learned that their is some steep competition for good information security roles and that many information security professionals have similar career paths.   During an interview process, it is unlikely that you will have a glimpse into your competitors – but it is possible that they can be more experienced, more technical, better communicators, and better business skills.  When you interview – you have to assume that they have all of the above, so you need to prepare yourself to compete.

In the Information Security employment market place of the future, in order to be selected for the the most desirable information security career opportunities, you not only will have to be good; you will need to be better!

I would use this interview process as a chance to evaluate your skills and figure out where your true deficiencies are, that could possibly place you at a competitive disadvantage for these types of roles   Be honest with yourself when you go through this exercise.   Upon conclusion, select one or two areas that you believe are most critical, and make a conscious effort to develop them through career investments that can help separate you from your competition.

I know that you raised your primary concern regarding your amount of experience.   There are some hiring managers that hold this as their chief criteria for making decisions.  If this is the case, you will always lose out (until you acquire more experience).  However, if the hiring manger is using talent and skill as their primary criteria, solid career investments that differentiate you from others and demonstrate your aptitude and passion, could compensate for your lack of experience.

Hopefully, the next time you will get the job and “wear the crown!”

Hope this helps,

Lee and Mike

Posted by lee | Filed Under Advice, Career Advice Tuesday 


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