With women earning up to 30% more than men in cyber security, it is a great career path. But women make up less than 15% of the industry. So how can you take advantage of this to move your career forward quickly? And if you are a man in cyber, what should you do so you don’t miss out?
Part of the reason women in cyber are earning more, is that women typically bring non-technical skills to their role. With so few women in the industry already, a lot are coming from a different risk management background, rather than the IT or graduate route. Continue to develop these skills as they are in demand! Being able to communicate a technical issue to a non-technical colleague, is one of the most highly rated skills in IT. If you can do this and continue to improve on this skill, perhaps by working with more senior stakeholders or by starting an awareness programme, you will increase your market worth.
The ability to sell yourself or your company, will always get you far. This doesn’t mean you need to be in a sales job but means that you know the USP’s of your business or department. If you work in consulting, think about how you could expand the services that your business offers and how you could be involved in suggesting that to the client. If you are in an end-user environment, can you sell the benefits of your department to other parts of the business or customers? And make sure you take the credit! Selling your own capabilities can feel uncomfortable, but you need to be able to state how good you are. In my experience, if you start to feel a little awkward, you are probably hitting the right level.
Find out as much as you can about the industry. Read research papers, insights from others in the industry and industry press. The bad guys are also reading the same information and working out ways to get around it so it is essential that you have as much knowledge as possible. Being able to follow trends and get ahead of them, will get you noticed and move your career forward quicker. This continued learning, will hopefully give you career satisfaction, as well as the rewards.
Networking is essential for moving your career forward quickly. Network with your colleagues internally but also get involved in groups outside of the business. There are organisations for women in security, women in IT as well as cyber security focussed organisations like ISSA. Build your network so that your skills stay up to date and you are always first to hear about new opportunities.
If you are moving jobs, or negotiating a pay increase, make sure you negotiate to a level you are satisfied with. It is great that women are being paid more at the moment, but cyber security is bucking the trend. Part of the reason that women in other industries do not have pay equality, is that they do not negotiate well, or early enough. At the moment, the money is being offered up but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push for more, or negotiate other areas that are important to you.
To all the men in cyber security jobs
Don’t panic! There is much you can do to ensure that you are not left behind and are being paid the correct amount. For instance, enhance the skills that you have outside of your technical capability. Play to your strengths and work on the skills that are most relevant to you. Could you do more to sell your company’s services? Could you improve the way you communicate to the business, so that non-technical people can understand you? What about promoting your company through an awards programme? Or could you join a group or work scheme that will help encourage new people into the industry.
Also, keep an eye on the jobs market. A job aggregator can give you access to a large amount of job and salary information with just a few minutes worth of effort. Or review the website of a specialist recruiter such as BeecherMadden. This will tell you whether it is time to move on, or if you might be able to negotiate a pay increase.