Writing materials

Dos and Don’ts of Writing an Outstanding Cybersecurity Resume

Cybersecurity concept -- the hand points to a lock symbol.

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Looking to apply for cybersecurity jobs? The competition is fierce, so you’ll need an edge. Cybersecurity is a growing field — the United States Reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that information security analysts can anticipate job growth of 33% between 2020 and 2030.

The good news is that you can increase your competitiveness with an effective cybersecurity resume.

Read on to learn how to write a succinct, quantitative, and comprehensive cybersecurity resume that will help you stand out among thousands of applicants.

Important: Tailor your resume to each cybersecurity job

A big part of preparing for your application is tailoring your resume to each role you’re applying for.

Highlight recurring keywords and important skills and responsibilities mentioned in the job posting. Then tap them into your resume. Including the keywords can help your resume rank better when it goes through the Applicant Tracking System.

For example, if a listing mentions skills in penetration testing, mention your experience performing those tests in your skills section.

Remember that many tech companies receive thousands of applications every week. Getting a job interview depends on including scannable information that a hiring manager will see immediately. Make it easy for them to see, in seconds, that you have the skills they need.

How to format your resume in cybersecurity

Format your resume according to industry expectations. While you can certainly use a little color, don’t be flashy with unusual colors, graphics, and fonts.

Keep the overall aesthetic clean and professional. To improve readability, ensure consistent spacing between lines and sections. Leave lots of white space – large blocks of text are hard to read.

Limit your resume to one page. If you have many years of experience, limit yourself to two pages.

List your employment/experience history in reverse chronological order. This keeps the focus on where you got to rather than everything leading up to that point. Stick to a simple and intuitive layout, like a one- or two-column format.

You will need to include the following in any cybersecurity resume:

  • On your mind
  • Summary/objective
  • Professional experience
  • Skills
  • Projects
  • Education

On your mind

The header is where you put your name, work email address, and home phone number for employers. Optional information includes your:

  • Home Address
  • Link to LinkedIn profile
  • GitHub profile link
  • Online coding portfolio/link to personal website

Creating hyperlinks to relevant websites can help you by quickly directing employers to documents that highlight your skills and professional connections.

Resume Summary/Objective

A resume summary or objective provides insight into your professional qualifications. A summary typically focuses on how your experiences align with the job description, while an objective states your career goals and expectations.

This section should not exceed three sentences or two bullet points/paragraphs.

You can maximize the effectiveness of this section by discussing the skills and experiences mentioned in the job listing or relevant to the industry in which you will be working.

If you do not have prior cybersecurity experience:

If you’re applying for an entry-level role and lack professional cybersecurity experience, fear not. You can fill out this section by talking about past education and personal traits that you think qualify you for the job in two or three sentences.

Some positive traits you can mention include:

  • Curiosity
  • Awareness
  • Empathy
  • Professionalism

Professional experience

You can have a greater impact on the work history section of your resume by using a “show, don’t tell” philosophy.

Briefly summarize your professional achievements and contributions to different workplaces.

Whenever possible, use the STAR method to talk about how you handled different workplace issues and situations. (For a detailed explanation of the method, in which you summarize the situation, your task, the action you took, and the result, see our article on how to answer behavioral interview questions.)

Talk about the quantitative results of your actions, such as higher quarterly earnings. Use specific numbers whenever possible.

Also remember to use action verbs when writing this section.

Highlight accomplishments that match the hard and soft skills mentioned in the job listing. If the job involves cybersecurity engineering, talk about the use of programming in previous jobs. If the job emphasizes solo work, talk about work experiences where you’ve worked primarily independently.

Finally, this section should include experiences relevant to the job in question. Focus primarily on roles related to cybersecurity, software engineering, and information technology.

Professional skills

The skills section should be organized according to its relevance to the job you are applying for. For example, if the position has a strong emphasis on IT skills, list network architecture expertise as one of your technical skills.

Use a bulleted list of skills of one or two words, rather than sentences. Minimize mentions of people’s skills (“soft”) – a bulleted list doesn’t give enough context to convince a manager that your self-assessments are accurate. Instead, discuss the people’s skills in your cover letter.

Tori Rubloff/ZDNet

Education

The education section of your resume should mention every school, degree, and certificate you have completed.

Once you’ve graduated from college and have a few years of work experience under your belt, you don’t need to list your GPA. The same goes for notable academic achievements such as club memberships, honor roll, etc. These are only really relevant to recent graduates.

Be sure to mention any cybersecurity training you’ve taken, such as coding bootcamps and continuing education.

Other relevant sections you can include

Certificates

Consider including a section detailing the technical certifications you have obtained. These can impress employers who want to see your skills in specific areas of expertise, such as penetration testing or information security.

Awards and Achievements

Mention awards and accomplishments if they are related to the job you are applying for. Show employers that you’ve gone above and beyond in the positions you’ve held. Be sure to explain why each award honors people, rather than just naming them, especially if they’re company-specific.

Volunteering

Volunteer experiences may be relevant to your cybersecurity resume if you’re applying for a nonprofit tech job. Nonprofit organizations will appreciate your willingness to leverage your nonprofit skills.

Security permissions

Your cybersecurity resume can benefit from mentioning any security clearances you hold, especially if you’re applying for a government job that might require typical applicants to obtain clearances.

Languages ​​you speak

If you are applying for a position in an international company, mention your foreign language skills. This shows your ability to communicate with ESL team members in other languages, which is often helpful.

Professional organizations with which you participate

If there is space, list any professional organizations you belong to on your cybersecurity resume. Employers want to see your dedication to a larger community and to your profession.

Courses you have taken

You can also mention any courses you have taken, such as online courses or continuing education courses. An example might be MOOCs that show your dedication to learning but don’t award credit or certification.

This article has been reviewed by Monali Mirel Chuatico

Monali Mirel Chuatico, a woman with long black hair, smiles in a headshot.

In 2019, Monali Mirel Chuático earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science, which gave her the foundation she needed to excel in roles such as data engineer, front-end developer, UX designer, and computer science instructor.

Monali is currently a Data Engineer at Mission Lane. As a data analytics captain at a non-profit organization called CO-OP careersMonali helps new graduates and young professionals overcome underemployment by teaching them data analytics tools and mentoring them on their professional development journey.

Monali is passionate about implementing creative solutions, building community, advocating for mental health, empowering women and educating young people. Monali’s goal is to gain more experience in her field, broaden her skills and do meaningful work that will have a positive impact on the world.

Monali Mirel Chuatico is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Last revised April 28, 2022.