Employer-Ready Criteria for Cybersecurity Career Starters

Resume Criteria

Content

Heading

Include name, phone number, professional email address (not Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, or university), city and state, zip code, and full hyperlinks to LinkedIn.

Summary

  • Title of role pursuing (do not identify as a student).
  • Background experience that connects to the role you are pursuing.
  • 2-3 technical skills and cybersecurity certifications and/or security clearance (if applicable).
  • Years of related experience (keep below 10 years).
  • Accomplishments, recognitions, and/or awards.

Skills

  • Includes technical and cybersecurity skills sections. Ensure programming languages and/or technologies conform to standard spelling and style for the industry.
  • Focus on industry-specific skills obtained in the program.

Projects

  • Include three of your strongest projects
  • Include a brief description for each project (1-2 lines)
  • Include skills / concepts / methodologies (etc.) used
  • Include a written URL to GitHub and/or a project description (if applicable)

Experience

  • Experience listed in reverse chronological order, with job title, job description, company name, city and state, and dates of employment. 
  • If applicable, include previous IT experience.
  • Start every bullet with an action verb; don’t use the same verb more than once.
  • Cite accomplishments, recognitions, and/or awards (do not list job duties).
  • Bullets are concise, direct, and listed in order of importance.
  • Quantify work as much as possible, eg. “200 tickets closed per month”.
  • Briefly define job role and team size where it gives context to the scope and depth of your work.

Education

  • Education listed at the end of the resume unless you don’t have much experience or you have particularly relevant degrees.
  • Include the program as the most recent item in education. List any boot camp as a certificate.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

  • Include standard heading titles (Education, Projects, Technical Skills, Summary, Experience).
  • Spell out acronyms and abbreviations (abbreviated months are acceptable).
  • Use bullets instead of asterisks. 
  • Avoid images, icons, or photographs.
  • Avoid colored text.
  • Avoid columns, tables, text boxes, and graphs.
  • Use keywords that match the job description and align with required skills needed for each specific role.

Design and Format

Simplicity

  • No template language or blank areas.
  • Design does not get in the way of necessary text/content.
  • Text fills the page without overcrowding.
  • Balanced margins, between 0.5” – 1.”
  • No more than one page if new to the field, two pages if have relevant experience.
  • Make your name and headlines stand out.
  • Few (or no) hanging lines (where just a few words take up an entire line).

Consistency

  • Font size of 11 or 12.
  • Consistent and professional font style. It’s okay to use different fonts for the headings and body. Professional font styles include: Arial, Calibri, Cambria, Georgia, Helvetica, Times New Roman.
  • Consistent use of bold, italic, and underline; same bullet point style for all lists.

Accuracy

  • Consistent punctuation throughout.
  • No grammar errors; no spelling errors.
  • No personal pronouns (I, we, he, or she).
  • Abbreviations or acronyms are not used unless necessary.
  • No jargon, slang, or superlative adjectives like “great,” “good,” or “awesome.”

LinkedIn Profile Criteria

Compelling Introduction

  • Professional profile photo. 
  • Customized background image. 
  • Up-to-date contact information (email). 
  • Catchy headline that incorporates target role. 
  • Clear summary statement that speaks to experience, background, and professional qualifications.

Experience and Education

  • Experience listed in reverse chronological order with job title, job description, company name, city & state, and dates of employment. 
  • Experience section includes accomplishments—not just job duties. 
  • Education section in reverse chronological order—include the program as a certificate.

Skills, Recommendations, Accomplishments, and Interests

  • These sections give a fuller picture of who you are.
  • At least 20 skills, both technical and transferable. 
  • At least 2-4 recommendations that attest to your skill set and work ethic. 
  • At least 2-3 projects highlighted with working links (if applicable).
  • At least 20 interests displayed, with a mix of personal and professional interests.

Accuracy

  • All spelling is accurate with consistent punctuation. 
  • Tone consistent throughout. 
  • All links work.

Professional Brand Statement Criteria

Concise

Consists of 75-150 words.  Keep it focused and make every line count.

Targets Role

First line presents you in your desired role. Avoid identifying as a student (as you will use this after graduation). Ex: Data Protection Analyst, Security Analyst, Cybersecurity Engineer.

Includes Education

Includes only relevant degrees, certifications, and/or trainings. Make sure you include the boot camp to demonstrate your technical training. Ex: Certificate in cybersecurity from XYZ University.

Includes Skills and Strengths

Includes 3-5 relevant technical skills and professional strengths that align with a desired role.

  • If available, use the job description to determine the best skills to include.
  • Show how you have applied these skills and strengths in previous roles or projects.

Demonstrates Value

Showcases professional or academic achievements, accomplishments, successful projects, and recognitions. Hint: Aim for professional, but if you lack professional experience, pull from academics.

Includes Motivation/Aim

Determine what motivates you professionally. What end results do you hope to achieve in your role?

Positions Yourself

Sell, don’t summarize! Connect how your past experience, skills, and/or training have prepared you for your desired role. This is where you can provide examples to support your claims. Hint: To demonstrate that you are a team player, give an example of working successfully in a team environment. Show outcomes of your work.

Presentation

No spelling or grammatical errors. No slang. No redundant word choices. Varied sentence structure. 


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