I Want This Job

I eventually want to get a job like this in cyber security.


That’s what Joe, a sophomore at Illinois State, recently told me.

“Why wait?  Why not do it now?” I asked.

Joe said he wasn’t qualified.  Companies wouldn’t hire him without experience.


Sound familiar?


I’ve been there too.  I wanted to work in sports, but I didn’t have experience.  I wanted to work at a startup, but I didn’t have experience.


So how do you get the experience you need to get the job you want?


Here’s how.

  1. Identify the top 2 skills needed in the job you want.

  2. Find companies that have problems that those skills solve.

  3. Go to those companies and offer to solve their problems for a fraction of the cost (or free).

  4. Solve those problems and gain the skills.

  5. Connect with hiring managers at companies where you want to work.  Tell them about the problems you solved.

  6. Tell the hiring managers how you can solve similar problems for their clients.


Here’s the game plan Joe and I crafted to help him crack into the cyber security industry.

A)  Skills

In cyber security, you need to be able to assess technical vulnerabilities and implement a plan to mitigate risks of security breaches.


B)  Companies with problems

State Farm is headquartered near the campus of Illinois State University.  State Farm absolutely needs to invest in cyber security, but it’s highly unlikely they’d hire Joe without experience.


So Joe and I decided the next best thing is to target local insurance agents.  They need to protect themselves against cyber threats. 


C)  Connect with companies and offer to solve problems

Insurance agents are easy to spot.  You see their headshots in ads all over town.  Joe will find 10 local insurance agents on LinkedIn.

He’ll send this LinkedIn InMail message to all 10 agents.


“Hi (insert first name),


This is a shot in the dark.  Would you be willing to chat with an ISU student about cyber security?


I operate a cyber security club at ISU.  We offer local businesses a free technical assessment and look for potential cyber security risks.


Got any interest?


Joe (insert last name)

Cyber Security Student

Illinois State University”


D)  Solve their problems

It’s likely that Joe will get 1 out of 10 people interested.  Once he gets one company to say yes, he’s in business.  Now he has to do the work. 


Guess what?  Joe doesn’t know how to do the work. 


Google it.  Chances are Joe can find a step-by-step tutorial on how to actually do the work that he said he could do.

Follow the tutorial.  Solve problems.


E)  Connect with hiring managers

Ok. Now Joe has one happy client.  He conducted the security audit and implemented a plan to mitigate security risks.  Joe’s smart so he gets his first client to write a testimonial.


Now he can leverage this experience to get the attention of the hiring manager at his dream company.

How do you find the hiring manager?

  1. Find the job opening you want.

  2. Search LinkedIn to find someone with that title at your chosen company.

  3. Look at that person’s connections on LinkedIn to find someone he/she is connected to that has a manager type title.

Once Joe finds a hiring manager, he can send this LinkedIn InMail message.

“Hi (insert first name),


I see you’re hiring for (insert job title).


I just completed a cyber security project with (insert client’s name and company).  He has this to say about me.


(Insert client testimonial)


Could I get 15 minutes of your time to show you how I can solve similar cyber security problems for your customers?


Joe (insert last name)”


F)  Show hiring managers what you did

If Joe sends the message above to 10 hiring managers, it’s highly likely he’ll get at least one interview. 


He should use that interview to explain his experience with his one cyber security client.  This includes his strategy for getting the client, the problem itself, and how he solved the problem.

From there, Joe can explain how he can leverage this experience to help the hiring manager’s current customers.


This approach will generate employment offers.


It can be applied to almost any job in any industry.


It just requires you to take initiative and solve problems…which is exactly what companies want.