Companies such as IBM, Quorum Cyber, Santander and Advanced Computer Software are benefiting from the ex-military talent pool to fill cyber security or related skills gaps. With the right cyber training and investment, ex-military people bring well developed security skills and cultural diversity to organisations suffering from an acute shortage of cyber skills talent. Discover our shortlist of the most valuable soft skills needed for cyber security that military people likely already possess.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES EXIST IN CYBER SECURITY?
The pathways into cyber security are extensive and it can be quite daunting when trying to decide which roles to go into. The most important thing to note is that ‘spray and pray’ does not work. You need to focus on the destination job, or at least narrow it down to 2 or 3, then you can start to look at the steps you need to take to get there.
Below is a list of the top 10 entry or mid-level cyber security jobs that are best suited to military people:
SOC Analyst or Manager
Incident Response Analyst or Manager
Information Assurance Manager
Penetration Tester or Vulnerability Analyst
Threat Intelligence Analyst of Manager
Digital Forensics Analyst
Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) Manager
Fraud and Financial Crime Analyst or Examiner
To find out more about the job profiles within Cyber Security, click here.
But which pathway do you choose? You’ll need to do your research to find out more about what each of these cyber security roles entail and which might be of interest to you, what salary you can expect from cyber security roles and the ‘destination jobs’ they are likely to lead to. Our Introduction to Cyber course is a great starting point – it is designed to give you an insight into the cyber security industry and a basic understanding of the career opportunities available. And our 2022 launched cyber security jumpstart programme is a great starting point for a number of in-demand roles in cyber security.
Have a think about what roles you might be best suited to. And, look at what skills, qualifications and experience you’ve got under your belt and think about how these could apply too. Our guide on how to pick a career after the military is really valuable in helping you with this challenge.
Once you’ve decided on your route, you’ll notice that each of these roles will require different qualifications, pre-requisite cyber training and experience. So take a moment to research what employers are looking for and start to think about where the gaps on your CV lie. Many companies that offer cyber training, insight days and work experience specifically for military veterans, so read on to find out more about these opportunities and how to get your hands on them.
HOW DO I FILL MY CYBER SKILLS GAPS?
Your military experience and skills are valuable when looking to get into cyber security but it is also important to remember it is unlikely you’ll walk into a role (though it’s not impossible) without some civilian experience, qualifications and training behind you. Though technical qualifications aren’t necessarily essential, it is worth exploring what other training you can undertake to make sure you really stand out from other job applicants. Our guide on which courses to take to get you into a career in cyber security will be useful for anyone looking to get into the sector.
TRANSLATE YOUR MILITARY SKILLS AND TRAINING
It is likely that some of your military training is actually very beneficial to commercial employers but it may need translating into ‘civvy language’ so that they can understand what you have to offer. The best way to do this is to start by listing out all your relevant hard and soft skills – your soft skills are non-technical skills such as communication, leadership, motivation and problem solving.
Next you’ll have to assess your skills from a civilian perspective – it might help to ask your family and/or friends to look at your list of skills and to give you feedback on how they would present them for a CV. Remember that you’ll also need to break down or translate your military job titles and any military-specific acronyms too so that civilian employers can understand what you did and achieved – never just assume that they will know what they mean.
ADD RECOGNISABLE QUALIFICATIONS TO YOUR PORTFOLIO
Qualifications are not essential, so don’t panic if you don’t have any relevant ones but equally, there are a number of qualifications and training you can get – either while still in the military or when you have left. Getting some qualifications or completing some cyber training – even if it is basic – will to help make you a more competitive candidate.
There are hundreds of courses and qualifications you could choose so it is important to look at your options. Carefully consider which area of cyber security you want to work in before choosing which courses you want to take as different roles will require different skills and training. Of course, if you are unsure you can enrol on our cyber security fundamentals course, which will give you an idea of the career opportunities available in the sector.
HOW DO I SOLVE THE ‘LACK OF EXPERIENCE’ BARRIER?
When you read job descriptions, you’ll see many of them require commercial experience in order to get into even some of their entry-level positions. So if you haven’t already, we always recommend gaining work experience with a company that offers cyber security opportunities.
Work experience and internships can play a vital role in strengthening your CV and can undoubtedly make you become more employable by building your own skillset as well as showcasing your strengths and experience to potential employers. You can also gain important insights about a job role, an employer and whether this is really the right path for you.
GET SOME COMMERCIAL EXPERIENCE
Many employers offer work placement opportunities for veterans to help you get an insight into the commercial world. Have a look to see if you can find companies that offer these for veterans interested in going into cyber security. Here are a few ways you can go about getting that valuable commercial experience that many employers might be looking for:
Networking is important as you will be able to find out who offers these opportunities. If you like a company there is always no harm in asking too, as some employers may be keen to help you gain experience that could lead to employment.
Armed Forces Covenant
Take a look at companies that have signed the AFC – make sure you check out our Forces-friendly directory, which lists all these supportive employers and their live opportunities – and get in touch to see what work experience or job shadowing opportunities they offer.
Many of the organisations we work with are keen to offer the job shadowing and mentoring opportunities to members of the Armed Forces community. Many of these opportunities will be listed on our website. However, if nothing is listed it would still be worth getting in touch with the organisation you’re interested in as they might well be able to help.
DO AN APPRENTICESHIP
There is often a belief that apprenticeships are only open to teenagers just out of college but there is no upper age limit. Barclays, for example, has a well-known veteran apprenticeship programme – open to candidates of all ages and military ranks – that spans all aspects of the business including cyber security. Follow this link for further tips on how to find a cyber security internship.
Do not be put off by these opportunities – and also the wage. You may only be paid minimum wage for the short time, or if it’s work experience, no wage at all - but try and remember you will gain commercial experience you may never have had and the networking you do within that short period could lead to a cyber security job there then – or in the future.
ATTEND AN INSIGHT DAY
Designed to give you a feel for a sector or specific organisation, insight days can be a very useful stepping stone to get you to where you want to be. If you are weighing up which career or industry sector might be for you, then attending an insight day could be invaluable as it will provide you with the information you’ll need to learn more about the industry and the career paths it can offer. Many insight days also outline the training programmes and opportunities that are on offer to help you secure a job within the organisation.
Insight days also provide a great opportunity to network, so make sure you go prepared to make connections with future employers and fellow veterans who might be able to help and support you along the way.
Many companies run regular insight days. It is worth keeping an eye on the Officer’s Association Insight Event page or the CTP events list as they are frequently updated with good options across all sectors. For cyber-specific options these companies often host a good insight day:
GETTING A JOB IN CYBER SECURITY
Now that you understand what career path you’re interested in and you feel that you’ve got the sufficient skills and experience, it’s time to find yourself a cyber security job. So where do you start?
UPDATE YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE
Essentially, the more you include in your LinkedIn profile, the more likely you are to be found by recruiters and employers. Also, you’ll want to be sure that your profile is a good summary of your full skillset and experience as many recruiters and employers will click on your profile to learn more about you and what people think of you. So, don’t be negligent – make sure you fill out every section of your LinkedIn profile.
Tailoring your LinkedIn profile to cyber security roles and showcasing your skills and experience is important. It means potential employers will be able to see not only your ambition to begin a career in cyber but also why your experience sets you apart from others. As SaluteMyJob’s Managing Director wrote in his military transition tips: Make sure your LinkedIn profile is better than your CV!
CREATE A STAND-OUT YOUR CV
Your CV has 30 seconds to impress an employer so make sure it stands out and is clear and easy to read. We’ve outlined our top tips below:
Have the key information at the start.
Avoid military language & abbreviations where you can. Be sure to translate your military skills into ‘civvy language’.
Keep it short (no longer than 2 pages).
Make sure it’s easy to read and avoid fancy fonts and layouts. There is no perfect layout but our CV template is a great place to start.
Check your spelling and grammar - there must be NO typos. Make sure your spellchecker is set to the UK version of English and not the USA version.
Create one master version of your CV, then tailor it for each job you apply for.
Always submit your CV under a covering letter.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Make a list of target companies that you want to work for and organisations that have pledged to employ veterans. Over 6000 organisations have now signed the Armed Forces Covenant so it’s worth doing your research to see which ones are employing ex-military people. Check out our Forces-friendly directory for a complete list. We’ve also compiled a list of the top 10 companies hiring veterans for cyber security jobs, which might help you to find a few good opportunities.
Once you’ve got your target list, start to connect with the relevant employees on LinkedIn – think about their HR department, cyber security department and other ex-military employees.
Network, network, network! One of, if not the most important thing to do before you leave and when you have left the Armed Forces is to network. Also, it’s always worth reaching out to former colleagues and friends who are now in cyber security roles and linking up with your Corps or Regimental Association and their social media groups. If you don’t know where to start our SaluteMyJob VetsNet Facebook group is a great place to connect with other veterans who will be able to offer advice and support.
WHERE TO FIND CYBER SECURITY JOBS
It can be hard to know where to start when looking for a cyber security job when leaving the Forces. Fortunately, there are lots of organisations that are well-placed to help you make this transition. Here are some of the best places to start:
1. Recruitment Companies
SaluteMyJob specialises in the recruitment of ex-military people into cyber security jobs. We are proud to sit in the Defence Recognition scheme gold alumni group alongside 350 employers. We have connections with many employers specifically interested in hiring people with military skills and experience. Take a look at our job opportunities here or sign up to our job alerts to make sure you are kept up to date with new roles.
There are many other companies that specialise in finding jobs for veterans. It is good practice keep an eye on a few different job boards and recruitment companies to make sure that you don’t miss any opportunities.
2. Your Corps or Regimental Association
Your regimental association or corps are very well connected places and are well-worth checking out to see if they currently advertise any relevant vacancies. If they don’t have a specific jobs board they may have social media groups which you could get involved in and start to network with former colleagues.
3. IT and Cyber-specific Jobs Boards
There are many jobs boards on the web these days and it’s tricky to sift through the riff-raff. However, some of them are well worth looking into and we recommend looking at cyber specific jobs boards.
TechVets is an online community of veterans helping veterans in the tech sector. It provides a bridge to help Veterans and service leavers into the cyber security and technology sector.
LinkedIn is a great place to look for cyber opportunities and also expand your networking contacts.
6. Service Charities
Many service charities and organisations offer employment support for the Armed Forces Community and run jobs boards with vacancies targeted towards your skill sets and experience. Take a read through our article showcasing a shortlist of some of the most noteworthy service charities and organisations offering careers support to the Armed Forces community.
7. Your Target Organisations
As part of your research, you will have complied a list of organisations that you aspire to work for. Reach out to these organisations to see whether they have any jobs in the pipeline. If they don’t have anything suitable it might be worth asking them to keep your speculative CV on file in case an opportunity comes up in the future. Take a read through our shortlist of the top companies hiring veterans for cyber jobs.
Working in partnership with RFEA, CTP helps Service leavers of all ranks, trades and backgrounds to find and remain in work. If eligible, Service leavers can access this veteran employment transition support service from their local Resettlement Centre for up to two years after their military discharge date. They often list IT security and cyber jobs on their job board so make sure you’re signed up and keep an eye on here.
READY FOR A CAREER IN CYBER SECURITY?
Cyber security has been one of the leading sectors in 2020 and is predicted to continue to grow, with a world of opportunities for the Armed Forces community within this evolving sector. From data analysts, to threat intelligence - there are a huge number of pathways to choose from. Many employers are seeking people like you with generalist military skills and experience. So, you are already a strong candidate but make sure you are a stand-out candidate by checking that you’ve got all the necessary cyber training, relevant qualifications and commercial work experience that many of these employers are looking for.
If you’re ready to find out more about how to kick-start your cyber career, look at our innovative cyber jumpstart programme and check out our dedicated get into cyber career path on Skillsbuild. To gain access to this free programme of courses and training, all you have to do is register with Skillsbuild through SaluteMyJob here.