Planning to search for new security career opportunities in 2024? The strong labor market is forecasted to last into 2025. A job search can be frustrating and chaotic if you are unprepared. Devise your strategy now to give yourself a head start on your job search.

One factor that has the potential to affect the process is one you have no control over. It is the quality and experience of the hiring organization’s recruitment team and whether they have prior experience dealing with security-related executive and management roles. Very often talent acquisition (TA) professionals lack a deep understanding of the security positions they are recruiting for.

In this circumstance, it is beneficial for you as the candidate to clearly present your qualifications to someone who may recruit for one or two security roles across their TA career.

There is no training or professional certification to prepare you to become a professional job seeker. However, there are key points to consider if you hope to avoid classic job search mistakes.

1. Not knowing what you really want in your career.

This requires self-reflection to name those skills and activities that you enjoy and derive satisfaction from doing. Do not discount or minimize how much your personality and interpersonal style should factor into this. Knowing who you are will aid in identifying and selecting those roles that you want to invest your time in pursuing.

2. Exclusively focusing on replying to ads and posted positions.

While use of online job boards by both organizations and search firms has become commonplace at all levels today, you will find a disconnect in the reliability and timeliness of the information. Commercial job boards often scrape information from each other which leads to minimal verification of whether a job exists. They simply redate and repost the role.

Board algorithms routinely push out job matches to you with little accuracy as to whether you are a viable candidate for what the job is. This messaging is designed to add quantity for their client’s statistical reports rather than accurately find and match candidates.

Many also sell access to candidate resumes and profiles as a secondary profit center. The posting itself may be a good starting point. However, you should gather more information on the role and find another method of conveying your interest to the hiring authority.

3. Expecting one resume will be effective for all applications.

You need to develop a good, effective primary resume. If you want to maximize the potential of being considered for a particular role, select those areas in your experience and accomplishments that best reflect what the organization is looking for. This also helps you prepare for potential interviews as these are likely areas important to the hiring manager. A short cover letter and/or a well-constructed email is also particularly useful.

4. Applying for every role with a title.

The amount of information that is being pushed out directly to you electronically has become overwhelming. Once you have uploaded your profile or resume, it can be very tempting to just push the apply button to a listing. Read the description! Applying for a role where your background, qualifications, skills or desired location is not a match may well hurt your personal brand if seen by the hiring manager. For future consideration, there is a significant difference between registering on a company or recruiter’s system and applying because it is easy.

5. Not researching the role, company or industry.

Do not chase titles. The terms Chief Security Officer or Director of Security are two of the most misunderstood and overused titles in the security profession. Accountabilities, reporting relationships and the purpose of the role are key components to the level of position, and therefore should be a key factor in your evaluation. From the organization’s perspective, a candidate who does not have a good understanding of them, the industry and clients they support, will not likely be selected.

Finally, choose very carefully. Do not accept a position if you, or your trusted colleagues, have serious concerns about the hiring manager, organization or industry. If your new boss, or others in the leadership chain, are not transparent in answering your questions or seem disingenuous, pay attention to these red flags.

Winning the offer and beating out the competition may not necessarily prove to be a measure of success.