In March, we looked at circumstances that might mean you may need to find a new security job quickly. This month, we are giving you steps to ensure you have a solid backup plan in place should you need one.

No one wants to find themselves with their backs to the wall, pressured to take the first job offered. However, do not immediately blast resumes to every job you see. Take a breath and consider these six questions:

  1. What are your near-term aims and long-term career goals?
  2. What are your immediate and long-range financial requirements for a new job?
  3. Are you and your family willing to move?
  4. What is your assessment of your personal characteristics, competencies and operational skills?
  5. Is there diversity of roles within your area of specialization that your experience would match?
  6. Do you have a strategy for identification of and communicating about new roles?

Once you have the short answers to these questions, you will be able to find a better job — faster.

Now, take a deeper dive:

  • Analyze your professional environment.
    Often security professionals find themselves trapped in jobs by coincidence or default. Are you where you want to be, and is this the direction you want your career to go?

    Take a good, hard look at the overall security profession and target where you genuinely want work. Security programs vary across industry segments and not all companies value the impact security has on an organization. Network with your peers and reach out to leaders in your field to gain insight into programs in which you can have the most meaningful impact.

  • Salaries are not always tied to the job title.
    Companies often have complex pay bands and salary structures in place to keep like-level positions in parity. And while there are standards in place for security roles such as Chief Security Officer, the title itself does not necessarily tie to the salary. A CSO in a small company would not expect to have the same salary expectations as one in a multinational. Know what your realistic salary expectations are based on your experience and gauge which organizations might be a good match for you.

  • Ask about and honor your family’s wishes.
    Figure out whether your family is on board with moving if needed. If not, then the location of your next new job is pre-determined. If they are, but not until one of your children is out of school, then you are looking for potential short-term housing as part of your compensation package. No company wants to spend months finding their ideal candidate only to have the individual turn them down because relocation is not an option.

  • Set aside time for introspection.
    A job interview is about making a connection and selling a product. That product is you.

    Start by making a complete list of every major career accomplishment and its resulting impact. Ask colleagues, family and friends what they see as your strengths. Organize it all into relatable categories such as leadership, organizational development, technical skills, etc. Then, formulate a strategic list of everything you have to offer an organization. Do not be surprised if this takes a long time to create. Being able to clearly articulate your capabilities will get you invited to the interview.

    When you get there, two of the most frequent questions recruiters ask candidates are “Where do you want to be in five years?” and “What is your ideal job”? Develop clear and concise answers to these before an interviewer asks you.

  • Get the word out!
    Now you know where you want to go and what you have to offer, put together the words you are going to use to get the job. Your resume or CV alone is not enough.

    Create a concise position statement you can use to summarize yourself in about 20 seconds. Use it to tell people about yourself quickly or as a lead at the top of your resume. Next, think through your exit statement, the reason you have either left or are leaving your job. Be prepared to deliver it with no hesitation.

    A professional background summary in a one-page narrative makes a great marketing tool and is less formal than a resume. It should be compelling and reflect continued growth both as an individual and as a security professional.

    Last — and this is important — keep your resume or CV and your professional social media profile in sync. Disconnects in employment dates, job titles and education mean you may not be considered for something you are interested in and qualified for.

Searching for a new security job can be tedious and time consuming in the best of circumstances. If you are doing it on an accelerated schedule, it is important to maximize your efforts and create a clear focus for the limited time you have. If you have already done the contingency planning, you will be ready to hit the ground running quickly.