Understanding the secrets to building and advancing careers is a common topic of discussion and debate amongst the hundreds of security professionals we’ve had the good fortune to meet in our respective careers. Private sector security is still working to define itself, and this complicates the quest. It can appear at times that the processes in place are arbitrary and capricious, and trying to find your path in this environment may lead some to take a shotgun approach to career planning… to their detriment.

Chasing the latest security trend or theme rarely results in a path to success. Similar to the successful design of a product or business, there is a need to invest considerable time in the identification of objectives. Research of the market allows you to carefully evaluate materials and resources that will result in a well-crafted plan allowing you to move forward on a strategy.

Following are key processes found within each phase of a well-designed career plan:


  • Identify and understand your value and skills, competencies and interests.
  • Identify all the elements and roles that comprise your desired career aspirations.
  • Determine your financial requirements in comparison to the roles you seek.
  • Focus on mapping the above to the elements within your target professional role(s).
  • Set clear goals based on your strengths, personal characteristics and circumstances.
  • Always know your next steps and have backup plans.
  • Obtain new learning and skills you will need. (This is a continuous life-long process.)
  • Establish a diverse communication network. (Not just social media contacts.)


  • Survey the professional environment.
  • Gather relevant market information.
  • Define your target market (Industry, Size, Organization Culture, Geography).
  • Determine professional objectives (both vertically and horizontally within organizations).
  • Create a strategy.
  • Develop your message, written materials and needed resumes/CVs.


  • Develop a plan and get your message out.
  • Talk with colleagues, peers and hiring managers.
  • Identify and use a variety of search methods.
  • Interview, cultivate offers and negotiate. (This applies both internally and externally.)
  • Transition into your new role.

This is the first in a series of articles designed to help you strategically plan for a rewarding career in security. In the coming months, we’ll expand upon the areas above in order to help you better navigate the sometimes challenging and highly personal aspects of intentional career design.