At some point in their career, most security executives make the decision to seek out new employment opportunities. Regardless of the catalyst for change, job seekers in today’s marketplace need to prepare for what can sometimes be a chaotic and frustrating experience. No matter your background or qualifications, a job search has the potential to be one of the most demeaning experiences of your professional life.

There are two key factors that have impact on this process. One is the quality and experience level of corporate recruitment teams you will come into contact with, together with their skill level at recruitment of management and executive-level roles. The second is your own ability to put together a relevant resume and undertake a search, given that it may have been many years since you last had to do so.

There is no clear path to develop you into an expert in the field of job hunting. There are, however, some classic mistakes job seekers regularly make as they go through the process:


  1. Not knowing what you really want in your career. This requires self-reflection to identify your strongest skills and the activities you enjoy and derive satisfaction from. Do not discount or minimize how much your personality and interpersonal style can factor into this. Know who you are. It will aid in the identification of roles you should invest your time pursuing.

  2. Only replying to ads and posted positions. Use of online job boards is commonplace for both organizations and search firms. There are issues with timeliness and reliability of information on these services, with many commercial job boards scraping job listings from each other. This results in postings being re-dated and relisted for extended periods of time after the job has expired. Many job boards also aggregate candidate resumes and profiles and sell access to that data as secondary profit centers. You should consider a job posting from a job board as a good starting point and invest time in identifying a more direct method of making your interest known to the hiring authority.

  3. You expect one resume will be effective for all applications. You need to develop a current, effective primary resume. In order to maximize the potential of being considered for roles, you should plan to tailor this resume to each position. Highlight your accomplishments and relevant experience that best reflect what the organization is seeking for each role. The exercise of matching your qualifications to the job requirements will help you prepare for potential interviews when you can address areas important to the hiring manager. A short cover letter and/or a well-constructed email to accompany your resume is also very useful.

  4. Inadequate research of the role, hiring company or their industry. Do not chase titles. CSO and Director of Security are two of the most misunderstood and over-used titles in the security profession. Focus instead on accountabilities, reporting relationships and the purpose of the role. Rather than the title, these are key components to the level of a position and are what should factor into your evaluation. Organizations prefer candidates who are well prepared. Candidates who do not have a good understanding of the industry, the company or the company’s clients are less likely to be selected.


A search for a new employment opportunity is a huge undertaking. The old adage of being prepared is key, and your investment in this will help you avoid pitfalls along the way.