This is definitely going to be my most personal blog I have written in the last two years since I chose to become a cybersecurity writer.
Cybersecurity is my passion. I enjoy reading about new trends, insights, ways to mitigate and/or remediate cyber threats. I am also particularly interested in exploring the human side of cybersecurity, trying to realize why we are still considered to be “the weakest link” in the cybersecurity chain. And on top of all these, I am really frustrated by the fact that we are continuously failing to educate people, everyday people, like my parents and my five kids, on how to use in a secure manner all those technology appliances and services….
I have been using LinkedIn since 2006, way before many people knew what LinkedIn was. I was asking my fellow Hellenic Air Force officers to join this “different” social media platform, and everyone was “Link what?” Until my retirement, I was a “passive” user of the platform. Infrequent logins, a few posts and likes. That was all. I hadn’t realized the real power of LinkedIn because I was feeling safe in the protected environment of the Air Force.
But then, my decision to retire from the Air Force forced me to try and find ways to land with a job. In a moment of brilliance (!!!!) I turned to LinkedIn, that old forgotten tool, and I tried to leverage its capabilities. Almost two years later, here I am with a dream job with a dream team.
How did that happen?!
1. LinkedIn is my “live” CV
This is the first piece of advice I give to anyone I know. Keep your profile updated at all times. Creating the first version of your profile might take a long time, but don’t be discouraged. You should pay special attention to the experiences and education parts so as to showcase your knowledge and abilities. When editing your job experience, try to focus on your achievements and not on the job description. Say what you have done and not what you were expected to do. Last but not least, if you are a volunteer, write it down. Volunteering shows a person willing to give.
2. Choose a nice headshot picture
Honestly, I don’t like profile pictures that are not depicting the person I am “speaking” to. Although appearance is not and should not be a judging factor, picking the “perfect” profile picture is essential for making your LinkedIn profile look proficient.
3. Write a concise summary
LinkedIn has a section called “Summary”. This is the section that recruiters will first look in your profile. This is also the section that I am looking when someone sends a connection invitation. Recruiters won’t spend an enormous amount of time navigating your profile, trying to figure out whether you fit for a specific vacancy. No. Time is money and recruiters have only 8 hours a day. Make the summary attractive. Showcase your experience and your competencies. It can help you stand out of the competition. If you manage to keep the recruiter’s eye on your profile for more than one minute, you have won.
4. Be consistent, prudent and authentic
LinkedIn is a social media platform. You create content, you like others’ content, you make comments. Here are three words that helped me a lot: consistency, prudence, authenticity. Be authentic, don’t try to mimic other users. Express your opinion politely, without offending the author or other people. If someone offends you, or you think he/she is “polluting” your environment, block them. The more you interact and post as a professional, the more you’ll be noticed and build recognition.
5. Give so as to be given
If you see a post that you like, Like it. Don’t be afraid to expose yourself. If you like other people’s posts, they will do the same for you. In addition, LinkedIn has a section for recommendations. If you have met a person, a colleague, a friend that has made an impression on you, say it. Give them a recommendation. You will help them stand out of the crowd and, be sure, he/she will return the favour. The more you give, the more you get.
6. Success does not come at no cost
There is still one more factor that you need to understand: LinkedIn is not a magic wand. Let me explain this to you. When I decided to use LinkedIn as the tool to land me a job, I said to my wife that for one year I would do content writing for free (!!!). Don’t be surprised. Thanks to a good friend of mine, Justin Sherman, whom I met on LinkedIn, we edited high-quality articles that we managed to get published in various websites, such as RealClearDefence or The Strategy Bridge. We didn’t get a single euro (or dollar) for these articles. Those articles, together with a webcast I did with Catherine Knibbs, were my tickets to success. I promoted my work through LinkedIn and that helped me enormously to expand my social network and finally, I’m proud to say, I have this job at Bora as a full-time Cybersecurity writer.
7. Be proactive
Don’t wait for the recruiters to call you or message you. Call them yourself. Once you see a job opportunity, grab it by its hair. Seize the opportunity. It might be a once in a lifetime chance. Be proactive and not reactive.
I am not an HR specialist and some of my bullets – I don’t even dare to call them advice – might not work, or might be wrong. But they sure worked with me. And remember. Don’t be discouraged by the obstacles you will find in your pathway. It is the voyage that matters, not the destination.