You’re here once again: sifting through the incredible amount of job postings on LinkedIn or other websites and trying to figure out what’s the best option for you. There is just so much information and possibilities out there: should you look for just remote jobs? For those postings that don’t have a salary posted, is it even worth applying? And what does a hybrid agreement really mean?
The job hunt can bring around a lot of questions and don’t worry: it’s extremely normal to have doubts when it comes to the process. The entire job hunt begins with one step: the job description and that’s why we’ve created this helpful guide to help you dissect this very first step of the job hunt and get one step closer to landing your dream cybersecurity job.
What is a Job Description?
Although it may seem nearly impossible to summarize responsibilities in just a few lines, especially those that will take up most of your time if you take that role, job descriptions are helpful for various reasons:
They help you get an idea of what the company is really about: it seems like a minor part of the corporate experience, but job descriptions that are carefully written, error-free, and take the time to include valuable information such as benefits, remote work policies, or salary information show that the company respects the time and efforts of applicants and cares about how they appear to outsiders.
They help you have a clear idea of your responsibilities: there’s nothing worse than getting excited for your new role and realizing that it’s not what you expected at all. With a well-written job description that clearly outlines the responsibilities of the role, you’ll have a helpful document to refer back to if you’re asked to complete tasks outside of your range. On the other hand, it also helps employers track your progress and see if you’re fulfilling your duties and responsibilities.
They help you get an idea of what a job really entails: especially in new and broad fields like cybersecurity where job titles are generalized and actual responsibilities vary significantly, job descriptions give applicants the chance to go beyond just the name and get a real picture for what the role will entail, not only helping them decide if an application is the right choice, but also ensuring less non-interested or unqualified candidates apply for the role and occupying the time of hiring managers unnecessarily.
Breaking down the job description
Now that you know why job descriptions are so useful for hiring managers and potential candidates alike, let’s head right into the different parts of the job description so that you can understand exactly what each section means:
The official title: for corporate organizational reasons, every employee needs an official title; this helps the organization create their levels of hierarchy and will help coworkers find you if they need something from you or your department. If a job title isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, don’t fret: read more into the description to get a better idea of exactly what the job is.
Job summary: this is where you should focus most of your attention; this section will go into more detail regarding the day-to-day responsibilities of the role and give you a better idea of if it’s the right fit for you. Remember that this is just a summary and more things might be added or some could even be removed, but this is the general set of tasks with which you should be comfortable before applying for the role.
Job requirements and qualifications: once you’ve verified that the job does fit your goals, the next most important section is that of the requirements and qualifications, which state the company’s non-negotiables when it comes to the role, such as degree levels, years of experience, hard skills, and other abilities they want you to have before you step into the role.
Job goals: this section is a bit different than the others and focuses on what the company would like applicants to have before applying, such as soft skills or experience in certain areas. Unlike the requirements section, these qualities are not required; however, if you do have them, make sure you highlight them on your CV or during interviews so that you stand out.
Red flags in job descriptions
We’ve outlined the basics of job descriptions, but we’d be remiss to pretend that every description follows them to a T. In fact, you’ll probably run into these red flags in job descriptions more often than not:
Vague, high-level task descriptions: while vague descriptions could mean that you simply don’t have a good idea of what will be required of you, they also could lead to problems down the road when you’re asked to take on the job of more than one person. Remember that it’s not really about the length of the description here, but more about the content. If you don’t have a good idea of what the position entails, maybe focus on a different posting.
A very wide salary range: companies that pay below the normal wage typically present a salary range with something like “depends on the applicant” following the estimate; while you may be offered a job on the higher end of this scale, this is typically used as a way to lowball potential candidates into accepting lower salaries. Research the typical salaries in your city and role and make sure you’re not accepting less than what you deserve.
Error-filled or poorly written descriptions: everyone makes mistakes and as the world becomes increasingly global, it’s common for people to write in their second or third language. There is a difference, however, in little mistakes and glaring problems in a job description that can tip you off to the attention to detail a company has or the legitimacy of their offers. Trust your gut if a job description gives you an uneasy feeling.
Intensive and time-consuming interview processes: there’s nothing wrong with a thorough interview process where you’re asked to complete a task or two, but ones that are extremely lengthy or ask for a lot of deliverables are not ethical and it’s best to avoid companies that include these practices in their hiring processes. Any hints towards this in the job description mean it will probably be even worse during the actual thing!
Cybersecurity Job Descriptions
As we mentioned above, cybersecurity is a relatively new field and one that has a lot of different job opportunities; from being an (ethical) hacker to overseeing the cybersecurity practices of a company, you’ll be able to find the best fit for you pretty easily. To help you sort through the myriad of job applications, we’ve outlined each part of the job description to help you make sense of cybersecurity job offers.
Cybersecurity job titles
In a field like cybersecurity, and especially when looking at job descriptions from companies that don’t specialize in cybersecurity, try not to place too much weight on the job description and instead try to focus more on other areas. Why? Well, there are tons of different roles available in the area and most companies that are just starting to introduce cybersecurity positions aren’t experts themselves.
Cybersecurity job summaries
Here’s where you really need to focus: the job summary will tell you what you need to know. As we mentioned in the section on red flags in job interviews, you should be cautious if you see a super high-level description that seems to encompass everything and that’s specifically applicable for cybersecurity, a new and wide-reaching field. If you can’t get a good idea of what the job actually is, you probably don’t need to apply.
Cybersecurity job requirements
What you’ll find in this section will differ significantly based on what role in cybersecurity you’re interested in, but this is also a great place to see what’s expected of you--on the other hand, if you’re thinking about roles in cybersecurity, this can help you gather a helpful list of the skills or certifications you should have before applying for a role.
Cybersecurity job goals
Even though you’re applying for a role at this company, you should still make sure it’s a good fit for you as well, not just the employer. When looking at the qualities they’d like you to have, see if they align with both your values and what you offer; this will help you get the best possible picture of what your life will be like in the role and decide if it’s for you before it’s too late to look elsewhere.
If you’re interested in beginning your career in cybersecurity or simply fine tuning your skills, Ironhack is the place for you. Our expertly designed bootcamps are designed with these job openings in mind, complete with exactly what you need to reach success in the cybersecurity workforce.
If you’re ready to take that leap in cybersecurity, we’re here to guide you the entire way, from day one of your bootcamp until you find your dream tech job. Are you up for the challenge?