Building a profile is key to career progression

Information security professionals have clearly felt the impact the economic downturn has had on the industry

Information security professionals have clearly felt the impact the economic downturn has had on the industry, writes Raj Samani, vice-president of communications at ISSA's UK Chapter.

According to the 2009 Barclay Simpson market report on information security, "Demand for information security staff noticeably declined in the second half of 2008, for the first time in some years". The feeling of job insecurity is equally warranted as "there is now a pool of redundant security practitioners". Without wishing to sound too pessimistic, "looking ahead, there is unlikely to be any upturn in the market in the near term".

The report did provide useful advice for those recently made redundant: "If you find yourself in this situation or simply fear the threat of redundancy, the more proactive you are, the better. Focusing on how you can improve your marketability - perhaps doing things such as completing a professional qualification and developing relationships within the industry."

Information security certifications are certainly useful in further careers. According to the 2006 (ISC)² Global Information Security Workforce Study, hiring managers are looking for candidates with certifications, with 85% of respondents with information security responsibility identifying certifications as somewhat or very important to the candidate evaluation process.

Not only is the security professional tasked with ensuring their skills are better than their colleagues, or other job applicants, but their position is also threatened from providers offering insource/outsource services. Clearly certifications can demonstrate a measurable difference between candidates, but where particular qualifications are seen as merely a baseline, inevitably a greater differential is required.

Security professionals must now see themselves in the eyes of their hiring/line managers. A hiring manager will invariably use Google, or social networking sites to research their candidates. What do these tools convey about your profile and reputation? Even with a burgeoning online profile and impressive reputation to match, you will still always be at a disadvantage to applicants that already know or are known by the hiring manager through industry events, or have spoken and impressed at such events.

Regardless of the economic climate, enhancing contacts and your profile should be seen as a way of improving job security and enhancing the career. Writing papers/articles, and public speaking may be seen as daunting, or time intensive but not only brings great satisfaction but can also bring reward at a time when you really need it.

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