What skills from IT security jobs can be transferred to other sectors?

In Information Security ByTeam Acumin / 9th August 2016

The techniques people learn with a view to picking up IT security jobs can often be used to excellent effect outside of their desired industry. Let’s take a look at how:

The job market has changed

Many years ago, it was common for a person to leave school, get a job and then stay with the same company for the rest of their working life before retiring at the age of 60 (for women) or 65 (for men). On retirement day, it was customary for the company to give a small gift to the retiring employee. Often, this was a clock.

These days have long gone. Workers often change employees regularly. Many people in IT security jobs make several transfers to similar security jobs in another company, attracted by a rise in salary or a more responsible role.

As well as this, not everybody in an IT security job wants to remain employed in the cyber security sector for the rest of their working life. Some people want a complete change of career direction., but what skills developed in IT security jobs are transferable to another job?

In order to satisfy a potential new employer that a job candidate has the necessary skills for the new job, the applicant needs to identify these skills. Then, as part of their CV, he or she should make a transferable skills list that itemises these plus points.

IT skills

Some of the technical computer skills used in IT security jobs may not be transferable. Knowing how to block hacking attempts or rid a network of viruses may have little relevance for other jobs. However, if a cyber security expert is moving to a small business that does not employ network security experts, they could have a role in advising the company on security issues even though that may not be their main role.

Most jobs require some degree of IT technical ability. Most people working in IT security jobs spend a lot of time using a keyword. They may not have measured the number of words per minute that they can type, but they are probably better than the average office worker for speed and accuracy of typing.

Other useful IT skills include familiarity with office programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel, which are standard software used by the majority of businesses. Many businesses use some type of database system, and IT security personnel will be familiar with using databases.

Teamwork

Some of the most valuable transferable skills will be ones that are not IT-based. Most IT security jobs are performed as part of a team. The skills required for a good team player include communication skills, both written and verbal. Team members need to be able to cooperate effectively and have good social skills. A member needs to have the ability to listen to the ideas of others, and be prepared to accept that their own ideas are not necessarily the best.

A person who has led a team will have demonstrated leadership skills and know how to inspire, motivate and encourage team members. Potential leaders are highly valued by most businesses.

Working alone

There are times when IT security personnel work with the team, but at other periods they work on their own. This requires the skill be self-motivated and to use one’s own initiative. A high degree of organisation is required, which includes time management and the ability to focus without being distracted. This means getting things done accurately and without procrastination.

Creativity, problem solving and decision making

Though IT security jobs are not seen as creative as say, a musician or a painter, the best cyber security professionals are creative individuals. Problem solving is a large component of cyber security. Every day, IT security people face challenges and puzzles that need solving. How can systems be developed that will prevent cyber attacks? How can company employees be encouraged to follow the company’s cyber security protocols? Solving issues like these require creative thinking and people who can “think outside of the box”. Expert creative thinkers will be able to adapt to many different job roles.

Solving issues often requires perseverance and motivation. The best security workers obtain great satisfaction from successfully finding creative solutions to problems. They are also proactive, anticipating problems before they arise.

Sometimes, there will be failures. The ability to learn from past mistakes and apply lessons to future projects is a valuable skill.

A contemporary skill to problem solving is decision making. Those who are good at this analyse an issue, evaluate it, and then make clear decisions that demonstrate good judgement.

Problem solving and decision making jobs require people who feel confident, and who know that they have the ability to deal with obstacles as and when they arise.

Negotiation and persuasion

One of the frustrations that many cyber security workers face is getting other workers to follow security procedures. Standard protocols include making sure workers shut down or put their computers in sleep mode while away from them, not opening attachments to emails from unknown senders, and regularly changing passwords. Workers who neglect security procedures place the systems at risk.

Getting workers to follow procedures requires highly developed skills of persuasion, education and negotiation.

Working under pressure

Dealing with cyber security breaches can generate a lot of pressure. Security breaches need to be solved as quickly as possible. Someone who can keep calm in a crisis without feeling overwhelmed and stressed is in the best position to deals with the crisis.

An expert IT security person will have developed many skills that are transferable to a new career. The types of skills detailed in this article are in high demand by most employers.

If you are in an IT security job, you may love your work and want to spend the rest of your working life in IT security, but it is good to know that the skills developed in IT security jobs can be transferred to other career paths should you ever fancy a change.