These words echo the exponential growth in cyber attacks since the start of the pandemic. And with the introduction of hybrid and remote work, hacking has never been easier.
With so many possible targets, both corporate and individual, it’s hard to keep an eye out for everything. As a result, the demand for cyber security specialists is on the rise.
Among these experts, penetration testers stand out with the most versatile skill set.
Because their work is not limited to sitting behind a desk.
Sometimes they must go to where the work is. And infiltrate the target’s physical space before proceeding with its systems.
But how do you get one foot in the door of this industry?
With a great resume, of course!
Whether you’re playing for the blue or the red team, you must prove you’ve got what it takes to be a pen tester.
This article contains all the tips you need to know to start your pen tester career in 2023.
The examples in our complete guide will teach you
- What do recruiters consider the perfect pen tester candidate
- How to choose the best resume format so you can highlight your strengths
- How to make the most of your resume summary
- Which skills are trending for penetration testers
- Whether formal education is mandatory and which ones are preferable
- Which are the top certificates for cyber security specialists
- How to prepare and plan ahead for the interview
Penetration tester resume: how to secure an interview with recruiters
There are so many ways to get into the cyber security industry!
But you’ll have to be prepared to do the work. Especially if you’ve decided to switch careers from a non-tech field.
Can you still apply to become a pen tester, if you don’t have a tech background?
Some of the currently active pen testers started out as military personnel. Others as law enforcement members.
And there are those who have made the 180 degree shift. From convicts to cyber security specialists.
Wait, what do vets, the police and prisoners have in common? As Bryan Mills, played by Liam Neeson, once said: a very particular set of skills.
But that’s not all. They also share:
- Drive to learn
- Willingness to use their skills for good
- A can-do attitude
As well as many other relevant personal traits.
That’s why it’s important to show you character. And describe the scope of your current abilities, including transferable skills.
You never really know which will come in handy on the job.
And the sooner you do it, the better.
We’ll review each resume section individually later. For now, let’s look at the resume in general.
What do you need to keep in mind when building yours?
The type of skills and the amount of experience you have will determine the format of your resume.
If you’re a recent college grad, it’s best to use the functional resume.
Its layout will allow you to start with your most relevant skills. And any academic projects or side gigs to support your claims.
Then you’ll add your formal education, making sure to mention related majors and courses.
You’re switching careers? Before you choose a resume format, you need to assess your experience. And the amount of overlap between your work history and cyber security.
If your past experience isn’t related, the functional resume is still your best option. Highlight your transferable skills and tie them to the job description.
But remember, you must display some relevant experience. Even if it doesn’t fit into the past work history category.
Links to completed courses, VDP reports or bug bounties earned boost chances. You must also feel comfortable being tested on the tools you’ve listed on your resume.
Yet, if your work is closely tied to the high-tech industry, then use the hybrid resume.
This layout will help you present the overlap in work experience. And any transferable skills you have to offer.
Finally, if you’re a tenured professional, stick to the traditional reverse-chronological resume. The key is to shine the spotlight on your proudest achievements.
Be succinct and to the point.
This is what a rough sketch of your resume should look like: