Penetration Tester CV Examples & Guide for 2024

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Penetration Tester CV

When crafting your penetration tester CV, ensure it highlights extensive knowledge of cybersecurity methodologies. Demonstrate proficiency in various penetration testing tools and technologies. Your CV must also showcase experience in scripting and programming. Include notable projects and successes that have improved clients' or previous employers' security posture.

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One specific CV challenge you might face as a penetration tester is keeping up-to-date with the latest vulnerabilities and exploits. Our guide provides thorough insights and strategies to stay abreast of emerging threats, ensuring you can safeguard systems effectively.

Structure, write, and edit your penetration tester CV to land the role of your dreams with our exclusive guide on how to:

  • Create an attention-grabbing header that integrates keywords and includes all vital information;
  • Add strong action verbs and skills in your experience section, and get inspired by real-world professionals;
  • List your education and relevant certification to fill in the gaps in your career history;
  • Integrate both hard and soft skills all through your CV.

Discover more industry-specific guides to help you apply for any role in the links below:

How complex should the format of your penetration tester CV be?

Perhaps, you decided to use a fancy font and plenty of colours to ensure your penetration tester CV stands out amongst the pile of other candidate profiles. Alas - this may confuse recruiters. By keeping your format simple and organising your information coherently, you'll ultimately make a better impression. What matters most is your experience, while your CV format should act as complementary thing by:

  • Presenting the information in a reverse chronological order with the most recent of your jobs first. This is done so that your career history stays organised and is aligned to the role;
  • Making it easy for recruiters to get in touch with you by including your contact details in the CV header. Regarding the design of your CV header, include plenty of white space and icons to draw attention to your information. If you're applying for roles in the UK, don't include a photo, as this is considered a bad practice;
  • Organising your most important CV sections with consistent colours, plenty of white space, and appropriate margins (2.54 cm). Remember that your CV design should always aim at legibility and to spotlight your key information;
  • Writing no more than two pages of your relevant experience. For candidates who are just starting out in the field, we recommend to have an one-page CV.

One more thing about your CV format - you may be worried if your double column CV is Applicant Tracker System (ATS) complaint. In our recent study, we discovered that both single and double-column CVs are ATS-friendly . Most ATSes out there can also read all serif and sans serif fonts. We suggest you go with modern, yet simple, fonts (e.g. Rubik, Lato, Raleway) instead of the classic Times New Roman. You'll want your application to stand out, and many candidates still go for the classics. Finally, you'll have to export your CV. If you're wondering if you should select Doc or PDF, we always advise going with PDF. Your CV in PDF will stay intact and opens easily on every OS, including Mac OS.

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For certain fields, consider including infographics or visual elements to represent skills or achievements, but ensure they are simple, professional, and enhance rather than clutter the information.

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The top sections on a penetration tester CV

  • Professional Summary highlights your expertise and value to a team.
  • Technical Skills showcases the specific tools and languages you're proficient in.
  • Work Experience details your past roles and contributions in cybersecurity.
  • Certifications and Education reflect your formal training and industry recognition.
  • Relevant Projects demonstrate hands-on experience with real-world security challenges.
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What recruiters value on your CV:
  • Highlight your certifications such as OSCP, CEH, or CREST, as these are well-respected within the penetration testing community and show a commitment to the profession.
  • Detail your hands-on experience with common penetration testing tools such as Metasploit, Burp Suite, and Kali Linux, which demonstrates your practical skills and familiarity with the trade's toolset.
  • Include any bug bounties you have won or vulnerabilities you've discovered, as these showcase real-world success and contribute to your credibility as a security expert.
  • Emphasise your knowledge of various operating systems, network protocols, and coding languages, since versatility in these areas is central to identifying and exploiting system weaknesses.
  • Present any contributions to the cybersecurity community, like published articles, blog posts, or presented talks, which can reflect your passion and expertise in the field.

How to present your contact details and job keywords in your penetration tester CV header

Located at the top of your penetration tester CV, the header presents recruiters with your key personal information, headline, and professional photo. When creating your CV header, include your:

What do other industry professionals include in their CV header? Make sure to check out the next bit of your guide to see real-life examples:

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Examples of good CV headlines for penetration tester:

  1. Cybersecurity Specialist | Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) | Network Penetration | 5 Years of Experience
  2. Information Security Analyst | Senior Penetration Tester | Web Application Security | CISSP | 7+ Years
  3. Lead Penetration Tester | Infrastructure & Social Engineering Expert | OSCP Certified | 10 Years in Cybersecurity
  4. Security Consultant | Junior Pen Tester | Vulnerability Assessment | CompTIA Security+ | 2 Years Professional
  5. Advanced Threat Analyst | Red Team Leader | Cloud Security | CREST Registered Tester | 8 Years
  6. Ethical Hacking Professional | Senior Application Tester | Risk Management | SANS GIAC | 12 Years Experienced

Choosing your opening statement: a penetration tester CV summary or objective

At the top one third of your CV, you have the chance to make a more personable impression on recruiters by selecting between:

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CV summaries for a penetration tester job:

  • With over 8 years of dedicated experience in cybersecurity and penetration testing, including a notable project that identified critical vulnerabilities in a Fortune 500 company's infrastructure, I am a seasoned expert adept in advanced penetration techniques using tools such as Metasploit, Burp Suite, and Wireshark.
  • As a former software developer with 5 years of experience transitioning into the cybersecurity landscape, I bring a unique perspective to penetration testing. My background in coding with languages such as Python and Java enables me to understand and exploit the intricacies of application vulnerabilities seamlessly.
  • Accomplished network engineer with over a decade of experience managing large-scale digital infrastructures, now shifting focus toward penetration testing. My comprehensive knowledge in network architecture and a recent Certified Ethical Hacker credential equip me with the foundation to identify and mitigate complex security risks effectively.
  • Adept in cyber threat analysis after 7 years in information security, with a highlight achievement of leading a team to improve security protocols for a major banking institution by 40%. I am skilled in risk assessment, and intrusion detection systems, notably Snort and Splunk, seeking to leverage these talents in a dedicated penetration testing role.
  • Intent on forging a path in penetration testing, my objective is to apply my robust analytical skills and a meticulous approach acquired through a Master’s degree in Computer Science. I am eager to develop expertise in ethical hacking techniques and contribute to enhancing the security posture of esteemed technology firms.
  • As an enthusiastic career starter passionate about cybersecurity, my objective is to immerse myself in the world of penetration testing, to hone my skills in security assessment tools like Nessus and Kali Linux, and to deliver robust security solutions by leveraging my recent cybersecurity certification and collaborative spirit.

Narrating the details of your penetration tester CV experience section

Perhaps you've heard it time and time again, but, how you present your experience is what matters the most. Your CV experience section - that details your work history alongside your accomplishments - is the space to spotlight your unqiue expertise and talents. So, avoid solely listing your responsibilities, but instead:

Before you start writing your penetration tester CV experience section, dive into some industry-leading examples on how to structure your bullets.

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Best practices for your CV's work experience section
  • Conducted thorough vulnerability assessments on a variety of systems and web applications to identify and report on security loopholes and weaknesses.
  • Designed and executed simulated cyber attacks, including social engineering, on company infrastructure to evaluate the effectiveness of security protocols.
  • Developed custom penetration testing tools and scripts using programming languages such as Python and PowerShell to tailor assessments to specific environments.
  • Documented and presented detailed reports on findings and recommendations to senior management, with an emphasis on risk assessment and mitigation strategies.
  • Collaborated with IT and development teams to remediate vulnerabilities, ensuring that patches and updates were applied in a timely manner.
  • Stayed abreast of the latest cybersecurity trends and potential threats by attending industry conferences and participating in professional forums and online communities.
  • Performed regular security audits on network infrastructure, including firewalls, routers, and intrusion detection systems to ensure compliance with industry standards.
  • Worked closely with the incident response team to investigate breaches and assist with the development of more robust defence mechanisms post-attack.
  • Engaged with clients in the pre-engagement phase to understand their environment, define scope, and set clear expectations for penetration testing outcomes.
Senior Penetration Tester
Senior Cybersecurity Analyst
CyberGuard Ltd.
  • Led a series of white box penetration tests for a major financial institution, identifying and documenting over 150 security vulnerabilities.
  • Implemented advanced persistent threat simulation exercises across the company's network, improving the incident response time by 30%.
  • Spearheaded the development of automated security testing tools that reduced manual testing time by 25%, whilst enhancing the scope and accuracy of security audits.
Lead Security Consultant
Lead Penetration Tester
InfoSec Solutions PLC
  • Orchestrated comprehensive penetration testing and ethical hacking operations for a range of e-commerce clients, enhancing their security posture against cyber threats.
  • Developed and conducted robust Information Security training programs for IT staff, significantly increasing the in-house capacity to manage and mitigate security incidents.
  • Pioneered the company's use of cloud-based penetration testing tools, enabling more flexible and scalable security assessments across clients' digital assets.
Information Security Specialist
Penetration Testing Consultant
Digital Defence Group
  • Executed targeted penetration tests and vulnerability assessments on critical infrastructure, which led to the fortification of network perimeters and reduction in potential attack vectors.
  • Collaborated in the design and implementation of a new Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system, improving threat detection by 40%.
  • Devised custom penetration testing methodologies tailored to the unique requirements of healthcare industry clients, ensuring compliance with HIPAA standards.
Security Analyst
Security Penetration Tester
TechSecure Corp
  • Performed in-depth penetration tests across a large multinational's network, resulting in the identification of critical security flaws that led to major infrastructure overhauls.
  • Assessed and reinforced the security of mobile applications for a telecom giant, decreasing the risk of data leakage and unauthorized access.
  • Initiated a cross-functional team to integrate cybersecurity best practices into the software development lifecycle, reducing vulnerabilities at the code level by 35%.
Network Security Lead
Network Penetration Tester
SecureNet Innovations
  • Managed a team dedicated to simulating advanced cyber-attacks on enterprise networks, identifying systemic weaknesses that were promptly addressed and rectified.
  • Authored a comprehensive set of penetration testing policies and procedures, which became the standard for subsequent tests and were adopted by partner firms.
  • Analysed and reported on security trends from penetration tests and recommended strategic solutions to anticipate and counteract emerging cyber threats.
Security Researcher
Ethical Hacker
NextGen Security Ltd.
  • Conducted research on new attack vectors and devised penetration testing strategies that were published in industry journals, improving the company's visibility and reputation.
  • Achieved a 20% improvement in security patch deployment efficiency by automating the correlation of penetration test findings with existing vulnerability databases.
  • Facilitated knowledge sharing workshops with junior penetration testers, contributing to a 15% increase in team efficiency and accuracy of security test results.
Cybersecurity Analyst
Application Penetration Tester
CyberTech Innovations
  • Performed black box penetration testing for a series of web applications, uncovering and subsequently patching over 100 high-risk vulnerabilities.
  • Coordinated with the development teams to integrate secure coding practices, significantly reducing the introduction of new vulnerabilities in software releases.
  • Leveraged machine learning algorithms to predict and preempt potential security breaches, resulting in a 45% improvement in the proactive identification of risks.
Information Security Engineer
Red Team Penetration Tester
CleverCode Security Solutions
  • Led penetration testing initiatives which played a critical role in achieving ISO 27001 certification for the company, demonstrating commitment to information security management standards.
  • Curated a library of common exploits and mitigations, streamlining the vulnerability management process and cutting down remediation time by 20%.
  • Revamped the red teaming approach to incorporate social engineering aspects, significantly enhancing the realism and effectiveness of security drills.

How to ensure your penetration tester CV stands out when you have no experience

This part of our step-by-step guide will help you substitute your experience section by helping you spotlight your skill set. First off, your ability to land your first job will depend on the time you take to assess precisely how you match the job requirements. Whether that's via your relevant education and courses, skill set, or any potential extracurricular activities. Next:

  • Systematise your CV so that it spotlights your most relevant experience (whether that's your education or volunteer work) towards the top;
  • Focus recruiters' attention to your transferrable skill set and in particular how your personality would be the perfect fit for the role;
  • Consider how your current background has helped you build your technological understanding - whether you've created projects in your free time or as part of your uni degree;
  • Ensure you've expanded on your teamwork capabilities with any relevant internships, part-time roles, or projects you've participated in the past.
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If applicable, briefly mention a situation where things didn’t go as planned and what you learned from it, demonstrating your ability to learn and adapt.

Hard skills and soft skills to showcase your unique skill set on your penetration tester CV

Did you know that your CV will mostly likely be assessed by recruiters based on skill alignment? And that means that the way you feature your key skills across different CV sections will play a crucial role in landing you that first interview. We recommend you add your:

  • technical capabilities or hard skills in your CV experience, certificates, projects, etc. Use your past accomplishments to prove your technical capabilities. List up to a dozen different software or hardware in your dedicated skills section to match the job keywords;
  • personal and communication skills or soft skills in your CV strengths, achievements, summary/ objective, etc. Soft skills are a bit more difficult to prove. How do you define your aptitude in active listening? So, instead of just listing the skill name, include a tangible metric to show your success.

On a final note, when you're in a hurry to create your profile, you may misspell a particular technology or soft skill. That's why we suggest you copy and paste the particular skill name (or keyword), directly from the job advert. This would also help you to pass any initial Applicant Tracker System (ATS) tests.

Top skills for your penetration tester CV:

Vulnerability Assessment

Penetration Testing

Network Security

Ethical Hacking

Security Audits

Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)

Web Application Security

Wireless Security


Computer Forensics



Critical Thinking


Attention to Detail




Project Management

Time Management

Continuous Learning

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Use mini case studies or success stories in your CV to demonstrate how your skills have positively impacted previous roles or projects.

Education and more professional qualifications to include in your penetration tester CV

If you want to showcase to recruiters that you're further qualified for the role, ensure you've included your relevant university diplomas. Within your education section:

  • Describe your degree with your university name(-s) and start-graduation dates;
  • List any awards you've received, if you deem they would be impressive or are relevant to the industry;
  • Include your projects and publications, if you need to further showcase how you've used your technical know-how;
  • Avoid listing your A-level marks, as your potential employers care to learn more about your university background.

Apart from your higher education, ensure that you've curated your relevant certificates or courses by listing the:

  • name of the certificate or course;
  • name of the institution within which you received your training;
  • the date(-s) when you obtained your accreditation.

In the next section, discover some of the most relevant certificates for your penetration tester CV:

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If there's a noticeable gap in your skillset for the role you're applying for, mention any steps you're taking to acquire these skills, such as online courses or self-study.

Key takeaways

What matters most in your penetration tester CV-writing process is for you to create a personalised application. One that matches the role and also showcases your unique qualities and talents.

  • Use the format to supplement the actual content, to stand out, and to ensure your CV experience is easy to comprehend and follows a logic;
  • Invest time in building a succinct CV top one third. One that includes a header (with your contact details and headline), a summary or an objective statement (select the one that best fits your experience), and - potentially - a dedicated skills section or achievements (to fit both hard skills and soft skills requirements);
  • Prioritise your most relevant (and senior) experience closer to the top of your CV. Always ensure you're following the "power verb, skill, and achievement" format for your bullets;
  • Integrate both your technical and communication background across different sections of your CV to meet the job requirements;
  • List your relevant education and certificates to fill in gaps in your CV history and prove to recrutiers you have relevant technical know-how.

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Volen Vulkov
Volen Vulkov is a resume expert and the co-founder of Enhancv. He applies his deep knowledge and experience to write about a career change, development, and how to stand out in the job application process.