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Stay Current & Stand Out: Strategies to Keep Up-to-Date in Your Field

Posted by Ashley Jones
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When preparing for a job interview, it’s common to focus on the technical questions you might be asked. However, if you really want to stand out, it’s essential to also be prepared for the question, “How do you stay up-to-date in your field?”

While it is true that some government agencies and contractors may rely on legacy systems, the security cleared industry as a whole is constantly evolving. Cybersecurity threats and technologies are rapidly advancing, and the cleared community must stay current to maintain the security and integrity of their systems and data.

Whatever your expertise, staying up-to-date in your field is crucial to supporting the mission effectively and landing your next dream job. Consider the following strategies to stay up-to-date, impress in interviews, and demonstrate your commitment to professional development.

Attend Industry Events and Conferences

Attending industry events and conferences is one of the most effective ways to stay current in your profession. These events offer an opportunity to learn about the latest trends and technologies from experts in the field. Additionally, they provide an excellent opportunity to network with other professionals and learn about new job opportunities.

Some industry events and conferences to consider include the Logistics Officer Association (LOA) Symposium, the Intelligence and National Security Summit, AFCEA events, and more. If you’re involved in cybersecurity, there are a ton of additional conferences to choose from spanning the RSA Conference, Black Hat, DEF CON, and BSides conferences. These events offer a wide range of workshops, speakers, and networking opportunities.

Join Professional Organizations and Associations

Professional organizations and associations are another excellent way to stay up-to-date. These groups often provide access to industry news and resources, as well as opportunities for networking and professional development.

Different professional organizations and associations cater to various specialties and fields. For example, if you’re a GEOINT specialist, you might consider joining an organization such as the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF). If you’re a cloud engineer, you might consider the Cloud Security Alliance. And if you’re a cybersecurity analyst, you might consider organizations like the Information Systems Security Association or (ISC)2.

It’s important to do research and identify organizations that align with your specific interests and career goals. You can also ask colleagues, mentors, or other professionals in your field for recommendations. Joining a professional organization or association can be a valuable investment in your career development.

Read Industry Publications and Blogs

You’re reading this blog, so you’ve got a head start in this area already! Reading industry publications and blogs provides insight into industry trends, best practices, and emerging technologies. Additionally, they often offer in-depth analysis of current events and their impact on the industry.

Some industry publications and blogs include Nextgov, Defense News, SecurityWeek, and more. Many of these publications also offer email newsletters, which can be a convenient way to stay up-to-date on the go.

Josh Fullmer, Cybersecurity Recruiter at Dragos, shared tips in a LinkedIn post to stay current in the cybersecurity industry specifically. He advises job seekers not to worry about consuming everything out there, but to pick one or two relevant resources and read something every day. Fullmer shared some possible resources to consider, including Google alerts (you can set up searches like “cybersecurity news”), The Hacker News, ZDNet, Cyberscoop, The CyberWire, and other publications that cover cybersecurity news.

By being specific about your sources and showing a genuine interest in your field, you can impress your interviewer and demonstrate a commitment to ongoing learning and professional development.

Take Courses and Certifications

Taking courses and earning certifications can provide valuable skills and knowledge. There are many online learning platforms that offer courses on a wide range of topics.

If you’re a cleared cybersecurity job seeker, it’s important to familiarize yourself with DoD 8570. DoD 8570 is not a certification itself, but rather a directive that establishes guidelines for the training, certification, and management of personnel performing cybersecurity functions in the Department of Defense.

The directive divides positions into several categories, each of which has its own set of requirements for certifications and training. For example, Technical Level III requires at least one of the following certifications: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), or GIAC Security Leadership Certification (GSLC).

Follow Thought Leaders on Social Media

Social media can be an excellent resource for staying up-to-date in your profession too. Following thought leaders on social media can provide insights into industry trends and emerging technologies. Additionally, it can be an opportunity to connect with other professionals and engage in industry discussions.

Staying up-to-date in your field is critical to remaining competitive. Attending industry events and conferences, joining professional organizations and associations, reading industry publications and blogs, taking courses and certifications, and leveraging social media are all effective strategies for staying current in your profession.

Like Fullmer said, read something every day. You don’t need to constantly get new certifications or hop on a plane to go to industry events all the time. But do give some thought to how you can stay current, whether it’s reading a new blog today or listening to a podcast.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 11:29 am

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