You’re in Tech, Do You Know Where You’re Going

Posted by Kathleen Smith

Neal AndersAt the recent BSidesDC we sat down with a software engineer to explore challenges and opportunities for job seekers in the tech community. Media and social media are filled with the difficulty companies are having finding the right tech talent, as well as stories, memes and videos about how poorly some tech recruiters treat the tech job seekers they are trying to hire.

“Finding my current position took eight months,” shares Neal Anders, Lead Software Engineer, Tenable Network Security. “Finding the right job is about long-term networking versus a short term fix,” adds Neal.

Many job seekers don’t approach their job search strategically. Some jump to another company when they have had it at their current firm. That’s rarely a well thought out decision. And if they had been paying attention to the warning signs and been more proactive, the opportunities and the end result would undoubtedly be better. Few professionals – tech or otherwise — take charge of their career and take the time to research companies to cultivate for future career opportunities.

Proactive Research

As part of the research and discovery phases before you being a job search, you need to find companies and people who share your vision for where you want to take your career. That’s hard work. It requires a lot of research about companies and the types of people and skill sets they seek. Review their social media channels and web site. Research the types of conferences they attend. Try to network with current as well as former employees or others familiar with the company. Is it the kind of place that could provide you with an opportunity to enhance your career?

How do their recruiters interact with prospects? If the recruiters don’t treat you well, it might be an indication that the recruiters themselves are not well treated within the company.

Proactive Training

Be proactive in developing your career path by talking to colleagues and mentors and determining where your skills are deficient and what training you need to prepare for the future. Trying to find a mentor? Talk to colleagues, review LinkedIn groups and attend user group meetings.

Make recommendations to your management about the training you need which will help both you and the company. Some managers may not support these requests because they think you’re looking for another job. Explain the benefits to both of you. A good work environment supports your career development, not stifles it.

Are You a Leader

As the security industry along with most of the tech industry evolves, there are more needs and opportunities for tech professionals who can move into management and leadership roles. If you want to be on a management track you need to understand that this is more than being technically proficient.

If you have an interest in management, look at developing into those roles by finding opportunities to lead teams, interface with customers and other departments as well as provide input into business development and resource management. Also look at expanding your expertise across different industries rather than tech proficiency in just one. While the technology may stay the same, its impact on departments, company direction and customers is very different.


While salaries shouldn’t drive tech career management , it is important to keep an eye on the market by checking out resources such as Glassdoor, Robert Half or Burning Glass that provide information on tech salaries.

While many tech rock stars talk about salaries, that’s not the way to direct a career path. A promotion or job move should provide an opportunity to gain new knowledge or experience as well as provide a good work environment and better salary. In the cleared community we’re all aware of salary challenges as Patra Frame recently discussed in Salary Reality Bites.

It’s your responsibility to understand where you fall in the scope of the salaries. With two years experience, you can’t ask for the same salary as someone who has 10 years experience. At the same time, if you are relocating from one area to another, you need to understand the differences in cost of living, commute and quality of life that will impact your overall compensation package. Show Me the Money, Salary and Benefits gives direction on things to consider when you’re developing a compensation strategy. Or review How to Negotiate Salary for Your Job Offer if you’re currently in salary negotiations.

If you’re in tech you may have more options than most other cleared job seekers. You’ve chosen a career path with a strong future. But that’s not an excuse to have a directionless career. It’s your responsibility. Take charge of your career and you’ll be much happier with the results.


This entry was posted on Monday, November 09, 2015 2:09 pm

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