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The average person has seven social media accounts. That may sound like a lot, until you start counting your own. Instagram. Twitter. Facebook. Reddit. YouTube. LinkedIn. Pinterest.

Suddenly, seven may start to sound a little low.

This presents an obvious challenge for modern job seekers and professionals. Employers, coworkers, and clients will inevitably see your social media profiles—either because they’re looking or they find them organically.

If you don’t recognize this, and adapt accordingly, the consequences could range from losing some professional credibility or harming your reputation, to missing out on a job (or even getting fired; although, hopefully, you’re not posting anything that would make that a possibility.).

Luckily, keeping a few best practices in mind will help you put your best digital face forward.

1) Delete anything that would raise eyebrows

It might go without saying, but deleting any questionable content is the very first thing you should do.

What’s “questionable”? In general, anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable having a grandparent see (feel free to swap in a different authority figure here: your favorite college professor, mentor, CEO, etc.).

Hard and fast rules, like “no alcohol, no politics, no profanity,” are unrealistic. Maybe you posted a photo from the Women’s March—that’s political, yet it’s important to you, so keeping it off Instagram is silly. Or perhaps you went to a tiki bar after work last week. Sharing a picture of you and your friends smiling with cocktails won’t offend any hiring manager.

So, use your best judgment. And remember, if you’re not 99.99% confident it’s appropriate, well, it’s probably not.

Finally, the platform itself also makes a big difference. Of the “big four,” Instagram and Facebook are by far the most casual and personal, followed by Twitter, followed by LinkedIn. That group photo with the cocktail would be out of place on LinkedIn and completely normal on Facebook. Before you press “Post,” look at what your peers are putting out there.

2) Share your passions

Social media is an awesome opportunity to share your passions and give recruiters and potential bosses more insight. It can make you appear more human and demonstrate the unique interests you’d bring to the team.

With that in mind, highlight the cool things you’re doing. Maybe you just ran a marathon or tried every recipe from an award-winning cookbook. Put those achievements or updates on your profiles to give people a taste of your personality.

Again, use good judgment here. If you’re posting to, say, LinkedIn, make sure your content isn’t solely about your side pursuits and passion projects—you don’t want to look like you’re more focused on those than your career.

3) Keep (some) profiles private

If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of posting things that will pass muster with every potential boss, you have a simple out: make your profiles private. Then it’s guaranteed that no one can see your content without your express permission.

This probably won’t fly if you’re applying to a social media role (after all, they want to know you can market yourself and create a brand), but for any other job, you’ll be fine.

Walking the line between “authentic” and professional on social media can feel tricky—and that’s before you know potential employers are vetting your profiles. However, keep these three guidelines in mind, and your social media will pass the test.

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You just got the email: your first interview went well, and now the company wants you to come in for a technical one!

The happiness is quickly replaced by anxiety. What if you get a question you have no idea how to answer? What if you freeze up and forget the answers you do know? What if you use up too much time trying a solution that doesn’t work?

Fear not, because we’ve got the tips and techniques you need to survive—maybe even ace—your technical interview.

1) Practice, practice, practice

There’s no way for you to predict the coding challenges or questions you’ll be tasked with. But that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare.

First, ask a friend or mentor to role-play your interviewer. Give them a book or a few websites with coding exercises they can pick from. Then, act out the whiteboarding challenge. We recommend making the situation as realistic as possible, which means choosing a place to practice where you won’t be interrupted, using a timer, staying in character, and so on. The closer your rehearsal is to real life, the more prepared and in control you’ll feel.

2) Get the inside scoop from former job candidates

You can also get a sense of what you’ll be asked and how the interview process will go from people who have been in the exact same scenario as you: previous job candidates!

Sites like Glassdoor and Blind make it fairly easy to get these insights. Simply search “[company name] interview process”, “What’s it’s like to interview for [company]?”, and “[company name] interview questions”.

If the company is too small, young, or under the radar to have online applicant reviews, consider asking someone who works there what to expect. The ideal person is a first- or second-degree connection; we don’t recommend asking a stranger.

Don’t expect to get the exact questions or challenges that you read online: hiring managers frequently change up what they’re asking to avoid having anyone prepare their responses in advance (you don’t want to get identical questions, either, as then the interview won’t be an accurate assessment of your fit for the job!).

3) Remember your process is as important as your answer

The technical interview is designed to measure how you think, just as much as what you know. With that in mind, don’t panic if you don’t immediately know the right answer or approach to a problem.

Stay calm, and focus on communicating your thoughts as you work. First, summarize what you understand about the problem. Not only will this buy you some time, but it may also reveal the next step or a potential solution.

Next, walk the hiring manager through your ideas: what you’re trying to accomplish and why. Even if you never land on the correct answer, you can still get a lot of interview points for your work.

Technical interviews are nerve-wracking. Fortunately, with a solid strategy, you can dramatically improve your chances of nailing them.

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Picture this: it’s your fifth interview of the day. You’ve already met with your potential boss, her boss, two coworkers, and now you’re talking to the head of the entire department. You’ve answered roughly 70 questions—some of them over and over. You’re exhausted.

So when the department head sits back and says, “That was all I had. Do you have any questions for me?”, you shake your head and say, “No, I don’t think so!”

Unfortunately, as understandable as this move might be, it’s going to hurt your chances of getting the job.

Because let’s flip this and put ourselves in the interviewer’s shoes. Deciding to take a new job is a huge decision. The applicant should want to know as much as possible. Turning down a chance to get more information from a super knowledgeable source just doesn’t bode well.

Luckily, we’re here with six tips for picking the perfect questions to ask your interviewer.

1) Go outside the box

Generic questions such as, “What’s a ‘day in the life’ for this role?” or “Which qualities would help me excel in this job?” aren’t ideal because, well, they’re generic. Most people who Google “questions to ask your interviewer” will find the same 10–20 ideas—which means your interviewer has been asked the same questions many, many times.

You want to stand out. So while these lists can be a good source of inspiration, we encourage you to develop your own questions.

Which brings us to the second tip…

2) Think about what you actually want to know

The best way to come up with strong questions? Think about what you actually want to know!

Obviously, this will depend on the specific company and role, as well as the things you’ve already learned throughout the interview process.

For example, maybe you’re applying to a distributed team (i.e., a team where the members work from multiple locations). Naturally, you’re curious to know how this works. How are meeting times chosen? What does the leader do to facilitate team bonding? Are there any major challenges to this set-up? Major benefits? All of these would make great discussion points for your interview.

Or perhaps you’re considering a job with a young company. You’d be employee number 10—and you’re coming from an organization of 1,000. Maybe you want to know all about the dynamics of a small team (which probably doesn’t have many resources). What are the opportunities and pain points? Is everyone from the original team still around? What are their expansion plans for the next year?

It can be tough to think of these questions on the spot, so take some time before the interview to write down everything you want to know. Then pull from that list during your conversations.

3) Remember you’re interviewing them, too

If you’re nervous about asking probing questions, our advice is simple: don’t be. Candidates often forget that they’re not the only ones being interviewed in this process. You’re interviewing the company, too!

It feels like the company has more power because the recruiter or hiring manager is setting the schedule and, ultimately, offering you a job. But you still have to accept. Try to remember this is a two-way street.

4) But don’t go too far

That doesn’t mean you can ask any question that comes to mind. There are several topics job seekers should steer clear of:

  • Asking how soon you could be promoted or switch departments: this makes you look unenthusiastic about the role you’re interviewing for.
  • Asking how vacation time works: it’s a legitimate thing to want to know, but it can make you seem less dedicated.
  • Asking how much you’ll be paid: this is a discussion best left to the offer stage (unless the hiring manager brings it up first).

Avoiding these three no-fly zones will ensure that all of your questions are appropriate and don’t raise any red flags.

5) And keep your questions relevant

There’s a lot of interviewing advice floating around out there—not all of it good. One particularly popular piece of wisdom? “Research your interviewer before the interview, then highlight the facts you’ve learned throughout the interview.”

While the intention is unimpeachable, the execution is not. After all, it’s not helpful to learn more about the interviewer’s college experience or current side gig. Sure, you might prove you spent five minutes the night before looking up their LinkedIn profile, but you don’t gain any insight into what you should be evaluating: the job and the company.

6) Reference earlier interviews

Let’s say, despite preparing a long list of questions, the first few people you meet with are extremely helpful…and you run out of questions halfway through the day.

Don’t panic! You can build on this intel by asking follow-up questions to your new interviewers. As a bonus, this will make you seem extra engaged.

To give you an idea, suppose you asked a lot of questions about the distributed team structure in your first two interviews.

During your third, you might say, “Anjana and Gregory told me about some of the ways the team collaborates long distance. I love the weekly tradition of getting paired up with someone to discuss your current projects and roadblocks. Where did that idea come from? And are there any similar activities you want to try with the team?”

Or maybe you’ve already gotten an in-depth explanation of the company’s tech stack. You could ask, “When was the last time you adopted a new tool or framework? What was the impetus? What’s the adoption process like?”

With a little prep work, you can nail this part of the interview. Good luck!

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It seems that not a day goes by without another major cybersecurity breach making headlines.

A whopping 80 percent of companies expect a critical breach in 2019, according to Trend Micro’s Cyber Risk Index. Due to many factors, including increased awareness of the threat of security breaches, companies are taking a hard look at the protective structures they have in place. Many are increasing security budgets and scrambling to ramp up their internal security measures. It’s no wonder, then, that according to a report by Global Market Insights, Inc., the enterprise cybersecurity market will be worth an estimated $300 billion by 2024.

A Cybersecurity Talent Shortage

While it’s certainly true that qualified cybersecurity candidates are in high demand, it’s not the whole story. The struggle to find candidates with necessary cybersecurity skills has left many organizations unable to find the qualified talent to fill critical roles. This cybersecurity skills shortage has impacted 74 percent of organizations, according to a study by ISSA and ESG. ISACA’s 2019 State of Cybersecurity study found that hiring managers say it can take more than six months to find qualified cybersecurity candidates.

For job seekers, this talent shortage is a wake-up call. If you’re not actively working to grow your skill set, you’re likely getting passed over by other job candidates who are. Cybersecurity certifications are important for a number of reasons, including the potential for salary increases and a more marketable resume.

According to CompTIA, 9 out of 10 employers agree that certifications are critical in finding the right person for the job. Earning new certifications is an excellent way to show potential employers that you’re up to speed on the latest industry threats and technologies, particularly if you’re in the earlier stages of your career.

“In general, the value of the certification is based upon the current phase in your career. For example, if you are new to an industry, holding a certification will establish a baseline of capability and knowledge,” says Christopher Gerg, Vice President of Risk Management at Gillware.

6 In-Demand Cybersecurity Certifications

Figuring out what to focus on in a sea of ever-changing cybersecurity acronyms can be overwhelming, so we’ve broken it down for you. Read below for the who, what, how, and why of a selection of the top cybersecurity certifications that are on employers’ wish lists right now:

1. CompTIA Security+

This is the perhaps the first certification IT professionals should earn. Security+ establishes the core knowledge required of any cybersecurity role, and provides a springboard to intermediate-level security jobs. It focuses on the latest trends and techniques in risk management, risk mitigation, threat management, and intrusion detection. CompTIA (the Computing Technology Industry Association) offers the certification.

Why you need it:  Security+ will give you a solid foundation on which to start building your cybersecurity career. This certification also provides best practices in hands-on troubleshooting to ensure that you have practical security problem-solving skills you can use in real-life work situations.

Who it’s for: IT professionals who want to know how to address security incidents.

Skills it covers: Detection of threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities; identity and access management; installing, configuring, and deploying network components; risk management; architecture and design; cryptography & PKI. See more details here.

Jobs that use Security+: Systems administrator; network administrator; security administrator; security specialist; security engineer; junior IT auditor/penetration tester; security consultant.

How to get certified: The exam is comprised of a maximum of 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions. Recommended experience to take the exam: CompTIA Network+ and two years of experience in IT administration with a security focus. Get more certification details here.

Accreditation & compliance details: Security+ is compliant with ISO 17024 standards and approved by the US DoD to meet directive 8140/8570.01-M requirements.

What others are saying: “The Security+ is a good foundational entry into cybersecurity, then from there, how the individual’s career goes will dictate if they go on a more technical journey or more managerial path. With that said, certifications for those with little to no practical work experience are definitely a plus,“ says Terence Jackson, CISO of Thycotic.

“Security+ demonstrates that the certified individual has a basic understanding of security principles,” says Erich Kron, Security Awareness Evangelist for KnowBe4.

2. CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor)

This globally recognized certification, offered by ISACA (formerly known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association), involves the auditing, control, and security of information technology and business systems.

Why you need it: In ISACA’s words: “Being CISA-certified showcases your audit experience, skills, and knowledge, and demonstrates you are capable to assess vulnerabilities, report on compliance and institute controls within the enterprise.”

Who it’s for: IS audit control, assurance, and security professionals. Some business and governmental agency roles require CISA. ISACA says CISA is considered the “gold standard” for IS/IT certifications. Learn more about CISA here.

Skills it covers: Auditing information systems; governance and management of IT; information systems acquisition, development, and implementation; information systems operations, maintenance and service management; protection of information assets.

Jobs that use CISA: Information systems (IS) auditor; IT auditor; IS analyst; public accounting auditor; network operation security engineer; IT risk and assurance manager; internal auditor.

How to get certified: A minimum of five years of professional information systems auditing, control, or security work experience is required to become certified (substitutions and waivers are available). See the requirements for CISA certification.

Accreditation & compliance details: The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has accredited the CISA certification program under ISO/IEC 17024:2012.

What others are saying: “For someone with an established career in information security, I would recommend the two advanced certifications— CISA and CISSP. Both require a great deal of experience in the industry and are very difficult examinations that cover a very wide range of knowledge,” says Gerg.

3. CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)

Offered by the cybersecurity and IT security professional organization (ISC)², CISSP certifies that you have the knowledge and expertise to design, develop, and manage a best-in-class cybersecurity program.

Why you need it: CISSP is arguably one of the most popular cybersecurity certifications out there. The majority of cybersecurity professionals in a survey conducted by ISCN, the Information Security Careers Network, said it was the best cybersecurity certification to have; it enabled them to perform their jobs better and it gave them real-world skills.

Who it’s for: According to (ISC)², the CISSP isn’t for everyone. It’s ideal for “experienced security practitioners, managers and executives interested in proving their knowledge across a wide array of security practices and principles.”

As Kron says, “The CISSP is designed to demonstrate that the certified individual has five or more years of information security experience.” Find out if CISSP is right for you.

Skills it covers: Security and risk management; asset security; security engineering; communications and network security; identity and access management; security assessment and testing; security operations; software development security.

The CISSP exam evaluates your expertise across eight security domains, or “topics,” that you must master based on your professional experience and education. (ISC)² has an “Ultimate Guide to CISSP” with more details about the path to certification.

Jobs that use CISSP: CISO, CIO, director of security, IT director/manager, security systems engineer, security analyst, security manager, security auditor, security architect, security consultant, network architect.

How to get certified: To qualify for this cybersecurity certification, you must pass the exam and have at least five years of cumulative, paid work experience in two or more of the eight domains of the (ISC)² CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). Some exceptions may apply, and if you don’t have the required experience yet, you can pass the exam and become an Associate of Associate of (ISC)² while you earn the required work experience.

Accreditation & compliance details: CISSP is formally approved by the U.S. Department of Defense in both their Information Assurance Technical (IAT) and Managerial (IAM) categories for their DoCC 8570 certification requirement.

What others are saying: “The (ISC)2 CISSP is still a top certification when looking for people in management or senior information security positions,” says Kron.

4. CISM (Certified Information Security Manager)

Why you need it:  Security failures can result in significant loss of trust from customers, clients, employees, and other stakeholders, as well as damage to an enterprise’s bottom line as well as its reputation. Demand for skilled information security management professionals continues to rise. According to ISACA, “The uniquely management-focused CISM certification is the globally accepted standard of achievement in this area.”

Who it’s for: Information security managers and those with information security management responsibilities. CISM is a management-focused certification for those who design, build, and manage enterprise information security programs. Get a detailed overview of CISM here.

Skills it covers: The exam covers four job practice domains: information security governance; information risk management; information security program development and management; and information security incident management. Those who certify demonstrate technical competence, as well as a deep understanding of the relationship between information security programs and broader business goals and objectives.

Jobs that use CISM: Information security manager; IS/IT consultant; CIO; information risk compliance specialist; and other risk management professionals. ISACA notes that earning a CISM is considered a good path from security technologist to security manager.

How to get certified: The first step to becoming CISM certified is to take and pass the CISM certification exam, which consists of 150 questions covering four job practice domains. Exam experience substitutions may apply for CISAs and CISSPs in good standing.

Accreditation & compliance details: The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has accredited the CISM certification program under ISO/IEC 17024:2003.

What others are saying: “If you’re not intending to perform auditing work, and instead intending to manage the information security of an organization, consider the CISM. If you’re doing the work to pass the CISA, you will likely be ready to sit for the CISM without much additional work,” says Gerg.

5. CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker)

“To beat a hacker, you need to think like a hacker.” Wise words from EC-Council (the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants), the professional organization that offers the CEH certification.

Why you need it: CEH is used as a hiring standard and is a core sought-after certification by many Fortune 500 organizations, governments, and cybersecurity practices. While the demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals continues to grow, it’s evolving, and the sophistication of threats requires a higher level of skill and ability—which is often where CEH certification shines. Get a detailed look at CEH here.

Who it’s for: Professional information security specialists who are interested in ethical hacking on behalf of an organization. EC-Council describes the Certified Ethical Hacker as “a skilled professional who understands and knows how to look for weaknesses and vulnerabilities in target systems and uses the same knowledge and tools as a malicious hacker, but in a lawful and legitimate manner to assess the security posture of a target system(s).”

Skills it covers: Advanced hacking tools and techniques used by hackers and information security professionals.

Jobs that use CEH: Security officers; auditors; ethical hackers; web managers; site administrators; network administrators and engineers; security professionals; any professionals concerned with network infrastructure.

Accreditation & compliance details: The C|EH exam is ANSI compliant.

How to get certified: EC-Council’s training course for certification is a good place to start. It includes over 140 labs that mimic real scenarios you might encounter in a work environment, as well as over 2,200 commonly used hacking tools to immerse participants in the hacker world. The goal of this course, in their words, is “to help you master an ethical hacking methodology that can be used in a penetration testing or ethical hacking situation.”

What others are saying: “There are a ton of cybersecurity certifications that one can go after. CEH, Security +, CISM, CISSP are among some of the most popular ones,” says Jackson.

6. OSCP (Offensive Security Certified Professional)

Who it’s for: Information security professionals interested in ethical hacking technologies, gaining real-world skills, and mastering a comprehensive and practical understanding of the penetration testing process.

Skills it covers: Write basic scripts and tools to aid in the penetration testing process; analyze, correct, modify, cross-compile, and port public exploit code; successfully conduct both remote and client-side attacks; and more.

Jobs that use OSCP: Penetration tester; security engineer; security consultant; information security analyst.

How to get certified: The only way to become certified is to complete Offensive Security’s Penetration Testing with Kali Linux (PwK) course and pass the 24-hour hands-on exam, which consists of a virtual network containing targets of varying configurations and operating systems. Get more details about OSCP here.

Why you need it: Earning your OSCP shows that you have mastered an understanding of the penetration testing process, and that you can think both outside the box and laterally. In the words of Offensive Security, “An OSCP, by definition, is able to identify existing vulnerabilities and execute organized attacks in a controlled and focused manner, write simple Bash or Python scripts, modify existing exploit code to their advantage, perform network pivoting and data ex-filtration, and compromise poorly written PHP web applications.”

What others are saying: “For penetration testers, the Offensive Security OSCP certification really tops the charts,” says Kron. He adds that some certification exams can be vulnerable to cheating, but that “because the OSCP requires hands-on demonstrations of skill in a virtual lab, and because the CISSP is governed by ISO/IEC Standard 17024, neither of these exams are easy to cheat. This means if a person holds these credentials, they genuinely have the knowledge that is expected.”

Deciding which certifications are valuable for you

Getting certified isn’t just a matter of picking them out of a hat—or earning as many as you possibly can (not to mention that that would get rather expensive). Rather, think of certifications in terms of 1) where you are in your career, and 2) the specific job roles you’re interested in or are actively applying for. Focusing on these certifications will be better aligned with your career path and help you market yourself for the jobs you really want.

As Gerg says, “There is obvious value in matching the certification to the type of work you are trying to do— the Certified Ethical Hacker and Offensive Security Certified professional certifications would be of limited value if I am trying to hire a penetration tester or security analyst for a CISO office to perform risk assessment work.”

Certifications are a piece of the puzzle

Certifications can give job candidates, particularly those starting out in the cybersecurity field, an edge when it comes to getting hired in an increasingly sophisticated field. As Kron points out, however, certification isn’t a substitute for hands-on experience. “Just because a person holds a certification, it does not automatically make them a fit for a job. That is where the resume and interview process takes over and ensures you have the right person for the job,” he says. 

Certifications, while important, aren’t the be-all and end-all, so if you aren’t currently able to get certified due to financial or logistical constraints, focus on other ways to stand apart. Regardless of where you are in your career, taking advantage of learning opportunities—whether through certifications, trainings, conferences, networking events— is always going to add value to your professional career.  “Cybersecurity changes at such a rapid pace that we all must be lifelong students. The moment you top being teachable, is the moment your skills will begin to atrophy,” says Jackson.

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On a scale of 1 to 10, from “very insecure about my work and expertise” to “incredibly confident in my work and expertise,” where do you fall?

According to the International Journal of Behavioral Science, 7 in 10 people experience “imposter syndrome,” or the belief that their success is due to luck rather than hard work or ability. In other words, most professionals are much closer to “1” on the spectrum than “10.”

In this post, we’ll share five actionable techniques for bolstering confidence in your work and worth.

1) Document everything

Make a habit of writing down every:

  • Experiment you’ve run (even when they weren’t successful)
  • Surprising conclusion you’ve come to
  • Significant mistake you’ve made, as well as how you’ll avoid similar ones going forward or what you took away from it)

It sounds like a lot, but it’s really just a 30-minute exercise at the end of every month. The reminder to reflect is a bonus.

These notes will give you a fantastic overview of your work and professional progress, and they come in handy all the time: in performance reviews, during status meetings, for promotion or raise requests, etc. And, they’ll boost your confidence. With a written record of everything you’re achieving, you’re less likely to doubt yourself.

2) Don’t apologize (needlessly)

Saying “sorry” too much may be holding you back. When you apologize for tiny things, like starting to talk at the same time as someone else or mishearing what they said, you lessen the import of a true apology. And perhaps, more importantly, you seem less confident.

Pay attention to how frequently the leaders at your company say sorry. It’s not often—and when they do say it, the situation truly warrants it (A good gut test: if you’d want to hear “sorry” if you were in their shoes, you should say it.).

For small things, try these lines instead of apologizing:

  • “Thanks for your [patience, time, recommendations.]”
  • “Great call—I’ll try that [next time, going forward.]”
  • “I appreciate you pointing that out. I meant to [say, write] X…”
  • “That’s a good point. In that case…”
  • “Oops.” (This is the closest to an apology I’ll voice, and I save it for bloopers like spilling my coffee or getting a date wrong.).

At first, it’ll require energy and attention to swap “sorry” with these alternatives. We promise it will get easier over time—and the payoff is irrefutably worth it.

3) Get comfortable with silence

Learning to embrace silence, rather than running from it screaming, will dramatically increase how confident others perceive you.

If you’re clearly comfortable with some silence now and then, you’ll seem more calm, collected, and in control—the three Cs. “Some” being the operative word—you don’t want to stop talking altogether or you’ll come across as the fourth C: creepy.

Introduce a pause during these scenarios:

  • You’ve just said something meaningful. Going silent will emphasize your point and help the impact sink in.
  • You’re listening to someone else talk. Taking a beat will show that you’re truly engaged (and it also gives them the opportunity to open up further, which they often will take!).
  • You’re not happy with what someone else just said. Saying nothing is more effective than reacting and can prompt the person into reversing their decision.
4) Focus on your strengths

Dwelling on what you’re bad at or know little about will, unsurprisingly, make you feel worse about yourself.

On the flip side, thinking about what you’re good at and know a lot about will make you feel more confident.

The trouble is, we’re biologically wired toward the negative. Give someone two pieces of news—one fantastic and one horrible—and the horrible news will have a far greater impact on their mood.

That means you can’t expect your mind to keep objective track of your wins versus your losses. You need to train yourself to focus on your strengths.

We recommend sending yourself an email every night listing three things you accomplished that day, and reading it in the morning. It’s a wonderful way to start and end your day.

5) Work with a leadership coach

This last strategy is the most actionable. If hiring a leadership coach is in your budget (or your company’s), definitely think about it. A leadership coach can help you work on all the things, both large and small, that might be holding you back.

For example, maybe you struggle with eye contact or bad posture. Or maybe, on a more serious note, you freeze up every time you’re in a meeting with new people. The coach will work with you to identify these issues to lessen or eliminate them. The effects can last your entire career—which is why this is a great investment.

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Lots of professionals have stories about their coworker, mentor and, most commonly, boss being really honest with them—and that honesty helping them evolve.

Kim Scott, former leadership coach to top tech CEOs and founder of Candor, Inc., popularized this concept in Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity.

We highly recommend the book. But if you want the highlights, or simply a sneak peek, read on.

The three responsibilities of a leader

According to Scott, a leader must accomplish three things: create a feedback culture (praise and criticism), form a cohesive team, and produce results everyone is happy with.

Okay, that’s easier said than done. But Scott says it all comes down to your communication style.

The four types of communication

You can group communication styles into four buckets:

  1. Manipulative insincerity: You don’t give negative feedback because you want to avoid the awkwardness it’ll cause or are too lazy to voice your concerns.
  2. Ruinous empathy:You don’t give negative feedback because you’re worried you’ll make your employee feel bad.
  3. Obnoxious aggression: You give negative feedback, but you don’t care about your employee, so it’s hurtful.
  4. Radical candor: You give negative feedback, but you care about your employee and deliver it with empathy, so it’s effective.

Unsurprisingly, Scott wants us all to practice radical candor.

But how?

Figure out what drives your employees

To care about your direct reports, you need to understand what motivates them. Scott gives us two more categories:

  1. Superstars: “Agents of change”—highly motivated, always looking for opportunities to grow.
  2. Rockstars: “Agents of stability”—content with the status quo, looking for stability.

Neither type is better than the other. If everyone on your team is a superstar, you’ll have trouble keeping them all satisfied and engaged. If, on the other hand, everyone is a rockstar, you’ll struggle to keep the team’s momentum.

Identify the superstars and rockstars on your team. Then go a step further and probe into their long-term goals. How does this role fit into the bigger picture for them?

Knowing these details about each person you manage will show them that you’re invested in their growth and help you help them.

Encourage healthy debate

A leader should not be a dictator. Scott explains that making big decisions by yourself—even though it might seem like the most efficient route—will alienate your team. And that’ll sabotage your plan because, remember, they’re the ones who will be executing it!

If you want your employees’ buy-in, you must involve them in the discussion. Scott shares this framework:

  • Listen: Really listen, rather than waiting for your turn to talk. Make it clear you care about your team’s opinions.
  • Clarify: Don’t react until they’ve had a chance to fully explain their idea. Ask questions rather than immediately saying, “That won’t work because…” or “We shouldn’t do that since…”
  • Debate: Encourage (respectful) discussion. The best ideas are born from a lot of back-and-forth.
  • Decide: Now make the call. As the leader, you have the final say.
  • Persuade: Share the plan with the larger team. It’s your job to sell this idea to the higher-ups.
  • Execute: Manage the plan’s execution.
  • Learn: Reflect on the results, ask yourself whether you’d do the same thing again and/or what you would change, and then apply those takeaways to the next project.
Solicit feedback

There’s a simple way to earn your team’s respect and show them you’re receptive to hearing feedback, too.

Ask them, “How can I support you more effectively? Is there anything I’m doing that makes your job harder?”

Take what you learn and apply it. After you’ve done this a few times, it’ll be clear that you’re invested in the process.

Scott also encourages managers to print out the Radical Candor matrix (which lays out the four communication types) and follow up with employees after their last interaction to see where they’d place it on the grid. Finally, radically candid bosses should eliminate any potential for backstabbing. Don’t act as the go-between for two of your reports; get them to talk to each other and try to resolve their issues first before coming to you. This makes your team culture healthier and more honest.

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The first day—whether it’s of school, camp, or these days, work—is always nerve-wracking. You don’t know what to expect, who you’ll meet, or what you’ll do. That mystery is also exciting, of course…but mostly terrifying.

It might be hard to remember this emotion when you’re well-established at your job, but try to recall it every time you bring a new employee on board. They’re going to be anxious. How can you make the transition as smooth as possible?

To help you orient new hires, we’ve put together a quick guide.

1) Send them a welcome message

After the hiring manager or recruiter has let the candidate know that they’ve gotten the job, but before their start date, send them a message officially welcoming them to the team. This helps ease some of the first-week nervousness and reinforces your excitement about working with them.

If there’s anything they should know in advance (hint: there usually is), this email is a good place to include that info. For example, maybe you’ll take them out to lunch on their first day, so they won’t need to worry about buying or bringing it. Or perhaps there’s a quick training session all new hires attend, so they should arrive at 8:30.

2) Give them some swag

People love free stuff. That makes company-branded gifts a great way to welcome them to the team, drum up their “school spirit,” and get them even more excited about their new role.

Plus, swag is pretty inexpensive when you buy in bulk. We recommend purchasing a big order of items like baseball hats (with your organization’s logo, of course), phone chargers (in your company’s colors), Yeti mugs, and desk organizers.

If you want to get really creative, you can opt for yoga mats (perfect if your organization has a “healthy at work” initiative or something along those lines), puzzle sets, Jenga towers, or even branded Pop Sockets.

Put this swag bag on your new employee’s desk so they have something fun to open their first day. If they’re remote, schedule it to arrive the day they start.

Not only will they be thrilled, you may get tagged in a social media post—which will boost your employer brand and encourage others to join your team.

3) Create a handbook

New companies are confusing, no matter how seasoned someone is. There are unfamiliar policies, unwritten office norms, quirky traditions, strange jargon, and years and years of company history.

Make the transition a little easier for your new team members by creating an employee manual. This guide should cover everything about your company that a new employee would find helpful—from the official, such as “If you arrive earlier than 8 a.m., your key card will only work on the main door,” to the unofficial, like “There are six decent restaurants within a five-minute walk. If you like Italian, we recommend…”

Not sure what to include in your handbook, besides the super basics? Try asking ten or so employees from across the company what they wished they’d known their first month. Along with getting great material, you’ll probably learn a lot about how new employees experience the transition, what works, and what could be improved.

These three ideas will help you provide a great first impression of your company and team and, more importantly, get your new hires excited to work together.

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Most people say networking with invisible air quotes (and sometimes an eye roll): “Networking.” As in, that activity we know we’re supposed to do, but always feels silly.

As in, that thing on our to-do list that always gets superseded by more tangible items, such as updating our resume or publishing an update on GitHub.

As in, that reason we sign up for tech talks and software developer conferences and programmer meetups—and inevitably end up talking to those we already know.

We get it. We’ve been there ourselves.  But here’s the key to successful networking: you have to reach out to people on your level.

If you message someone who’s way further along in their career, you might get a response, or you might not. Chances are, that person is extremely busy—and most of the knowledge is going to flow one way: from them to you.

If you connect with someone who’s less advanced than you, the opposite is true: they’ll learn a lot from you, but you’ll get less from the relationship (We’re not suggesting that you never sit down with junior folks. On the contrary, doing so is a fantastic way to give back to your professional community; it’s just not the right option for this type of networking.).

Talking to someone who’s at the same place as you is the best of both worlds. You can learn from them, they can learn from you, and if either of you gets a career opportunity that you decide not to take, you can recommend your peer.

Wondering how to start? Here are our suggestions:

1) Come up with a list of titles equivalent to yours

The first step is figuring out who’s eligible for outreach. Maybe everyone in your role has the same title. For example, if you’re a product manager, finding other product managers is going to be simple—the most variety you’ll probably see is “associate” product manager versus “senior” or “principal.”

If you’re a Tableau specialist, on the other hand, your contemporaries could go by a bunch of different names: data analyst, Tableau developer, BI strategist, analytics manager, BI engineer…and the list could go on and on.

Come up with all the variations you can think of on your specific title. LinkedIn is a great resource here; we recommend searching your core qualifications and seeing which jobs and/or people come up.

2) Find your prospects

That brings us to the next step: identifying good candidates for connecting. Armed with your list of job titles, run some LinkedIn searches.

Don’t restrict yourself to your industry or geographic area—you can learn a ton from people in other verticals or parts of the world. All that really matters is that their job is similar to yours, and that’s covered thanks to the filtering you did in the previous step.

Try not to be picky. After all, it takes a little less than a minute to reach out to each person, and there’s virtually zero downside. The worst they can do is not respond.

3) Use the right template

Writing the message is probably the hardest part and, luckily, we’ve already done most of the hard work.

Feel free to use this template as is or make some tweaks so it’s closer to your voice.

Hi [name],

Hope you’re doing well. I came across your profile while searching for [job title]—I do [X] for [company], and I’m hoping we can share learnings, challenges, etc. I’ve done this with a few other folks and it’s been pretty insightful. Let me know if you’re interested in [a call, getting coffee.]

Best,

[Your name]

Note: There’s a 300-character limit for LinkedIn connection invites, so you may need to get a little creative to make your entire message fit.

4) Prepare for the conversation

Lining up some questions and conversation-starters in advance is key; you don’t want to go in without an agenda, or there’s a decent chance you’ll spend all your time on superficial topics.

There are a few things we recommend asking everyone:

  • What problem are you currently trying to solve?
  • What’s something you tried in the last year that worked/you’re proud of?
  • How can I help you?

The first two questions typically lead to valuable, interesting discussions, and the last helps you reciprocate their willingness to help you. We also recommend crafting some personalized questions for each person based on their job and/or experience, such as, “What did you learn while working at [former company]?” “Who do you follow in [Y industry]?”

We hope this strategy helps you learn from your peers, form new connections, and develop your reputation in the field.

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Knowing your leadership style is important far before you’re promoted to management. Whether you’re an individual contributor, tech lead, mentor, or supervisor, a clear sense of how you operate best will make you much more effective. It also allows you to adapt your style to the circumstances. Read on to discover the five most common types of leadership.

1) Telling

Telling is the simplest form of leadership. You tell someone else what to do and how to do it. If they follow your instructions correctly and complete the task, you reward them (note: it doesn’t have to be anything concrete, like a gift card or a bonus vacation day; in most cases, the reward is positive feedback).

If the person doesn’t do what you’ve asked, you punish them (again, usually negative feedback).

This style eliminates a lot of the uncertainty that may come with other styles. But, unsurprisingly, it makes it impossible for your team to act autonomously—which most people will really chafe at. Telling leadership is best suited for entry-level employees whom you’re not actively trying to help develop (think seasonal retail roles).

2) Shared

This style of leadership is almost the exact opposite. It’s far more democratic, meaning that the group members take a highly active role in decision-making. The leader encourages everyone to voice their thoughts freely and give frequent feedback.

For example, if the team needs to commit to the features they’re building for a new app, the lead will get everyone together to discuss the various options and their pros and cons. After every member has had the opportunity to speak, the team votes.

On the plus side, this style makes people feel engaged, heard, and impactful. However, it can also introduce added complexity and stress—sometimes you just need a decision made.

3) Laissez-faire

A laissez-faire leader hands over nearly all decision-making to his subordinates. He supplies tools and resources—and typically some high-level directions—but the rest is up to the team to decide.

In rare circumstances, this setup can work really well. Warren Buffett, for example, is a famously hands-off employer; after he buys a private company, he’ll leave the leadership team alone so they can run it as if the acquisition never happened at all.

The key to effective laissez-faire leadership? You need an extremely high-achieving team that wants to run independently. You should also provide everything they’ll need to get the job done; e.g., budget, access to other stakeholders, your endorsement, etc.

4) Visionary

A visionary leader acts as the driving inspiration and motivation for her team. Similarly to a laissez-faire leader, a visionary leader tells her reports where they need to go and why, but not necessarily how they’ll get there.

This style can be enormously liberating. People feel empowered to try new things and take the risks. It’s especially important for an organization going through a strategic change.

However, if your vision is at odds with the overall company direction, the results usually aren’t good. Even if you are perfectly in sync with those above you, it might be hard to consistently make progress without someone managing all the details.

All in all, visionary leadership is a good compromise between the laissez-faire and telling approaches.

5) Coaching

A coaching leader focuses on developing his team members. He cares about their success in their current roles—but he’s nearly as invested in their career progression. In other words, he’s not just asking, “How can I help you right now?”, he’s also asking, “How can I set you up for your next job, and the one after that?”

The coaching style usually involves a lot of back-and-forth about the skills each team member wants to develop and experiences they want to have. The manager uses that information to suggest new projects and learning opportunities tailored to each person’s professional goals.

This framework works best when the team members want to grow (not everyone does!) and the manager can provide upward or lateral movement. Which leadership style sounds most like you? Which one do you want to adopt? Let us know in the comments.

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Written by our very own Mark Aiello, as a member of Forbes Councils, and recently seen on Forbes.com.

You are happy in your current job and not looking to make a move. Did you know Cybersecurity Ventures estimated there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings by 2021 (via CSO) and that ISC(2) estimated there was a gap of nearly 500,000 workers in North America as of 2018? Of course you do. If you haven’t interviewed in at least two years, please take my advice, and make it a regular element of your career knowledge progression plan. Here’s why.

It helps you determine your worth.

This seems obvious, right? During my time at a cybersecurity staffing firm, I’ve learned that your worth is largely determined by the market, not by your company. The best way to know your worth is to find out what companies will pay you. And one of the best ways to find this out is to interview. In my experience, there is a good chance that you’re underpaid if you have been at your current job for at least two years. And worth is not just about compensation. What is your possible career progression? Are you comfortable that your company is recognized as a leader in cybersecurity?

It forces you to keep your resume current.

I speak with people regularly who have not updated their resume in years. A LinkedIn profile is not a resume. Most companies will require you to present a resume when you’re interviewing. This will force you to document your accomplishments and new skills you’ve learned. It is easy to update every six months and almost impossible to update accurately every six years. This exercise will pay off in the long run and is a bit of insurance in the event that your company is sold. It also enables you to compare your skills and knowledge against others’ — and it’s a way to learn if your skills are current or stuck in the past.

It keeps your interviewing skills sharp.

When was the last time you interviewed? Do you still have the old mojo working for you? You probably don’t know the answer because you haven’t interviewed in a while. Get out there and interview. It helps to keep your interviewing skills sharp. Think of it as practice. How do people dress for an interview? What is this video interview thing I’m hearing about? A lot has probably changed since your last interview. No longer do you have to take a day off to interview in every case. Find a quiet place, pop in your AirPods and take the call.

It helps you learn what other companies are doing.

If you’re in security, you’re probably a naturally curious person. Aren’t you interested in learning about what other companies are doing to secure their networks and data? You can sometimes learn more in a two-hour interview than a one-week conference. It’s a great opportunity for you to ask questions and learn what you don’t know. You can then take that information back to your current company and hopefully increase your worth. The experience of one minute of doing something can be worth hours of reading about it.

It keeps your options open in case your company is sold.

So, you don’t think it could happen to you? Did you know that according to the U.S. Census Bureau (via the Small Business Association), in 2010 there were 27.9 million small businesses and 18,500 businesses with 500 or more employees in the U.S.? Did you know that, according to the 2018 BizBuySell Insight Report, 10,312 small businesses were reported sold in 2018? So, did you change your mind? Consider interviewing as your personal job insurance policy in the event of an unanticipated change. Don’t be caught without a career plan. Take the interview and help expand your personal network.

Take my advice, and say yes to the next company that contacts you about a job opening. If you are happy in your current role, let the company know — but add that it doesn’t hurt to talk. It’s a great way to find out if you’re on the right path toward your career goals. It’s also good for your self-confidence to know that you are wanted.

About Mark Aiello
With 30 years of IT and Cybersecurity consultant and staffing experience, Mark Aiello is V.P. of Cybersecurity Operations at Signature Consultants. Aiello is an innovative strategist and marketer with a tireless passion for the cybersecurity industry and helping companies stay safe by providing expert consultants and employees. Signature Consultants is the 15th largest IT Staffing Firm in the U.S.

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