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Gainfully Employed: Foreground Security

As noted on Sept. 22nd (see "IMMEDIATE AVAILABILITY: Looking for Work"), I lost my job in Phoenix and was in need of work. 2 weeks later (Oct 6th) I accepted a position with Foreground Security as a Senior Security Engineer, which will be moving us back to Northern Virginia. My initial engagement will be on a large contract with a civilian federal agency. Overall, an excellent opportunity!

I promised some people that I'd talk a bit about how the job search process went, and in particular look at how I was fortunate enough to get a job so quickly when others are looking for work, and have been for quite some time. Overall, it comes down to networking and luck. However, there's probably more to it than that.

Rough Timeline

Before I was escorted out of my office on Sept 22nd, I kicked off my job search with a quick tweet announcing that I needed a new job, and quickly. I started receiving supportive replies almost immediately, as well as DMs and other messaging. There was hardly time to keep up with it all - the outpouring of support was tremendous!

Driving home, I started making phone calls to people I knew who might know of work in the industry. During the 35-minute ride home I left messages for probably a dozen or more people, and chatted with at most a half-dozen others. My mind was still reeling from what had just happened, but I didn't really allow myself to focus on it as getting a job was far more important.

The next day I was contact by someone from Foreground Security. He'd seen my tweets about what I was looking for, and where we were interested in moving. It turns out that they had an immediate need for someone on a project and I might just fit the bill. I sent my resume over and spoke to them a day or so later. The following week I flew into DC/MD/VA to interview in person and had a great feeling overall about things. It then became a waiting game.

While all of that was going on, I was also sending my resume to anybody and everybody. I blogged about my immediate availability, and began refining (in writing, for myself) what it was I was interested in doing. I'd narrowed geography down to a few major cities (in conjunction with my wife), and we went from there. In the end, I looked at opportunities from coast-to-coast (Boston to LA) with a few stops in between. Much of my focus was on moving us back to Northern Virginia, from whence we'd moved in April.

On Oct. 5th I received an offer and on Oct. 6th I accepted one from Foreground Security. I interviewed for positions up through the afternoon of the 5th because one just never knows what will happen.

What Worked, What Didn't

Ultimately, networking brought me a job. It's really that simple. I only actually applied directly for a few jobs, and none of those panned out. In all other cases, I was either contacted by a headhunter, referred to a headhunter, or referred by a friend or colleague. Two of the jobs I directly applied for might have come to fruition eventually, but they were simply too slow-moving to make the cut. Almost everything else fell out for reasons ranging from there not really being a good opportunity to there simply not being a good fit between my background and interests and what the hiring company was seeking.

In contrast with previous job searches, this time I did not list my resume on job sites/boards. I made use of indeed.com to do some searching for opportunities, but I studiously avoided sites like Dice or Monster. I've not really had much in the way of success with these sites in the past, so I figured that I could hold them back as later resorts.

The big key seemed to be having a well-developed network. Twitter, in particular, has been a real boon for me, helping bring together my security and blogging interests into a true community. It was through this interface that I was able to be supported by friends, but also learn of new opportunities. I also leveraged my blog to post more details (beyond 140 chars) on what I was looking for.

Replicating My Success?

A logical question here would be how someone could replicate my success. Unfortunately, it's not an overnight thing, and really amounts to spending time before things go south, rather than trying to find help well after the fact. I think what this truly highlights is the importance of being engaged in the security community, being nice to people (well, most of the time, I guess), and just generally working to better the community. If you're not able to get plugged into a community like this, then you're going to likely have a more difficult time. When I look at friends who are having difficulties finding work today (while being unemployed), it seems to be because their network is not as large or as powerful as it could be. It's really almost impossible to underestimate the power of the community in helping others out.

What Next?

For me, my next steps are:
1) Moving (back) to Northern Virginia.
2) Re-engaging into the security community.
3) Resuming blogging and other writing activities.
4) Contribute back to the community, helping others as much as possible.

Numbers 2 and 3 have been collateral damage over the past couple weeks. Preparing for the move and for starting my new job has meant being away from keyboard (afk) for the better part of the time. I've also not had much in the way of security thinking on my brain (go figure).

For you, if you're looking for work, or think you may be in the not-too-distant future, I suggest next steps of:
1) Engage.
2) Engage.
3) Engage.

Get involved in the security community. Get involved in social media like Twitter and LinkedIn. If you want to write, get a blog going. If you already have a blog, then start promoting it a bit more. Engage people in conversation. Join Security Twits in Twitter. Etc, etc, etc.

That's really about all I can say. The entire experience for me has been quite remarkable. I've truly felt supported and swept-along by friends and colleagues. I've worked hard to contribute to the community this year, and so it was gratifying to see those investments in time and energy coming back to me. Hopefully my gain will be your gain, too.


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Comments (2)

5) Writing a book?


Congrats with a new job!!

The pasture is not always greener especially in the desert. It is tough economy out there. Good Luck on your new position..



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