Ready to find your next career opportunity? No matter if you have only two years of experience or 20+ years, you’ve probably received advice on how you should approach your job search. But much like the tabloids you find at the grocery store, the advice you received from your cousin or acquaintance may vary in its truthfulness. This is why going directly to the source is important.

Good news for you – we’ve done just that by compiling a list of top tips that organizations – from Booz Allen to Microsoft – have shared with us about how to stand out from your competition and to secure your next opportunity.

Prove your knowledge

You’ve might have heard the saying before that gone are the days that you can earn a degree and just work at an organization throughout your career. And you know what, they’re right. Because the world is changing rapidly and innovation continues to thrive through emerging technologies, the old ways of working are dead. To now stay relevant and appealing to organizations, you need to demonstrate lifelong learning.

Now, this can take multiple forms like earning an additional degree, but it can also be earning a certification or taking online courses. Certifications can take many forms and vary based on industry. Peraton, for instance, suggests that cyber professionals possess certifications in AWS, Microsoft, Splunk, and ServiceNow in order to stand out while Microsoft recommends Azure Certifications, DevOps trainings, and Security certifications.

No matter your field of interest, it is important for you to do your homework. Figure out what’s required of you, whether it’s the types of degrees you need for education, the specific certifications you should possess, and the types of work experience or leadership roles you need to have in order to get to where you want to be.

Embrace an inquisitive mindset

Learning takes many forms and while taking courses and earning degrees and certifications can be a powerful tool to standing out, it’s also important you embrace an inquisitive mindset when approaching work. Possessing this mindset means you’re not afraid to learn and will speak out or raise a hand when you don’t know the answer.

Jermaine Roebuck, deputy associate director at CISA, believes asking questions is one of the best qualities he feels candidates should possess as they tend to be the most successful at their jobs. For them, hiring problem solvers is key to tackling the unknown and finding the solutions.

If you’re looking to develop your curiosity around the workplace, here are some quick tips.

  • Apply a beginner’s mind: Allow yourself to be open to and look for new ways of doing things.
  • Ask, listen, and review: Seek first to understand before doing.
  • Try something new: Mix up your day to find new opportunities for inspiration, whether it’s taking a different route to work, reading a book in a genre you usually avoid, or trying a new activity. These unique experiences can open your mind to new points of view.
  • Learn from others. Whether in person or through social media, networking plays an important role in your career growth. According to Heather Holdaway, a recruiter at Booz Allen Hamilton, it’s good to learn from others who’ve been right where you are. “The more people you know, the more people you can contact if you need help navigating your career path.”

Take a leap of faith

Depending on the type of role, a company can receive hundreds of applications within a week. For you as a prospective employee, those odds aren’t great if you’re looking to stand out. That’s where taking a leap of faith comes into play.

Taking a leap doesn’t just mean applying for a job – whether or not you’re fully qualified – it’s putting yourself out there and reaching out to recruiters and hiring managers of the job posting. To stand out with Microsoft, they recommend reaching out to their cleared recruiters and hiring managers online and being ready with your resume, elevator pitch, and the skills you possess that’ll help you succeed in the role.

“Stand out with your skills and specific clearance that match what we need. Make it clear you understand the company, the role you’re interested in, and why you’re a good fit.”

Be uniquely you

One of the most emphasized growth areas for any organizations that employs security cleared professions is hiring and maintaining a diversified workforce.

For organizations like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, employing people who possess diverse thoughts, experiences and backgrounds is important to tackling complex problems with every angle in mind. This approach can often lead to strong company cultures that embrace self-empowerment and the fostering of innovation and creativity, which is needed when tackling challenges in military, cybersecurity, and intelligence.

The emphasis on diversity and inclusion expands across all organizations and industries. For instance, CISA also prioritizes the hiring of a diverse workforce to help understand the concerns, the requirements, and the needs of US citizens.

“Because everybody in the United States is a part of the “we,” and we need to ensure that their voices are being heard collectively, as we try to develop those principles, ideas, practices, and techniques to improve security and resilience,” said Billy Bob Brown Jr., Assistant Director for Emergency Communications at CISA.


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Brandon Osgood is a strategic communications and digital marketing professional based out of Raleigh, NC. Beyond being a passionate storyteller, Brandon is an avid classical musician with dreams of one day playing at Carnegie Hall. Interested in connecting? Email him at