Rebecca Caroe career

Linear Careers aren’t normal

Helping others get a career ‘step up’ is important work.

I’ve been working with OneUpOneDown and their inspirational founder Natalie Robinson to help my own transition towards governance work.

She asked me to share my career story – and so I did. It’s an article on their Career Stories blog.

Learn from others

What I found illuminating is that when you ask, few people have a totally linear career path.

I found it easy to presume that everyone was doing something that I was not doing in my job choices.

Sharing my story may help others work out their best next move.
How can you help? Sign up to either mentor or be a mentee at OneUpOneDown.

Squiggly Line Credit

This goes to Claudia Batten – whose video is worth watching. She also has a fine weekly newsletter about Squiggly careers from her website Squiggly Life.

 

Clubhouse room

Is voice the new marketing medium?

Voice – the oldest marketing and sales medium in the world and said to be “the second oldest profession” has now become the newest most exciting social media.

This week I have been doing a telephone survey and the freshness of insight I gained from speaking to real people whose job depends on having a good working relationship with my client was pure gold. I found them a chance to win back a big lapsed client; we understood their ethical leadership position in the industry; I was able to differentiate two core customer groups and develop golden questions to identify these tendencies in others.

As a marketing campaign it has delivered huge ROI already – and that was just the pilot.

Clubhouse rolls out

The launch of a digital chat room where you can speak (but not write or emoji) to other people who are gathering because they want to discuss the same topic as you has become the latest “wow” of the online social media world.

I see this as the digital opposite of my phone survey.

The excitement from pundits is real. Somehow having an app which allows users to schedule events with catchy titles like

  • 10x List Building Secrets
  • Shark Tank winners: how to be a founder and keep your sanity!
  • Beauty industry DISRUPTION [yes, their capitalisation, not mine]
  • How to talk to racists

is making marketing and tech folk around the world go mad with enthusiasm. [See screenshots at the bottom of the page.]

Some of these topics are frankly of no interest to me at all. And others have been nice chats with smart, well-meaning people. There’s a good UK marketing room which does “breakfast” every morning – they theme each weekday and sustainability was Wednesday and Tuesday was packaging. Both were well moderated and the topics included examples and case studies as well as discussion about challenges (Hello Fresh’s high plastic use; How to enable kids to unpack their toys and reuse cardboard as a play resource).

And copycats are already coming along – Fireside is a rival service already being talked about.

Same old same old?

Is Clubhouse just a symptom of the pandemic or has a truly new marketing medium launched?

The nicest part of a voice only platform has been the civility. Attendees don’t seem ready to yell and abuse each other and there hasn’t yet been a “Jackie Weaver” incident made public. A kinder version of the internet would certainly be welcomed.

I was also introduced to Frames this week – a virtual reality version of Zoom which is in private Alpha. It looks like any VR room but allows you to speak to other avatars; to live stream; put “pictures” and video onto the walls of rooms and design the virtual environment. The best part is a little blue line across the floor where your conversation can only be heard by others inside the line.

Yet is this really worthwhile?

  • From a brand marketing point of view, not yet. Mass adoption hasn’t begun.
  • From a direct marketing point of view – not at all, there’s no way of finding and contacting people except by hoping they’ll show up to your next room event.
  • From a personal branding and ‘influencer’ content creation point of view – yes some people are punting their expertise – but are they finding the right followers? Who knows.

I do not like marketing that depends mainly on winning a personal popularity contest. It is not replicable or repeatable.

Marketing done well

The best marketing is done direct to people who have the possibility of becoming customers. Going niche not going broad involves finding the right audience not the largest audience, sharing resonant messages not undifferentiated spray-and-pray, where customers appreciate that helpful insights and advice gives a better return on investment.

For now, I’m not recommending you spend too much time on Clubhouse – but I do suggest getting on the blower – you never know what you’ll find out with some open questioning of your clients and prospects.

Clubhouse room

Get notified of the room going live & follow the moderators

 

As ever, marketers are early into the new gig and some set some pretty onerous conditions for joining. And the coders have set up some simple ‘gamification’ tools to enable the fame game of popularity to grow your group.

Clubhouse join a group screenshot Clubhouse room rules

The Clubhouse app is still in development – it’s not yet available for Android users (70% of all smartphones) and there are clear missing tools like the ability to search for a group or a user using key words or the ability to “produce” content, record or stream media into the group. It’s early days.

Ask me if you’d like an invitation… I’ve got six.

5 Things to Consider When Reaching Out to Bloggers

Bloggers are continuously being sought after because of the relationships they have with readers. When you are going to reach out to a blogger to make a connection, there are things that you should do and things that you should avoid. As you learn more about blogger outreach, you can work to improve your authority in the search engines.

You Need Bloggers to Boost Your SEO

You’re already ahead of the game if you know that you’re in need of SEO help. Search engine optimization isn’t just about doing some keyword research. You need the bloggers to help you with your visibility. When there are more backlinks from authoritative websites and blogs pointing to your own site, it can help you immensely.

Bloggers know that they can help you. However, it’s not their job. This means that you need to ensure that you don’t come across too needy. Before you reach out to bloggers, be sure that the rest of your SEO game is in check.

Not All Bloggers Have a Good Reputation

Bloggers are not always nice. They know they have a good blog. They’ll try to get you to bend over backward – and it may not be the best relationship to have.

Some bloggers inflate their audience numbers. Some bloggers will want to charge. Some bloggers may even refuse to communicate with you.

By doing a bit of digging, you can find out what kind of reputation a blogger has before you even try to reach out to them.

The Blog Audience Matters

It’s important to do some blog research. You need to make sure that the audience of the blog meshes with your business. If you have a similar target audience, it’s going to make it easier for you to show the blogger that there’s a connection. If you’re focusing solely on the number of readers of that blog, you’re bound to fall short.

Show What You Have to Offer

There are all sorts of things that you can offer to a blogger to show that you can help them.

Offer to write a blog to share in their blog. Run a contest for their readers. Provide something that they may not be able to get from just anywhere else. Make it unique.

You cannot simply ask for something without offering something in return. Bloggers aren’t looking for charity cases. If you want to get your link shared on blogs, you need to establish a partnership. Present your offer within your first effort to reach out to the blogger so that they know that you’re not looking for a handout.

Make Genuine Connections

Most bloggers already know their worth. They get contacted all the time for purposes of SEO. This means that you have to make genuine connections. Focus on following the blogs and the bloggers for a while. Connect with them on social media. Like a few of their blogs. Share a blog post on your own social media account.

After you’ve followed them for a while, make a connection. Reach out to them by email or even by tagging them in a post. Try to get a natural conversation started. Then, only after you feel as though you know the blogger, reach out to them. Talk to them more about who you are and why you think it would be great for the two of you to work together.

Ultimately, when you reach out to bloggers, make it personal. Think about what you’re going to say so that it’s not coming out as a cry for help. Remember, too, that if the idea of reaching out to bloggers makes you sick to your stomach, you can learn more by using a blogger outreach service.

How To Create A Powerful Phone Call Strategy

How To Create A Powerful Phone Call Strategy

Phone calls are among the communication channel that businesses use to connect with their customers, business partners, vendors, and prospects. More often, phones are used to make outbound calls with a view of generating leads for the business. Call agents make calls to promising leads to encourage them to purchase an item or subscribe to a service.

Some of the other reasons why businesses make outbound calls are: to boost brand awareness, check-in with customers, follow-up on recent purchases, or set appoints.

Call Strategy

Businesses also use outbound calls to verify accounts, or support customers to achieve their goal through a product or a service they bought. Outbound calls also come in handy when businesses want to remind customers of upcoming renewals and payments or when they need to gather feedback on how customers are experiencing their products or services.

But not all outbound calls yield positive results. However, businesses can enhance the effectiveness of phone outbound calls to generate more sales by developing a strategy. If you are looking to improve your outbound calls, below are some useful tips on how to create a powerful phone call strategy for your business:

1. Set Clear Phone Call Goals

A good phone call strategy starts by setting clear goals. The goals must be realistic. To ensure that you set reasonable goals for your sales or call center agents, involve them in the process. Consider breaking the goals into milestones to facilitate easy monitoring. Essentially, your outbound call goals should be aligned with what you want to achieve through the call center.

For instance, if you want outbound calls to be used for lead generation or customer survey, then set goals that are in line with this purpose. You can always modify your goals and milestones as the business grows or as new factors emerge. Share your goals and milestones with your sales or call center teams. Ensure that they understand and know how to achieve them. This will enable you to see how their individual efforts contribute to those goals and enhance their focus on the job.

2. Identify Clear Phone Call KPIs

After setting clear goals for your call center, you need to identify key performance indicators to enable you to measure the performance of your sales agents or call center representatives. Using a powerful phone system and a platform like Call Cowboy allows you to easily see and customize performance reports, so you know where it’s necessary to make adjustments.

When identifying the indicators, ensure they’re relevant to your goals. For instance, if your goal is to increase sales through the call center, consider using a key performance indicator like sales conversion rate and average handle time. The conversion rate enables you to track the number of sales made in relation to the number of phone calls made. If the conversion rate is low, it could mean that your sales agents are not selling much and that your phone call strategy needs to be reviewed or improved.

On the other hand, the average handle time enables you to keep tabs on the duration of phone calls in relation to the number of calls made. If your sales or call center agents are spending too much time on a single call, it can be an indicator of inadequate product knowledge, poor persuasion skills, or challenges in closing deals.

3. Establish A Criterion For Generating Call Lists

When you decide to make phone calls part of your communication channel, you need to determine how you’re going to reach your target audience. Without targeting the right audience or demographic, outbound calls will not have an impact on your business in terms of generating quality leads and increasing sales. The best way to create a powerful phone call strategy is to develop a criterion for creating an ideal call list.

To do this, work with the sales and marketing team to understand the profiles of the ideal customers that your business targets with its products. Better still, undertake market research to determine the kind of target your business serves. Once you are clear on the kind of target audience you need to focus on, create a call list that your call center agent can use to generate leads and sales.

4. Decide On Outbound Calling Tools

One of the most important aspects of a phone call strategy is deciding which outbound calling tools you’ll use in your business. If you’re targeting local and international customers, getting predictive dialer software is a great way to get started. This will make it easier for your sales or call center agents to place calls right from their computers and quickly take critical call notes.

Customer relationship management (CRM) is another good investment to make. With such software, identifying hot leads and personalizing outbound calls will become much easier for sales and call agents.

You should also consider getting a customizable caller ID to enhance your success rate. With this tool, call agents will be able to reach international clients while displaying local area codes as opposed to international ones. These increases call response rates since the likelihood of people picking local or recognizable numbers is higher compared to those that are random or unknown to them. With these tools, businesses can automate processes and ease the processes of making phone calls and closing deals much faster.

5. Craft A Plan For Call Agent Training

Besides picking a calling software, develop a plan for training your sales and call center teams to enable them to use the software and make outbound phone calls correctly and more effectively. A training plan is necessary because you’ll need to train them and re-train them to enable them to internalize and adopt best practices for outbound calls. Besides knowing how the outbound call software works, there are several other things that your sales or call center agents need to know.

For starters, they need to learn how to hook prospects or customers with a great introduction. Remember that in cold calling, they have a very limited time to connect with a target. If they’re unable to hook the recipient within seconds, they’ll lose the person. This makes introduction an important aspect of call agent training. Ideally, the agents should avoid starting outbound calls with a long description of who they are and the product they’re selling. Instead, they should state a short blurb capturing who they are, then draw the customer or prospect into the conversation. This way, they’re able to engage them better.

The other critical aspect of a call or sales agent training is about asking the right questions. Let’s face it—nobody wants to be lectured on a call. To engage customers or prospects meaningfully, call agents should perfect the art of asking the right questions. Besides training them, you’ll need to invest time in listening to live or recorded calls that your team makes. Review the calls with them, identify ineffective strategies, and give them advice on how to improve. Providing continuous support and training will play a critical role in helping your teams achieve their outbound call goals.

6. Build Synergy With The Marketing Team

A powerful phone call strategy must include clear ways of how the sales or call agents will work with the marketing team. In most businesses, it is the marketing team that has the deepest understanding of the target audience and ideas on how best to sell to them. Even though the sales and call center teams may be aware of the target audience, building synergy between them and the marketing teams will add value to any outbound call efforts, they undertake. For instance, the marketing team will help sales teams or call agents with insights on the best way to appeal to prospects based on their buying or intent behavior.

7. Engagement With Prospects

To convert prospects into customers successfully, call agents and sales reps should learn how to engage them. As such, a powerful phone call strategy should include information or ideas on how call center agents can do this effectively as opposed to dominating the conversation with sales pitches.

Engagement is a key aspect of outbound calls because it helps in capturing the attention of customers or prospects. Sales and call center agents should be able to listen to prospects and pay attention to their concerns, needs, and issues then adapt their pitches in a way that positions their offerings as a solution to those issues. This allows them to customize each phone call to the needs of the prospect and make the products or services that the business offers relevant to the target audience.

8. Honor Phone Call Commitments

When you’re using outbound calls to connect with customers, prospects, vendors, or business partners, you’ll find yourself scheduling calls every now and then. A powerful phone call strategy should include a mechanism for honoring commitments that sales teams or call center agents make with the target audience.

Though it might sound obvious, quite a large number of sales reps who use outbound calls to generate leads to neglect the commitments they make to follow them up, even when their initial phone conversation appeared promising.

Having a phone call strategy ensures that sales and call agents don’t miss out on such opportunities due to disorganization by ensuring that they honor the follow-up commitments. One way to do this is to use customer relationship management to organize their notes and follow prospects up on the day and time promised.

9. Monitor Outbound Calls Outcomes

Monitoring progress is an important aspect of any phone call strategy. You’ll need to monitor the results of sales calls to determine whether you’re achieving your goals or not. To do this, you’ll need to review the responses from the calls and check the performance of individual sales or call agents. The best way to track progress is by using the key performance indicators developed earlier.

An important part of monitoring phone calls is identifying what is working well and what isn’t. This will enable you to amplify the aspects that work well and improve those that don’t. In tracking phone call outcomes, you’ll also need to analyze your costs against the revenue generated to determine the return on investment.

10. Determine The Best Time To Make Phone Calls

As you create a phone call strategy, you’ll need to determine what would be the best time for sales teams or call agents to place outbound calls to customers. Since you’ll be using calls to reach out to prospects or customers either to follow-up on a previous communication, marketing information, or even inform them of an impending payment, timing is critical.

Consider placing business calls with prospects at a time when they’re not too occupied—like in the middle of the week. In terms of time, your teams are better off calling at mid-morning or mid-afternoon as opposed to early morning or evening when they’re occupied with work schedules or commutes.

11. Review Phone Call Interactions

An important aspect of a powerful phone call strategy is reviewing phone interactions. This not only enables you to know what your audience prefers and understand their behavior, but it also gives you a chance to monitor how your employees interact with customers. You can make phone call reviews easier by using call recording software. Reviewing phone call interactions is a great way of gathering valuable insights on different aspects of the services or products that your business offers. With this information, you can find ways to improve your offerings and enhance your customer support.

Final Thoughts

Creating a phone call strategy for your business is the first step towards ensuring that your call center contributes meaningfully to your bottom line. Depending on what your goal for outbound calls is, a phone call strategy enables you to align your sales and call center teams to work towards that goal by training them, monitoring progress, providing the necessary phone call software among others. When implemented correctly, a phone call strategy will not only enable your target audience to understand your brand, it will also boost conversation rates, increase your sales revenues and grow your business to higher heights.

NZ Ministerial briefings

Marketing and politics

Anyone who is updating their marketing plan or business plan knows that there’s a section that includes strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. And within this section is the PEST acronym for political, economic, social and technology – all areas to consider where changes may come from that affect your business.

How to assess politics for marketing?

Unless you are super into politics, most of us are not aware of the plans of the civil service and the government of the day. Some things hit the news, but most of the work goes on without too much hitting our consciousness.

So you write the Political part based on general knowledge and guesswork. And it’s not good.

No more, here’s a great way to find out what is coming up that will affect your business planning.

Briefings to Incoming Ministers

The New Zealand civil service writes a briefing for all the new ministers after a general election. This document is later published so we, the electorate, can see what they are planning. The BIMs are now all published for the current Ardern government.

Take a read of the briefings most relevant to your area of business – from the Finance Minister, to Revenue, Small Business, Tourism, Callaghan and the Digital Economy Communications – I found these fascinating.

Not all the briefing is public – there are redacted parts which are sensitive (some relate to jobs, others to matters like likely tax changes).

Here’s the link to all the briefings – BIMS Finance and Economy

Happy reading!

What to Look for in an Online MBA Programs

Every year, a little over 135,000 prospective students apply for MBA programs across the United States. MBA programs are a popular option for those who desire to work in a variety of business fields. As the next group of applicants prepares to begin their journey, it is important to answer one question: which MBA program is right for me? The program you select shapes your professional influences and network. Luckily, since there are a vast number of options, applicants will find a program that best suits their personal and professional interests.

In the COVID-19 world, it is important to investigate strong online programs since you will unlikely be spending much time in the classroom. The following guide is a helpful tool to learn more about finding the best online MBA program. The contained information can help you determine whether the requirements of business school will help you achieve your academic and career goals.

Considerations for Choosing an MBA Program

Deciding to pursue an MBA is a major decision but applicants have additional aspects that must be considered before starting the application process. Before making a concrete decision, create a plan that suits your skills, career goals, and academic talents. The following considerations will help you craft this plan in more detail:

Alumni Network

The strength of alumni networks impacts the school’s perception and reputation, as well as the success of graduates. Questions to ask when reviewing the alumni network include:

  • Do alums participate in local events?
  • How engaged are the alumni?
  • What are the alumni doing now?
  • What is the size of the network?

Career Services

In addition to providing top educational opportunities and teaching students the skills to become the next business leaders, one of the most important services a school can offer is assisting graduates with jumpstarting their careers. Most MBA programs have a career services department to support all new graduates with career opportunities.

Concentrations

Most MBA’s have concentrations in marketing, finance, human resources, international business, etc. which can help you further tailor your career business interests.

Cost

Cost is probably the most important factor for those considering an MBA. You must find a balance between potential salary and cost when selecting a school. With MBA’s notoriously being a costly degree, you want to find a school you can afford. Average tuition costs for an online MBA can range from $11,000 for a public graduate school to $25,000 for a private graduate school per year. More reputable programs run even higher.

Curriculum

Most programs require students to complete between 55 and 65 credits with around one-third focusing on core topics. Core classes are consistent across all business schools and include a curriculum consisting of financial accounting, managerial statistics, operations, management, business analytics, and the global economic environment.

Location

When considering the location of prospective schools, students must determine whether they wish to work in the same city post-graduation. Networking is a critical aspect of the MBA experience and that hard work can be wasted if you move away.

Reputation

Paying attention to a program’s reputation is critical since those MBA’s with respected professors and renowned alumni will attract attention. Also, the business community knows which schools function as talent pipelines. Rankings give hiring panels and recruiters a sense of how the school prepares graduates for employment. 

In your search for the best online MBA program, still consider top schools but focus on any appealing school. Try to learn about the programs you have never heard of since your dream MBA could be at a location you never expected. Use the above considerations during your review to find the best options to meet your personal and career requirements.

container ship

Where did All the Freight Containers Go?

The freight shipping world continues to go through its gyrations and disruptions that started with heavy impacts in Spring 2020. Now, in the latest chapter of issues, the cost of freight shipping out of China to overseas destinations has skyrocketed. Combined with a systemic shortage of containers internationally, the price tag on moving a container went from $2,000 at the end of 2019 to a whopping $9,000 per unit. But the demand is not being driven by price-gouging on the service side. It’s a far simpler matter of not having enough containers to move goods with. As a result, inventory that needs to be shipped to meet orders is piling up at the docks because there isn’t enough equipment ready to stock, store and load with.

And locally here in New Zealand the Ports of Auckland have suffered “swamping”

a perfect storm of interconnected disrupting circumstances has caused significant congestion and delays at New Zealand’s ports.

How Freight Containers Move and Why 2020 Was Different

Mechanically, shipping containers have to move in a circular pattern year-round. As goods move out of Asia, the shipping container used to move them relocates to the U.S. or Europe as the destination point. As the cargo boats move back to Asia to pick up more goods again, they either carry inventory headed back to Asia or they move empty units, but the returning container stock replenishes the numbers for new, outgoing orders. However, when 2020 hit with the pandemic lockdowns, the circular pattern and frequency of international container replenishment were disrupted. Instead, thousands of large size containers sat in dock areas at their original destination points without moving back to China and similar. When overseas trade started to pick up again going into the fall, there were few containers to work with and no new ones built fast enough to fill in the gap.

The congestion building up at ports waiting for equipment to ship adds to the problem, triggering more and more delays of freight shipping internationally. And, where companies and clients want their items to move faster, they end up having to pay a premium for that benefit versus waiting with everyone else. Those costs add up and have ultimately contributed to overall container shipping fees jumping 400 to 500 percent in 2020.

Fundamental Changes in the Freight Business are Pending

Eventually, the supply of containers will even out again as shipping picks up, particularly now that a COVID vaccine is starting to make its way through societies and reducing the need for ongoing lockdowns. However, that transition back to normality will probably take another year, and shipping logistics in the meantime are going to be hampered on the international level.

Companies have not been sitting idly by. Many of the big inventory movers and freight shipping services have been investing their capital into increased logistical centre resources on the domestic side so they have the additional stock and resilience to handle supply-side shocks as occurred in Spring 2020. It’s been made clear to everyone that, while freight shipping has come a long way in the past decades, it is still very vulnerable to demand spikes, and improvements in container logistics are still sorely needed.

Digital marketing 2021

The Bigger Picture of Digital Marketing in 2021

I have a good website and products.  My social media marketing is not resulting in sales.  Do I need a media expert?

Analyse past sales patterns

My view is that whether your social media drives sales or not depends on your industry and your target audience.

For the vast majority of businesses, social media does not result in direct sales. This is because customers are not in “buying mode” when browsing social sites.

And so here’s a quick check which you can do – share it here as well if you want more feedback.

  1. List all the sales you made in the past month(s)
  2. Rank them by value highest $ down to lowest
  3. For the top 20% by value, write down against each one how the customer came to buy from you
  4. Is there a pattern?

So for example in (3) above – you might say they came from your mailing list, they might be a previous customer, word of mouth recommendation, or walked into your shop or know a staff member.

It may pay to do some follow up calls if you can – or to ask every January 2021 customer how they found out about you and see if the pattern develops in the same way.

Know your customers

From this, you will begin to learn more about your existing customer base. What their patterns of behaviour are and how your business gets its sales.

Now, if you think this type of customer ALSO uses social and might be persuaded to buy from you via that channel, this is the time to review your marketing strategy and see if social media could bring you sales.

The Bigger Picture of Digital Marketing in 2021

Three things for you to check first

The vast majority of social “sales” come from paid advertising or retail shop listings on social sites. So you need to review your margins and your advertising budget for 2021 in your marketing strategy before deciding to launch into social media marketing in a big way. Can you afford to both hire a social media marketing expert and buy advertising on social? Or would your money be better spent on the channels you already have which bring in customers from your analysis in the steps 1-4 above.

Content marketing is more than just “social media”. The things you are posting on your social channels could also be put to use in newsletters, website blogs and in-store. So don’t only talk about social media – go broader to review whether content marketing is right for your business.

Consult experts to get yourself quickly up the learning curve. BUT be cautious about hiring people who have worked in big enterprise firms – a client of mine got badly burned using an expert who just spent a lot of money with only $800 return for their multi-month investment in their services. Yes they did take up references – and you should too. Become an expert in how to brief a marketing agency first – this will clarify what they do and set expectations. Below are links to articles which you should read first.

https://creativeagencysecrets.com/tag/how-to-brief-a-freelancer/

cyber security, masked hacker

The Cyber Security Job Gap

Concern continues to mount over the shortage of skilled cyber security experts. Companies across the globe, regardless of industry, are unable to source the talent they need to build defences against threats that are increasing in sophistication and volume. There is a disproportionate rise in threat levels and not enough people entering the workforce to address IT concerns, creating a cyber security job gap that seems to have no end in immediate sight. This also applies to marketers – how may martech experts also have cyber security credentials? Not many I’d guess.

A Hard Look at the Numbers

The Information Systems Security Association conducted a survey of cyber security professionals and came to the conclusion that as many as 70% of those questioned believed their organisation has felt the effects of the skill shortage. Close to 45% of respondents believe that the gap has increased in recent years. A marginal 7% believe things are improving. However, another survey estimated that around 4 million trained IT professionals would be needed to close the gap. This many jobs would increase the cyber security workforce by 62% within the USA alone.

A Look at Training Needs

If you haven’t settled on a career field, or you are looking to change to something that offers more job security, you should explore cyber security careers for a number of promising options. Though there are many aspects of security you can focus on, you will need to enrol in cyber training courses and earn your certification in areas of interest in order to get your foot in the door. If you have already been working in IT but haven’t been able to advance past an entry-level position, becoming familiar with the cyber security framework and threats is a great starting place. You can use advanced training courses to help you stand out from others in the field.

High quality training courses are the first step in bridging the cyber security gap, and there are plenty of ways to access this education. College programs, online organisations, and workplace retraining are just a few ways individuals can move into IT security. However, there is some concern that there is little room for real-world application in these programs, making continuing education (while in the field and on the job) another priority. Dark web threats and cybercriminals are evolving as rapidly as the technology they use, increasing the need for up-to-date training at all levels of IT involvement.

A Look at Factors Impacting the Gap

The cyber security landscape is constantly changing, and with those changes comes a critical need to continually assess talent and educate those entering the profession. Surveys of current cyber security professionals indicate there are several factors contributing to the skill gap. These include:

•        IT workers don’t have a specific career path

•        Lack of access to basic cyber security certifications

•        Inability to find a mentor or rely on peer support

•        Difficulty landing a cyber security internship

A majority of IT workers started their careers handling more basic security functions and IT roles, yet as the threats rose and companies were left exposed, many of these individuals were thrown into more advanced roles without proper training. Other professionals thought of moving into cyber security for the career potential, yet they didn’t spend the time systematically developing their skills. Proficiency, when learning on the fly, can take years. This on its own becomes a major security threat. Formal training reduces this liability.

Another factor is business executives’ lack of awareness of the importance of information security. Without a top-down approach to education and instruction, cyber specialists within the company may be trying to handle both operations and the instruction of their peers. This scattered response leaves too many areas unaddressed, and those who could succeed in a cyber security role may never get the opportunity to learn. Organisational priority toward cyber threats and security should make training a priority both for those coming into the company and those already established in their positions.

A Look at Your Future

As an IT professional or someone looking to make a career in the IT security field, you don’t need to wait on a company to send you to school or walk you through their cyber defence program. Your career advancement is your responsibility, and you can give yourself a better reputation over the competition when you enrol in cyber certification courses on your own. Look for programs that emphasise practical, hands-on learning.

Your education will increase your hiring potential and help bridge the gap in cyber security jobs.