With cybersecurity top of mind for companies this year, many CTOs are looking to hire specialized talent or bring on new IT contractors to harden their company’s networks. As an Executive Senior Partner focused on IT recruitment, I’ve seen first-hand the growing demand for specialized cybersecurity talent– and the growing difficulties businesses are facing when it comes to filling these roles.

Since cybersecurity is a relatively new and rapidly developing specialty, there are simply fewer individuals who have the right combination of skills and experience. This small talent pool means that most cybersecurity professionals are already well compensated by their current employers and are not actively seeking new opportunities. As a result, companies must work harder to recruit this sought-after talent. Strategies include upping compensation packages, offering larger signing bonuses or trying to woo talent away from the competition with promises of better work-life balance.

Even in such a strong job market, however, IT professionals who emphasize certain skill sets or experience on their resume will be considered more attractive hires and able to command top dollar.

Are you thinking about switching companies this year? Position yourself for success by doing the following:

Understand the market dynamics.
The majority of IT professionals who are qualified for cybersecurity jobs are currently employed, which means many of today’s active job seekers likely do not have the right experience or skill set for specialized cybersecurity work. This is creating an unusual disconnect in the marketplace: companies desperately need to hire specialized talent, but when they do find available talent, hiring managers may (incorrectly) assume the talent is unemployed because it lacks the right skills. Keep this in mind for your job search: if you are actively seeking a new position, it’s essential that you emphasize your skills, certifications, and experience to assuage any qualification concerns.

Highlight the right skills, certifications, experience, and outcomes.
So which skills should you highlight? From my experience, most companies are seeking security professionals with backgrounds in secure software development, cloud security and networking monitoring with the ability to perform vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. Be sure your resume clearly explains how your skills and certifications are relevant to these positions.

Quantify and benchmark your achievements: what projects have you successfully completed to harden network security for your current employer? What success metrics (e.g., reduction in network breaches, fewer malware/ransomware intrusions, etc.) can you highlight? How do the cybersecurity projects you’ve completed for your current employer compare with the industry as a whole?

Understand your local market.
Geographic location can impact the number of available job opportunities and the caliber of talent competing for these openings. Depending on the job market where you’re currently based, a willingness to relocate could land you a more generous compensation package than what companies would typically offer in your home city.

Location can also impact in-demand specialties. Here in Chicago where I’m based, companies are focused on hardening cloud security and IP protections. This is due in part to Chicago’s greater concentration of wireless/telecom providers and the rapid growth of Chicago-based IoT companies. Down in Houston, however, much of the IT job growth is connected with the oil and gas industry, where companies are investing in digital technology to integrate, collaborate and automate processes. Keep these subtle geographic variations in mind while job searching and highlight relevant skill sets– doing so just might just help you land your dream offer.

Do you have questions about the cybersecurity job market? Post your questions in the comments below!