Cybersecurity is a rapidly growing field in which there are plenty of jobs to be had. Trained and qualified cybersecurity professionals are in high demand, and starting salaries average at about $116,000. In order to get one of these desirable positions, though, you’ll need more than just a degree.
If you plan to go into the cybersecurity field, you can expect potential employers to run a background check before any offer of a position is finalized. This is especially true if you want to work for the government. When you go to grad school online to earn your MS in Cybersecurity, you’ll learn why it’s so important for employers to be able to trust you as a law-abiding employee of good character and stable background.
What does a background check entail? It involves delving into your criminal history, but can also involve credit checks, verification of past employers and other measures designed to certify that you are who you say you are, that you have the education, training and experience you claim and that you’re not a criminal. Here’s what potential employers will look for in your background.
If you have been convicted of or pled guilty to a felony in the past, you’ll probably be automatically disqualified for the position. Unfortunately, many people find that even 10 years or more after a felony conviction, their employment prospects are still slim.
If you’ve been convicted of a serious misdemeanor, especially if it’s been longer than 10 years ago, there’s still a chance you might get the job. Much depends on the exact nature of the misdemeanor. Violent crimes and crimes that reflect a lack of integrity or poor character, like theft, are more likely to hold you back here.
Other past crimes that could hold you back include drug use, especially if you used hard drugs or used drugs habitually. If you’ve been involved with a gang, that’s another black mark on your record; so is a prior domestic violence charge. A bad driving history could also reflect poorly, especially if it involves serious or repeated driving infractions. Any crimes you committed that remained undiscovered by law enforcement could work against you if they come up in a background check.
Any civil lawsuits you’ve been involved in will turn up on your background check. Whether or not they hurt your chances of getting the job depends on the nature of the suit or suits and whether you were a plaintiff or a defendant.
Your potential employer isn’t checking your credit history because he or she wants to loan you money. Your financial activities paint a pretty clear picture of how responsible and stable you are as a person. If you have unpaid collection items and a terrible credit score, your employer may be concerned that your financial instability could leave you vulnerable to corruption. Your employer also wants to make sure that the salary you’re offered will be enough for you to meet your obligations to creditors. Credit items more than seven years old won’t appear on your credit report.
Your potential employer will look up your Social Security records to verify your previous addresses and any name changes you may have made.
With so many recent news stories about people rising to prominence in their fields on the strength of falsified qualifications, employers are more stringent than ever about verifying that the people they hire really do have the qualifications they claim. Your employer will contact your previous schools to verify that you earned your degrees legitimately.
Employment History and References
Don’t worry too much about your old boss who hated you. One bad reference isn’t likely to stop you from getting the job, since it could be a sign that the position wasn’t right for you or your boss really did hate you for no reason. Your potential employer mostly wants to verify your experience, including the positions you’ve held in the past and the dates of your previous employment. If you have a spotty work history or a series of bad references, that’s an issue.
If you want to go into cybersecurity, you’re going to need to pass a background check for most positions. Don’t worry about it too much — assuming you have a clean criminal record, legitimate credentials and a fairly solid employment and credit history, you’ll pass your background check with flying colors.