- There are 597,000 open cybersecurity jobs across the country, and most pay over $100,000.
- PayPal’s cybersecurity team is hiring, senior director of security operations Renana Friedlich said.
- A key part to acing the interview at PayPal is asking questions, she said.
When people think about the cybersecurity industry, they probably picture a man in a dark hoodie sitting in front of a computer, says Renana Friedlich, senior director of security operations at PayPal.
Friedlich wants to put a new face on the profession, and it starts with recognizing the true breadth of the field.
“If you think about the different roles within cyber,” Friedlich told Insider, “you can be an architect, you can be a developer, you can be in risk management, you can be in security operations, you can be in offense in security. The umbrella is so broad.”
Seventy-six percent of US cybersecurity workers identify as male, and 78% as white. But there is actually a space for everyone in this growing industry, Friedlich said. There are 597,000 open cybersecurity roles in the United States, and 100 on PayPal’s team. The average pay for these jobs is over $100,000 a year, and some of the highest-paying roles, such as network security architect and chief information security officer, can make closer to $200,000 in some locations.
Friedlich explained to Insider how job seekers can land a position in the growing field and how PayPal’s interview process works.
Nontraditional backgrounds are just as valued
Similar to many interview processes, PayPal has three main steps to its hiring process: a phone screen, a technical interview, and an on-site (which is now conducted virtually).
Friedlich said every candidate should demonstrate two qualities during these three steps: a growth mindset — that is, a desire to learn and get better rather than be the best at something — and the ability to collaborate.
Traditional education and career paths are not a requirement to land a job with PayPal’s cybersecurity team, given its wide variety of roles, Friedlich said.
“I have people on my team that come from customer-service backgrounds and people that come from mathematics and Ph.D. students and people who don’t have degrees at all,” she said. “And they all have a place within our community of cybersecurity professionals.”
Online certification and training programs are effective alternatives to a formal education, Friedlich said. Hack The Box and TryHackMe are two online programs she recommended. In both cases, the content is free, and a premium upgrade is much cheaper than a college degree.
“The amount of knowledge people can get from sites like these two is absolutely valuable and valid,” she said. “And I tell everyone, if you are on these websites and you don’t have a degree or you don’t have an expensive certification, put a link to your profile. Showcase that you have completed training with these websites.”
Be honest and ask questions
PayPal doesn’t expect candidates to know it all.
Friedlich herself wasn’t confident about one of the questions she was asked when she was interviewing with the company. But rather than giving up, she walked the interviewer through her thought process and how she would approach the problem.
“If you don’t know the answer, it’s OK,” she said. “But maybe you can pivot and show how you have the knowledge or how you can think on your feet and pivot to another area.”
Additionally, candidates should take full advantage of the time at the end of each interview to ask questions, Friedlich said, calling it “an opportunity for them to shine.”
“This is the time for candidates to really show interest and show what they are all about,” she said. “I think it’s so important that candidates don’t pass on that opportunity.”
Job seekers should even feel open to adding more about their skills or experience at the end of the interview if they feel as if they missed the chance earlier.
One of Friedlich’s favorite interview questions is: “Is there anything else I should have asked you?”
“I recognize that not everyone feels confident to show up and talk about themselves, their accomplishments,” she said. “And so I really want to give them an opportunity to kind of shine and wrap up the interview, knowing they presented the best version of themselves.”