Tag Archives: career

Welcoming and retaining diversity in cybersecurity

I doubt I’d be in the role I am now if leaders at one of my first jobs hadn’t taken an interest in my career. Although I taught myself to code when I was young, I graduated from college with a degree in English Literature and began my post-college career in editorial. I worked my way up to Assistant Editor at a math and science college textbook publisher located in Boston, Massachusetts. I was responsible for acquisitions and training on the software that that the company distributed with its textbooks. The senior editors sent me to a conference in Florida to train the sales team on how to present the software to professors. This is where I met Jennifer. Jennifer headed up the network and IT support for our California parent company, and because we shared a room at the conference hotel, we got to know each other, and she saw me present. This interaction proved pivotal. When the publisher created a new position to support a network of AS/400s, Jennifer talked me into applying—and yes, she did have to talk me into it! Like a lot of young professionals, I was intimidated to take on such a different role. But I’m so glad she was looking out for me. It was the start of my career in technology, which ultimately led me to Microsoft.

My experience is a great example of how individuals and company culture can influence the trajectory of someone’s career. To celebrate Women in Cybersecurity month, Microsoft is exploring tactics to increase diversity in the tech industry. In the first post in the series, Ann Johnson wrote about mentorship. In this post, I share some ideas for cultivating the diverse talent that already work at your company to build a strong and diverse leadership team.

Retention is as important as recruitment

When we talk about the lack of diversity in tech, much of the conversation focuses around hiring. And it’s true that we need to dramatically increase the number of women, non-binary, and people of color that we recruit. But if we want to create more diverse technology teams, we also need to address the talent drain. Too often smart technologists with nontraditional backgrounds drop out of STEM careers. Studies have shown that up to 52 percent of women leave technology fields. This is nearly double the percentage of men who quit tech. And for those who think it’s because women don’t enjoy technology, 80+ percent of women in STEM say they love their work. The problem often comes down to culture. Which means it’s something we can fix! I’ve worked with and managed many neuro-diverse teams and here’s what I’ve seen work.

People aren’t books

One of the most famous pictures of Einstein shows him with his hair in disarray, sticking his tongue out. If you didn’t know he was one of the greatest thinkers in the world, you might assume he wasn’t the fastest electron in the universe. Or what does it say that many of us didn’t discover Katharine Johnson, another brilliant physicist, until 2017 when the movie “Hidden Figures” was released.

Our collective mental model for what an engineer or scientist is supposed to look and act like doesn’t reflect reality. Some people have purple hair, some like to work in yoga pants, some listen to loud music on headphones all day, or have creative face tattoos. And many are women or LGBTQ or people of color or disabled. People’s race, gender, appearance and work styles have no bearing on whether they are a hard worker or a valuable contributor. We know this, but often we don’t realize we’ve made a judgement based on unconscious biases.

How to address: Don’t judge people by their “covers.” This starts by acknowledging that your biases may not be explicit or intentional, but they still exist. Listen to what people say. Evaluate the work they produce. Observe how they collaborate with others. These are the indicators of the value they bring. And keep in mind that people who’ve been conditioned to believe that technology isn’t for them, may not exhibit the level of confidence you expect. It doesn’t mean they can’t do it. They may just need a little more encouragement (thank you, Jennifer!).

Women often leave jobs because they feel stalled in their careers. In one study, 27 percent of U.S. women said they feel stalled and 32 percent were considering quitting in the next year. For a variety of reasons, unconscious bias results in straight white men getting more opportunities on high profile projects, more ideas greenlit, and faster promotions. As a result, women get discouraged, do not feel supported and look for other opportunities. That is why in the previous blog, we focused on mentorship.

How to address: Be a champion for women and other underrepresented groups in your company. My relationship with Jennifer is a great example of this. She took an interest in my career, identified an opportunity and helped me get to the next rung. Our relationship was informal, but you can also create a structured sponsorship program. The goal is to go beyond mentorship and become an advocate for promising women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups. Use your influence to get them the right projects, the right advice, and the right exposure to help them advance their careers.

Nurture unique thinkers

Back when I was a manager at KPMG, we used to try to hire people who “think outside the box.” But the tricky part about hiring out of the box thinkers is that their ideas are, well, outside the box. Organizations often think they want people to shake things up but in practice many are uncomfortable being challenged. This leads them to quickly shut down bold new ideas. When original thinkers don’t feel valued, they take all that innovation and creativity elsewhere.

How to address: Build a culture of inclusion where everyone has a chance to share. Not every idea is great; in my career I’ve had more than my share of bad ones! But you should listen to and consider all opinions—even if they seem a little off the wall. It doesn’t mean you have to move them all forward, but sometimes an idea that sounds outlandish one day starts to make sense after a good night’s sleep. Or take a page from the women in the Obama administration and amplify ideas that have been overlooked.

Respect the hours

Not everyone can commit to a regular eight in the morning to six in the evening work week. Many people care for children, sick spouses, and elderly parents—being a caretaker is a skill in and of itself! In fact, this quality of being a caretaker is something that in most technology roles can be a valued asset. In addition to being a caretaker, others can’t work “regular” weeks because they’re finishing degrees or have other time challenges and commitments.

Varied approaches to time also apply to project milestones. People deal with deadlines differently—some get stressed if the deadline is too close (like me!) and do their work in advance, others need that adrenaline pump and wait until (almost) the last minute to deliver.

How to address: Institute and support flexible work hours, job sharing (two people share the same job, both doing it half-time), or three weeks on/one week off work schedules that enable people to contribute without requiring them to keep the same hours as everyone else. Trust that people can be productive even if they don’t work the same way or at the same time as your typical employee.

To build a diverse, experienced team of leaders, you need an environment that supports and accepts differences of all kinds. Don’t let bias about gender, appearance, or the hours someone can work get in the way of nurturing all those great hires into the next generation of great leaders. Our senior director for our cybersecurity operations team, Kristina, looks for diversity as this helps with managing the diversity of threats. Listen to her thoughts on diversity in our CISO Spotlight Episode 7.

What’s next

For those interested in how to find more diverse talent, next week Theresa Payton will share ideas from her experience recruiting girls, women, and other people with differing backgrounds into technology.

In the meantime, bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity. To learn more about our Security solutions visit our website. Or reach out to me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

AI, blockchain top healthcare CIO’s list of emerging tech

Geoffrey Brown was sure finance was where his career was headed, until his mother-in-law became ill. That’s when he witnessed firsthand the “support and compassion” with which she was handled by the healthcare industry.

Brown, who had an IT career in banking, started volunteering with the same hospice program that helped his mother-in-law, until his involvement grew and he was eventually offered the position of healthcare CIO at Georgia Baptist, now Tenet Healthcare. Thirty-five years later, Brown is now CIO at Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta where he said he plays an increasingly strategic role. That includes keeping an eye on technologies he thinks will have a significant impact on healthcare, specifically artificial intelligence and blockchain. 

In this Q&A, Brown discusses how the healthcare CIO role has changed from an organization’s technical expert to leader of strategic initiatives, as well as what he thinks the CIO role will look like in the future.

How did you get your start in health IT?

Geoffrey Brown: I was already in the banking, finance industry, and that’s where I thought I wanted to go. But my mother-in-law, who was a nurse, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was a young husband, and my wife and I made a decision to do home hospice care, and that whole experience with the visiting nurse and the doctors that came and the network of clinicians that supported her was something new to me. I had never been around that kind of support and compassion and it affected me. After she passed away, I decided to become a hospice volunteer.

In the financial industry, we had access to all types of technology. I was a programmer, so I automated some of my reporting back then. The director of the hospice program asked if I could do some of that work for the hospice program and that was my entry point. Back then you had to write programs; you couldn’t buy these systems off the shelf.

How has the role of healthcare CIO changed?

Brown: In the early days, you were probably the most knowledgeable person in your organization around any form of technology. How you were promoted back then and the way you rose up was by being someone who was capable of understanding the technology and working with engineers and the programming, network-type staff, yet able to translate information to the business teams and the operational staff in an effective manner. Fast forward a few years, and as technology became more intertwined with healthcare, the role shifted from being tactical to strategic. Now, you’re in a more visionary, strategic, planning role and you have to be able to put teams together to execute on those visions, strategies and plans.

What challenges do healthcare CIOs face today?

Brown: There are three different areas that jump out to me. One is we’ve got to do things that ensure productivity, that we are bringing the right technologies into play to drive our services and provide consistency with how we formulate things — from our clinical workflow processes, so that we have standardized processes that are repeatable, all the way through our revenue cycle for billing and collection. You have to stay current and make sure you’re providing the latest access to systems and technologies for staff to be efficient in the work that they do.

The second area is around external threats. You hear people say cybersecurity, but I use the general term of security and protection of your digital assets. That’s a big part of what we have to stay conversant with. We have to make sure we’re following all of the right best practices and also getting ahead of that curve.

The third area is around the strategy component of it. You may hear terms like blockchain, AI and the ways those things are connecting and providing more efficient ways to manage care, to interact with the public, etcetera. We need to take a look at where we are, spend a fair amount of time in that space, and make sure we’re positioned to empower our staff to be the best they can be around those types of things.

What technologies and trends do you put stock into? What are you keeping an eye on?

Brown: We spent a fair amount of time in previous years building up our data analytics and reporting capabilities. I think we are doing very well in that space, and we’re starting to probe into predictive analytics. The analytics can only take you so far, and that’s where the artificial intelligence kicks in. We are less mature in artificial intelligence, but the application for it is huge and that’s where we’re placing some future bets. Also in our call centers, AI has become so good in some areas … around routine types of things.

We are less mature in artificial intelligence, but the application for it is huge and that’s where we’re placing some future bets.
Geoffrey BrownCIO, Piedmont Healthcare

With blockchain, there have not been great applications for it in healthcare. But I predict there will be and it will certainly be around security … because of its ability to identify various elements, resources, definitions of use scenarios, which will allow you to match up people and data in ways that are more secure than current methodologies.

The third area, that quite frankly will always be there, are infrastructures associated with our cyber challenges.

What project have you led at Piedmont as healthcare CIO that you consider impactful?

Brown: During the five years I’ve been here, we’ve doubled the size of our organization through mergers and acquisitions. Part of that process required us to integrate those organizations into the Piedmont systems — such as human resources systems, procurement and supply systems, financial systems, our electronic health record — so we could make sure if a patient came into Piedmont that, as rapidly as possible, their information would be known throughout our system statewide. Our health system is spread out across the state, so it was critical from a strategic perspective to make sure we had [consistent] policies and practices, which talk about providing care depending on the condition a patient presents with and to make those things happen as quickly as possible. We’ve been able to successfully integrate the technology — and, I think most importantly, the cultures — in a very successful manner.

Where is the role of the healthcare CIO headed?

Brown: I find myself more and more at the front end of thinking about how do we grow the business, how do we get waste out of the business, and operations, how do we enable our markets in more effective ways. I do see it becoming more and more intertwined with the business of the organization. I see us moving deeper into spots around analytics, predictive modeling and those types of things so that we can manage our resources, anticipate patient needs more than we can today, and support our physicians around decision-making using data as a driver. I see the strategic piece becoming more and more important as time goes on.

Editor’s note: Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

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Learn how to get started with your networking career

As the networking industry rapidly changes, so could your networking career. Maybe you’re just starting out, or you want to take your career to the next level. Or maybe you want to hit the reset button and start over in your career. Regardless of experience, knowledge and career trajectory, everybody can use advice along the way.

Network engineer role requirements vary depending on a candidate’s experience, education and certifications, but one requirement is constant: Network engineers should have the skills to build, implement and maintain a computer network that supports an organization’s required services.

This compilation of expert advice brings together helpful insights for network engineers at any point in their networking careers in any area of networking. It includes information about telecommunications and Wi-Fi careers and discusses how 5G may affect job responsibilities.

The following expert advice can help budding, transforming and still-learning network engineers in their networking career paths.

What roles are included in a network engineer job description?

Network engineers have a variety of responsibilities that fall within multiple categories and require varying skills. All potential network engineers, however, should have a general understanding of the multiple layers of network communication protocols, like IP and TCP. Engineers that know how these protocols work can better develop fundamental networking wisdom, according to Terry Slattery, principal architect at NetCraftsmen.

The role of a network engineer is complex, which is why it’s often divided into subcategories. Potential responsibilities include the following:

Each of these paths has different responsibilities, requirements and training. For most networking careers, certifications and job experience are comparable to advanced degrees, Slattery said. Engineers should renew their certifications every few years to ensure they maintain updated industry knowledge, he added. As of mid-2019, network engineer salaries ranged from $60,000 to $180,000 a year. However, these salaries vary by location, market, experience and certifications of the candidate.

Learn more about network engineer job requirements.

What steps should I take to improve my networking career path?

As the networking industry transforms, network engineers eager to advance their networking careers have to keep up. One way to ensure engineers maintain relevant networking skills is for those engineers to get and retain essential certifications, said Amy Larsen DeCarlo, principal analyst at Current Analysis. The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification, in particular, provides foundational knowledge about how to build and maintain network infrastructures.

Network engineers should renew their certifications every few years, which requires a test to complete the renewal. Certifications don’t replace experience, DeCarlo said, but they assure employers that candidates have the essential, basic networking knowledge. Continuing education or specializing in a certain expertise area can also help engineers advance their networking careers, as can a maintained awareness of emerging technologies, such as cloud services.

Read more about how to advance your networking career.

network engineer skills
Learn more about the various paths you can take in your networking career.

What are the top telecom certifications?

Different types of certifications can benefit different aspects of networking. For a telecom networking career, the three main certification categories are vendor-based, technology-based or role-based, said Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp. Vendor-based certifications are valuable for candidates that mostly use equipment from a single vendor. However, these certifications can be time-consuming and typically require prior training or experience.

Technology-based certifications usually encompass different categories of devices, such as wireless or security services. These include certifications from the International Association for Radio, Telecommunications and Electromagnetics and the Telecommunications Certification Organization. These certifications are best for entry-level engineers or those who want to specialize in a specific area of networking. They are also equivalent to an advanced degree, Nolle said.

Role-based certifications are more general and ideal for candidates without degrees or those who want a field technician job. Certifications can make candidates more attractive to employers, as these credentials prove the candidate has the skills and experience the employer requires. One example of this type of certification is the NCTI Master Technician, which specializes in field and craft work for the cable industry.

Dive deeper into the specifics of telecom certifications.

Why should I stay up to date with Wi-Fi training?

One of the most complicated areas of networking is wireless LAN (WLAN) — Wi-Fi, in particular. Yet, Wi-Fi is essential in today’s networking environment. Like other networking career paths, WLAN engineers should refresh their Wi-Fi training every so often to remain credible, according to network engineer Lee Badman.

The history of Wi-Fi has been complicated, and the future can be daunting. But Wi-Fi training is a helpful way to understand common issues. In the past, many issues stemmed from the lack of an identical, holistic understanding of Wi-Fi among organizations and network teams, Badman said. Without a consistent Wi-Fi education plan, Wi-Fi training was a point of both success and failure.

While some training inconsistencies still linger now, Badman recommended the Certified Wireless Specialist course from Certified Wireless Network Professionals as a starting point for those interested in WLANs. A variety of vendor-agnostic courses are also available for other wireless roles, he said.

Discover more about Wi-Fi training in networking careers.

Will 5G networks require new network engineer skills?

Mobile network generations seem to change as rapidly as Wi-Fi does, causing many professionals to wonder what 5G will mean for networking careers in the future. In data centers, job requirements won’t change much, according to John Fruehe, an independent analyst. But 5G could launch a new era for cloud-based and mobile applications and drive security changes as well.

Network engineers should watch out for gaps in network security due to this new combination of enterprise networks, cloud services and 5G, Fruehe said. However, employees working in carrier networks may already see changes in how their organizations construct and provision communication services as a result of current 5G deployments. For example, 5G may require engineers to adhere to a new, fine-grained programmability to manage the increased volume of services organizations plan to run on 5G.

Networking areas where network engineer skills will be crucial are software-defined networking, software-defined radio access networks, network functions virtualization, automation and orchestration. This transformation is because manual command-line interfaces will no longer suffice when engineers program devices, as virtualization and automation are better suited to program devices.

Explore more about 5G’s potential effect on networking careers.

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Diversity and cybercrime: Solving puzzles and stopping bad guys – Asia News Center

Diana Kelley bristles at suggestions that cybersecurity is a dry or dull career choice – after all, she’s dedicated most of her working life to protecting data and blocking digital wrongdoers.

“I think it is the most interesting part of IT. It can be a fascinating puzzle to solve. It can be like a murder mystery on that show, ‘Law & Order,’ except that when they find a dead body, we find a network breach,” she says.

“As we investigate, we go back through all these twists and turns. And, sometimes we discover that the real culprit isn’t the one we had suspected at the beginning.”

As Microsoft’s global Cybersecurity Field Chief Technology Officer, she wants to erase misconceptions that might be stopping people from more walks of life from entering her profession – which, she argues,  needs new ways of thinking and innovating.

Successful companies know that by building diversity and inclusion within their ranks, they can better understand and serve their many and varied customers. Cybersecurity teams need to read from the same playbook so they can better anticipate and block attacks launched by all kinds of people from all sorts of places.

“Cybercriminals come from different backgrounds and geo-locations and have different mindsets,” Kelley says. “They collaborate and use very diverse attack techniques to come after individuals, companies, and countries. So, it helps us also to have a very diverse set of protection and controls to stop them.”

Knowing how attackers might think and act can be difficult for any cybersecurity team, particularly if it is made up of people from similar backgrounds with similar viewpoints. It is the kind of conformity that can even lead to a sort of “groupthink,” which results in blind spots and unintended bias.

The power of different viewpoints

“If people think in the same ways again and again, they are going to come up with the same answers. This only stops when different viewpoints are raised, and different questions are heard.”

Kelley says attackers come from, and operate in, many different environments, and cybersecurity teams need to match this diversity as much as they can. However, the make-up of today’s international cybersecurity community remains surprisingly homogenous.

“About 90 percent are men and, depending on where you are in the world, they are often white men,” she says. “In Asia, it tends to be a little worse. Only about nine percent are women.”

The need for change comes amid unprecedented demand for cybersecurity and a chronic shortage of skilled specialists across the world. Kelley sees this an opportunity.

“We’ve got this big gap in hiring, so why not create a more diverse and inclusive community of people working on the problem?” she said in an interview on her recent visit to Singapore, one of many global cities vying for talent in the sector.

One major concern is gender imbalance. Even though many well-paying jobs are up for grabs, relatively few women are taking up, and staying in, cybersecurity roles.

Fixing the gender imbalance

“When I got into the field almost 30 years ago, women had very low representation in computer science in general,” Kelley says. “Back then, I just assumed it would change over time. But it hasn’t.”

Studies show that girls often drop out of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects in middle or high school. Some women university graduates do enter the profession. But a lot end up leaving – many for cultural reasons in the workplace.

“There is a high attrition rate. We need to promote the value of studying STEM. And, we also need to work for the people who are in the field now by creating inclusive work environments.”

Kelley joined Microsoft about two years ago. Since then, she has been struck by its strong culture of respecting diverse viewpoints and encouraging inclusion – things she hasn’t seen stressed in some other companies.

“Not every idea is a great idea. But that doesn’t mean it should be mocked or dismissed. It should be respected as an idea. I have spoken to some women elsewhere who say because they didn’t feel heard or respected, they didn’t want to stay in IT.”

Bringing in all sorts of people

Kelley says more can be done to build up diversity and inclusion beyond fixing the gender mix. Again, she is impressed by Microsoft’s efforts. “Yes, we need to engage more women. But we also need to bring in all sorts of people from different social and career backgrounds.

“For instance, our team – the Cybersecurity Solution Group at Microsoft – is looking for people who may not have worked in cybersecurity in the past, but have a great interest (in technology) as well as other talents. So we are creating diversity that way too.”

Kelley recounts her own sideways entry into the field. She fell in love with computers and software during her teens when she discovered for herself how vulnerable networks at the time could be.

Later she graduated from university with a very non-techie qualification: a degree in English. Her first few jobs were editorial roles, but being tech-savvy soon meant she became the “go-to IT guy” in her office.

“Finally someone said to me, ‘Hey, you know what? IT is your calling, and we are hiring.’ So, what had been a hobby for me then became a career.”

She eventually moved into cybersecurity after an intruder broke into a network she had just built. “I pivoted from being a network and software person to someone very much focused on creating secure and resilient architectures and networks to thwart the bad guys.”

We need diverse thinkers

Looking to the future, she wants a broader pool of job seekers to consider careers in cybersecurity, even if they did not like STEM at school.

“We need diverse thinkers … people who understand psychology, for example, who can help understand the mindsets behind these attacks. We need great legal minds to help with ethics and privacy. And, political minds who understand lobbying.”

The cybersecurity world needs individuals who are altruistic and have a little more. “We go into this field because we want to do the right thing and protect people and protect data. That is a critical part. And, it also really helps to have a sort of a ‘tinkering mindset.’”

She explains that when cybersecurity professionals create systems, they also have to produce threat models. To do that, they need to think about, ‘What if I was a bad guy? What if I was trying to take this apart? How could it be taken apart?’ That is the point where they can start to work out how to make their system more attack resistant.

Meanwhile, she is eager to debunk a few myths swirling around the subject of cybercrime.

For starters, the days of the smart lone wolf kid in a hoodie hacking for fun from his bedroom are more or less over. Nowadays, only a tiny minority of perpetrators cause digital mischief and embarrassment just for the bragging rights or are “hacktivists” who want to advance social or environmental causes.

Ominously, there are sophisticated state-sponsored actors targeting the vulnerabilities of rival powers. Governments around the world are rightly worried about their citizens’ data. But they also fear for the security of vital infrastructure, like power grids and transport systems. Accordingly, military strategists now rate cyber as a field of warfare alongside land, sea, and air.

That said, most of the bad guys are simply in it for the money and do not deserve the glory and headlines they sometimes get.

“They are not glamorous. Many are in big criminal syndicates that just want to grab our data – hurting us and hurting our loved ones.”

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Author: Microsoft News Center

When you want that job, tell them your story – Microsoft Life

Building your career is a journey filled with challenges, excitement, and forks in the road. And journeys are easier with maps. In this column, job experts answer your questions and deliver advice to help you take the next step.

Question: I feel like my résumé doesn’t really show the real me. How can I help people looking at my resume get a better idea of who I am?

Answer: Humans have relied on storytelling forever to share their experiences and journeys and to connect with each other. Not only does storytelling pass along useful information, but it conveys emotion and helps uncover universal themes that others will relate to. And you can even use the power of storytelling in your job search.

“Your story should reflect your truth, your authentic self, and the great work you’ve done,” said Chris Bell, an executive recruiter at Microsoft. “We’ve all had life and professional experiences that have helped shape our unique perspective on the world and our personal impact.”

Storytelling is a skill in and of itself, he points out. “Through your résumé, LinkedIn profile, and interviews, your communication and selling skills are demonstrated. Plus, when you tell a story, you’re displaying your ability to create an emotional connection.”

Here are Bell’s top recommendations for how to use storytelling techniques at every checkpoint (i.e., résumé, LinkedIn profile, interview) of your job hunt.

Infuse your résumé with narrative

When writing your résumé, don’t rely on keywords and jargon to tell your story. Think of using your skills and background as a starting point and then creating a narrative, Bell said. Avoid speaking in shorthand and relying on sentence fragments.

For example, he often sees experience statements such as, “Drove benefit packages, negotiating multiple options for benefits at a cost reduction of 29 percent.”

“What does ‘drove benefit packages’ mean?” he asked. “Was this person the benefits administrator or the individual selling or selecting benefits packages?”

Take a look at his expanded example, which adds context and answers an interviewer’s potential follow-up questions at first glance:

“I was responsible for the company’s benefit package selection process that entailed driving the RFP process with five vendors. I led a collaborative team that negotiated a multi-option benefit package that exceeded our employees’ needs while reducing benefit spend by 29 percent.”

By telling the job highlights narratively and focusing on impact, job seekers avoid vagueness and open the gates for a deeper conversation about how they approach their work and why it’s successful.

Don’t over-focus on résumé length, Bell said. While the standard recommendation is two pages, Bell believes that focusing first on storytelling will ultimately lead to the most readable version of your résumé. “Write what’s relevant; people will read,” he said.

Tell a story with your LinkedIn profile

Don’t be afraid to show your personality and call out your professional identity with your LinkedIn profile, Bell said. One place you can do this is with your profile headline. Bell shows a bit of personality with his own headline: Definitely a Recruiter | Leader and Learn-It-All.

When crafting your headline, consider the role you seek, relevant keywords, the type of company you see yourself working at, your personal brand, and the story you’d like to tell. Bell calls out that his field is recruitment and that he’s a leader who’s constantly learning and finding ways to improve his craft.

Next, consider the Summary section, which gives people a deeper snapshot of who you are, where your passions lie, and what you bring to the table. This is also a space where you can link to other places online where recruiters and hiring managers can learn even more about you, such as social media platforms, a podcast you run, or a blog that you manage. Keep your bio succinct, personable, and relevant, and continue to create the narrative with first-person phrasing. Tell the story of who you are.

The Experience section of your LinkedIn profile allows you to be more granular about your goals, learnings, and successes in each role. Bell advises that you steer clear of the résumé format in this section and take this opportunity to tell the story.

For instance, rather than say “I managed five events each year,” connect the dots between the work you did and who you are. Here’s an example:

I love processes and data. Yes! I admit it. Plus, I enjoy taking opportunities to train others.

At A-Z Event Planning, I made it a personal goal to create event strategy processes to make my and my colleagues’ lives easier while making our clients’ smiles bigger. While my charter was to run five events per year, I also took it upon myself to use my forecasting experience to develop a more “on the nose” event performance dashboard to predict attendance rates. This allowed us to plan better and make cost-saving recommendations to our clients. I also created an “event in a box” program that we rolled out to our international offices. This not only simplified the overall company’s processes, it also led to consistent, industry-leading programming across the board.

I absolutely enjoyed this job because it allowed me to tap into my hidden talents and learn more about international event planning. Since I spearheaded the programs, I was also asked to train my colleagues across the country and internationally.

In this example, the job seeker showcases their personality, drive, and skillsets. You want readers to feel your passion, enthusiasm, and knack for getting the job done.

Tell your story in an interview

“Everyone should be able to tell their own story,” said Bell. “And it is important to practice.”

When you are asked “tell me about yourself,” this is the moment to tell your truth, but keep it focused on what’s relevant to the job. For example, this is not the moment to explain that you were raised on a farm with five siblings—unless your farming background is relevant to the job you seek (maybe the company you want to work for creates technology solutions for farmers); if so, by all means connect those dots.

Keep your answer under two minutes, he said, but offer details about key roles, learnings, and personal experiences that tie into the role that you seek. Try to use a narrative arc to show your evolution as an expert in your space and to explain how you’ve built on your experience to get you to this point. Again, practice makes perfect.

Also have a narrative ready for anything recruiters or hiring managers might zero in on, such as short stints in a role or gaps in employment. “In any interview, you want to come across as polished, not stumped or appearing as though you have something to hide,” Bell said.

A popular question to anticipate and approach through storytelling is, “Tell me about a time when you failed. How did you handle it?”

“People fail,” said Bell. “But, many people don’t have a cohesive story to explain the situation.”

As with any behavioral question, he suggests that job seekers use the STAR method to talk through their answer. To make the story more interesting and relevant, Bell suggests that you also explain what you learned and what you would have done differently.

Don’t treat your responses as answers, but as stories that support the idea that your unique experiences, passions, and drive make you the best person for the job.

Bring the whole story together

Bell said that through storytelling, you can make an emotional connection that helps position you as memorable and indispensable.

“The right words and experiences help convey your story in a way that emotionally connects with others,” said Bell. “Remember, this is your story.”

Don’t stop dreaming: you’ve got the job, now what? – Microsoft Life

Building your career is a journey filled with challenges, excitement, and forks in the road. And journeys are easier with maps. In this column, job experts answer your questions and deliver advice to help you take the next step.

Question: I landed an exciting job. Now that I’m settling in, I don’t want to lose my momentum. What should I do to keep my career moving in a positive direction?

Answer: You’re right—your career is a moving target, so it’s a good idea to be open and willing to develop yourself for what lies ahead. Whether you’re new to the workforce or have been with a company for years, one role probably won’t be the end of your journey.

Microsoft recruiter Heidi Landex Grotkopp believes that developing your career can be an illuminating trip into self-discovery, skill development, and building strong relationships. Here are some of her top recommendations for staying sharp and ready for what’s next, whenever it might come.

Give yourself time to settle in

It can take about a year to get fully ramped up in any role, Landex pointed out. Before you begin to set your sights on the next gig, give yourself time to get to know your work. Spend time with your peers and managers to learn more about the business, the expectations, and the customers.

As you build relationships in your role, ask for periodic check-ins—with managers as well as with peers—to ensure that you are on track with agreed-upon expectations or areas of improvement. This tactic helps you build a rapport, while gaining visibility within your team and organization.

Landex said that your ramp-up is the perfect window to gain insight from others—and yourself. In this ongoing process, consider what you’re doing in your work and how you’re doing it. This will help you notice how you are evolving in your role, reflect on challenges you have taken on, and figure out how to keep growing, she said.

“Ask yourself, if I had been a bit bolder, what would I have done differently?” said Landex.

Fill in your skill gaps

As you continue to gauge your strong suits and identify areas of development, focus on your strengths, but don’t be afraid to know and publicly acknowledge your areas of opportunity. Those may be the very areas that could lead you into something new and exciting, something unexpected.

“Let’s say you don’t have a specific skillset or it doesn’t come naturally to you, but you love 90 percent of the rest of your job. You might be in the right role, and you should get mentoring and training to ‘skill you up’ on the 10 percent that you are concerned about,” she said.

Go to your manager and have a conversation about the identified gap. Landex suggested communicating about your growth area but that you know it’s a skill you can improve. Then lay out a plan to execute that: a training, a long-term class, or help from a mentor.

“Your manager should be able to help you identify someone in the organization that would be a great help,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a local mentor. It could be someone in a different job or different location than you. The idea is to find someone who you can shadow a bit, in person or virtually, and ask questions about how you can improve within your specific scenarios.”

And remember, Landex said, “You might not be the strongest in a skill, but never look in a mirror and think you’re not good enough.” Everyone can improve once they set their target.

Build connections beyond your role

Landex also believes employees should seek a sponsor or champion.

“A sponsor is not a mentor but someone who can help you in your next career step,” she explained. “Let’s say you don’t have all the right skills or the right technology, but you have the right effort and capabilities to get there. With the right sponsor, they will help you connect with the right people and opportunities to get you to the next stage of your career.”

Be your best data keeper

Having a record of your career path can be surprisingly insightful. Landex said she does this in two ways: by documenting her accomplishments, and by asking colleagues to share their feedback about her.

The personal document is just for you. “It can be 10 pages or no limit,” she said. “Put in all the different roles you’ve had. Write in your achievements and how you managed. Keep it chronicled and make note of what’s relevant.”

Then revisit it about once a year or as your accomplishments happen. Continue to think about how your direction changes, and adjust your entries to showcase relevant details.

This personal document is a great way for you notice trends in your accomplishments and pinpoint new, in-demand skillsets that you’ve obtained. Also, by calling out how you got there, you’re making note of your way of thinking through a problem or project.

Landex also suggests collecting unsolicited feedback. Whether it’s a kind note from your manager about a project you rocked or an appreciative hallway chat with a peer about your work ethic, save it.

“I actually capture my feedback on LinkedIn,” said Landex who feels the Recommendations section of the platform is an underutilized tool. “When I get good feedback from someone other than my manager, I ask the person if they could share their feedback as a recommendation on LinkedIn.”

Understand that your career is evolutionary

With every great role, you’ll find great lessons and potential successes. By chronicling your experience, expanding your connections, and showcasing your well-earned accolades, you are setting a solid foundation to nurture your career development.

Never treat a new role as the “end all, be all.” It’s simply a milestone of your career evolution.

Attending Black Hat USA 2018? Here’s what to expect from Microsoft.

Black Hat USA 2018 brings together professionals at all career levels, encouraging growth and collaboration among academia, world-class researchers, and leaders in the public and private sectors. This is an exciting time as our Microsoft researchers, partners, and security experts will showcase the latest collaborations in defense strategies for cybersecurity, highlight solutions for security vulnerabilities in applications, and bring together an ecosystem of intelligent security solutions. Our objective is to arm business, government, and consumers with deeply integrated intelligence and threat protection capabilities across platforms and products.

Security researchers play an essential role in Microsoft’s security strategy and are key to community-based defense. To show our appreciation for their hard work and partnership, each year at Black Hat USA, the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) highlights the contributions of these researchers through the list of “Top 100” security researchers reporting to Microsoft (either directly or through a third party) during the previous 12 months. While one criterion for the ranking is volume of fixed reports a researcher has made, the severity and impact of the reports is very important to the ranking also. Given the number of individuals reporting to Microsoft, anyone ranked among the Top 100 is among some of the top talent in the industry.

In addition to unveiling the Top 100 and showcasing Microsoft security solutions at Booth #652, there are a number of featured Microsoft speakers and sessions:

Join us at these sessions during the week of August 4-9, 2018 in Las Vegas and continue the discussion with us in Booth #652, where we will have product demonstrations, theatre presentations, and an opportunity to learn more about our Top 100 and meet with some of Microsoft’s security experts and partners.

How thinking like a recruiter can open more doors in your job search – Microsoft Life

Building your career is a journey filled with challenges, excitement, and forks in the road. And journeys are easier with maps. In this column, job experts answer your questions and deliver advice to help you take the next step.

Question: I’m interested in a role that I found on a job site. I reached out to a recruiter at the company through LinkedIn, but I didn’t hear back. Did I go about this the wrong way?

Answer:  If you’ve spotted the perfect role on a job site, you may be tempted to run a quick LinkedIn search, identify a recruiter who works at that company, and reach out. Sometimes this approach works, but more often, you never hear anything back. Why?

While LinkedIn is a great way to connect with others during a job search, you may be going about your networking in the wrong way—or even with the wrong person.

Microsoft recruiter Mike Maglio offers a simple approach to using LinkedIn to increase your chance of getting a response and making a meaningful connection. His secret? Think like a recruiter.

It’s no surprise that recruiters use LinkedIn’s search tool to find potential candidates for their open jobs. The trick, Maglio says, is for job seekers to use the same search tool to find recruiters who might be hiring for the jobs you want.

“In their profile, a lot of recruiters will explain what they do and what organizations they cover to show up in searches more accurately,” he said. You can find them by doing your own search.

For example, if you are a software engineer who is passionate about working on Azure technology, search for “Azure AND recruiter AND Microsoft.” Maglio suggests job seekers use Boolean search logic with terms such as “AND” to yield more relevant results with a more accurate listing of recruiters in that space. “Use filters such as current company, location, etc. to get even more relevant results,” he added.

“Even within a product as big as Azure, you still want to get as specific with your search as possible,” said Maglio. “The more targeted you are, the better.”

Check out the profiles of the recruiters you found, and then choose a couple who work with your specific qualifications, such as software engineer, recent graduate, and Azure solutions.

Now that you’ve located the right recruiters, it’s time to introduce yourself. Craft a message that is concise, precise, and offers information that explains who you are. “Recruiters get many messages, so being direct and specific increases the likelihood you’ll get a response,” said Maglio.

Use a warm welcome, such as “Hello [Recruiter Name]” and then be clear about what you are seeking (e.g., referral for a role, connection to a team, information, etc.). A recruiter is going to look at your profile, so you don’t have to send a full resume or  write an introduction with all of your experience.

Do you have a mutual connection? Mention that person in your introduction—or better yet ask your mutual connection to make an InMail introduction between you and the recruiters, Maglio suggested. This gives you an automatic “trust boost” because the recruiters are familiar with the connection who’s referring you.

“If you are reaching out about a role, include the link to the job posting. Let the recruiters know that you’re interested and would like to be considered for the role,” he said. It will also help recruiters connect you with other recruiters or hiring teams, in case that specific role is handled by someone else.

If you are simply wanting more information, be clear about that. If the recruiters can help, they might potentially schedule time to chat with you or even refer you to someone in the organization.

Recruiters need to understand who you are beyond your resume and LinkedIn profile, so use your chance to show them what you can bring to the company or job.

“You should be able to demonstrate your value and show you are a knowledgeable applicant, but be concise,” said Maglio.

“You could briefly speak to a relevant article or press release that ties into your passion. Or—if possible—call out a patent, applications you’ve built, or a slideshow of projects that can be viewed,” he said.

These examples show your passions and interests, beyond just your resume. “But keep it short and sweet,” Maglio said. “The last thing you want to do is bury that kind of info.”

If you’ve followed these steps and haven’t been able to connect with the first set of recruiters you’ve identified, keep applying and refining these steps.

The right connection is out there, along with the role of your dreams.

How to ‘come out’ as an LGBTQ+ ally at work – Microsoft Life

Building your career is a journey filled with challenges, excitement, and forks in the road. And journeys are easier with maps. In this column, job experts answer your questions and deliver advice to help you take the next step.

Question: I want to help my coworkers feel respected for who they really are. But sometimes I’m not sure what to do or say to show that I’m an ally, and I don’t want to mess up or hurt anyone’s feelings. How can I be a better ally?

Answer: The first step to becoming a better ally is wanting to be one—so you’re on the path already! There are many ways to be an ally in your professional realm, including connecting with coworkers to learn what they face and care about, stepping in when someone isn’t being treated with respect, and educating others. These Microsoft employees, who are all allies or members of the LGBTQ+ community, have some advice.

Know what an ally is and why you should be one

An LGBTQ+ ally is someone who respects equal rights, gender equality, and LGBTQ+ social movements; stands up for members of the LGBTQ+ community; and challenges homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. Allies increase protection, safety, and equality.

“Coming out” as an ally in the workplace sends a powerful message of affirmation and support to LGBTQ+ employees, which can help them feel more respected and able to do their work.

Spend a little time thinking about why you want to be an ally—and think about why allies are needed and how you could make a difference, said Andrea Llamas, a senior human resources advisor.

Often, the motivation to be an ally comes from personal stories and connections.

“Everyone has a friend or family member that is part of the LGBTQ+ community,” Llamas said. “To make the world a better place for the people in that community, [we need to get to the place where] sexual orientation or gender identity is not important.”

Once you know why you want to be an ally and what you might want to accomplish by being one—whether it’s as simple as making another person feel comfortable or as big as becoming a vocal advocate for change—you can figure out how to do it.

Set out to learn more

Many people feel unsure of their role as allies in part because they aren’t familiar with the experiences or realities of LGBTQ+ people. Don’t worry if you don’t know what a term means or if you aren’t familiar with an issue. Research is where to start, Llamas said.

“If you don’t have the information you need and if you are curious, ask,” she said.

If you do ask a coworker who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, make sure that you pose your question in a respectful way and perhaps in private. First and foremost, communicate your openness and desire to learn so that you can support.

If you’re worried about saying the wrong thing to LGBTQ+ coworkers—such as using the wrong pronoun—respectfully ask them how they prefer to be addressed or how you should refer to something. You might also ask how they would prefer that people address mistakes when they happen, suggested Michael Tan, a Microsoft manager of a transgender employee.

But don’t rely on LGBTQ+ people to educate you on everything; do your own research. Morty Scanlon, a business program manager, suggests using resources from Straight for Equality, The Human Rights Campaign, and Outstanding to learn more.

Members of Microsoft’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group GLEAM, which stands for Gay and Lesbian Employees at Microsoft, have helped create resources and workshops for coworkers who want to be allies. Find out whether your company has similar resources, suggest that they be created, or even help compile them, said Scanlon, cochair of GLEAM.

“When people have resources at their disposal, they can see a path toward their own allyship to materialize,” he said.

As you do your research, look at your own assumptions. Take the opportunity to recognize and move past bias. Use these questions as guides:

  • What assumptions have you made?
  • Do you know if they are true?
  • How could you find out?

Show support and speak up

Some gestures by allies might seem small, but they can mean a lot. For example, Llamas said, “Don’t hide any relations you have to someone in the LGBTQ+ community, such as friends or family members.” Talking about your gay brother or transgender cousin the same way that you talk about any family member or friend shows that you value people equally regardless of their identities.

You can also communicate your support in simple ways, such as by putting stickers on your computer or signs at your desk, by attending LGBTQ+ support events, or by joining an advocacy effort. These actions show people who have faced challenges or who have previously not been accepted for who they are that they have your support in little and big ways.

“Remember that there are many ways to let people know that you are an ally,” said Llamas, who serves as the GLEAM Mexico lead.

Being an ally also means speaking up when some voices aren’t heard, when someone is excluded, or when something harmful is said. Listen fully to others’ ideas, contributions, and stories. Intervene when someone is being discounted or ignored or if harmful language is used. If someone has been treated with harm, approach them to see what they need and offer support.

And people who need allies themselves can also be an ally to others, Scanlon said.

“In the same way that allies are essential to the LGBTQ+ community, we also have a responsibility to be allies for others. The lessons I’ve learned in working to be a better ally to the transgender community are lessons that I can apply to evolve my allyship beyond my own community and apply more broadly to the workplace: examining my assumptions, listening to understand, identifying and addressing my blind spots, and being brave.”

Let empathy lead

When Michael Tan, director of strategy, learned that a member of his team was transgender and would be transitioning, he set out to determine how he could help.

“My first role was trying to make sure that the work environment would respond appropriately and that people were respectful,” he said.

But he didn’t immediately know how to be an ally.

“I was in the camp initially where you’re so afraid of saying the wrong thing. I saw other people also so afraid of saying the wrong thing or using the wrong pronoun that they took the path of least resistance and didn’t reach out at all.”

Tan invited the Ingersoll Gender Center to talk to his group. The speakers shared firsthand experiences, background about the transgender community in the workplace, common challenges transgender employees often face, and guidance on how to be supportive.

Listening directly to people’s experiences sparked empathy, Tan said. However you can, seek out others’ stories—they will help you feel connected.

Try to understand the emotional journey that someone else goes through, he said. It’s a powerful display of support “to find out, and then do, what they need to feel comfortable.”

What being welcomed at work looks like – Microsoft Life

Building your career is a journey filled with challenges, excitement, and forks in the road. And journeys are easier with maps. In this column, job experts answer your questions and deliver advice to help you take the next step.

Question: I’m part of the LGBTQ+ community, and it’s important to me to work at a place that accepts me for who I am. What’s the best way to figure that out, even before I apply?

Answer: When you choose a job, you’re choosing more than the actual work you’ll do. You’re becoming part of a whole culture: the environment around you, the coworkers and leaders, and the role the company plays in the broader world. Our workplace becomes a significant part of our lives. And how we feel there can influence our focus, our ideas, and our sense of well-being.

As Claudia del Hierro, a senior program manager at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, puts it, “You’re going to live that culture every single day.”

Whether you’re actively seeking a new job or casually curious about what other companies are like, how do you decipher if a workplace is somewhere all employees, including those who are LGBTQ+, feel supported? We spoke with a few employees who have sought that answer for themselves. Here are their tips and advice.

Investigate the company’s track record

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) releases an annual Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmarking tool that tracks corporate policies and practices pertinent to LGBTQ+ people. Checking that index is a good place to start, del Hierro said.

“Is the company you want to work for rated? What’s its score? That alone tells you a lot about the culture. Some companies have jumped on the LGBTQ+ train for marketing or to gain consumers but don’t really live those values,” she said. “HRC digs into policies so you can assess more deeply.”

Don’t stop there, said Sera Fernando, an assistant Microsoft store manager in Santa Clara, California, who identifies as a trans female. Fernando already worked at Microsoft when she made the decision to transition. At the same time, a transgender friend of hers was also interested in the company and was asking her about its culture. Fernando set out to learn more about how the company approached transgender people, employees, and issues. She began to research both internally, where she found Microsoft’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group GLEAM, which stands for Gay and Lesbian Employees at Microsoft and includes the entire LGBTQ+ spectrum and their allies, and externally, where she found helpful news coverage.

“Read news stories. Enter all the search terms. See what comes up. Do the research,” said Fernando, now the community codirector of GLEAM.

See how the company shows up

Supporting and participating in local and national Pride events and parades does not guarantee a welcoming workplace year-round, but it’s a clue, said Dena Y. Lawrence, a pre-sales manager for Microsoft in Dublin.

“When you’re out at a Pride parade, see which companies are showing up. You can see from a public corporate perspective which ones have embraced LGBTQ+ equality.”

Once you know whether a company lends its support publicly to the LGBTQ+ community, look closer, Fernando adds. Does the company advocate for equity, at events and in the public sphere?

“Are all LGBTQ+ groups being represented—nonbinary, genderqueer, transgender, intersex? Are those stories being shown and told? Are there signs that the company is in tune with the message year-round? Are they just rainbow-fying everything, or are there deeper commitments? What is the senior leadership team doing and saying—what is its involvement? Is it involved in the initiatives? How is the company amplifying efforts?”

See how it recruits

Beyond celebratory events, look at marketing.

Pay attention to how and where a company recruits, said Lawrence, who has served on Microsoft’s GLEAM board and has created a talk on how to assess how progressive a company is.

“Has a company taken the time and initiative to find advertising space in LGBTQ+ specific magazines or digital channels?” If so, she said, it’s an indication of a commitment to make those employees feel welcome and supported and to ensure that the company is recruiting all types of employees, she said.

See what it offers

Look as closely as you can at a company’s policies and benefits. Is there equity for LGBTQ+ employees? Are there family benefits and medical benefits that support the needs of LGBTQ+ employees?

“Go into the policies. Ask Human Resources for links to the benefits. Look closely at the language around leave, parental leave—does the language refer only to male and female partners? Updating that language means the organization has already done a lot of work internally to transform,” Lawrence said.

“If there are antidiscrimination policies that call out sexual orientation and—the holy grail—gender identity, then they have the core ingredients for inclusion.”

Talk to employees

If you have friends or networking connections who can put you in contact with employees—especially those who are LGBTQ+—grab the chance to talk with them.

“They live the culture every day. What’s on paper might not be the reality. Sometimes the reality is even better; sometimes it’s not,” said del Hierro, who serves as GLEAM’s Latin American director.

“Do they have an employee resource group that’s active? Could you be visible in that space if you wanted to be? Find people who are thriving; see what that looks like,” said Fernando.

See how the company responds to you

Don’t hesitate to ask directly in an interview about how the company supports diversity and inclusion. Take note of how those questions are received.

“There are so many companies embracing diversity and inclusion—you don’t want to work for a company where you can’t be who you are, in this day and age,” Lawrence said.

And if a company won’t support and welcome you, del Hierro said, you probably don’t want to work there.

“I was the cofounder for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in Mexico, and I started my college’s LGBTQ+ alumni chapter. It’s on my CV because it’s important to me and relevant to my experience. If someone won’t consider me because of that, then I would not want the job.”