Having the technical ability to do something is one part of being successful but the second part is marketing yourself. It doesn’t do you much good if you have a great skillset but no one knows about your ability. If you want to get a high-paying job, high paying clients or get invited to do private bug bounty programs where the pay is often much higher than the key is to market yourself. You need to bring people’s attention to you so that they can be aware of who you are, what your skill set is and how you can provide value to them. Here, I outline some key points for effectively marketing yourself as a hacker:
The first thing you should focus on is picking a specialty. There are many different types of attacks and focuses that you can have as a hacker. Naturally, people have bias where the more someone is aligned with what we are looking for, the more likely we are to believe that this person is good at that thing. So for example, say a company is looking for a penetration test for a web application. If you’re a general hacker, you don’t seem like such a good fit but if you’re a hacker that specializes in web application security testing then you look like a much better candidate. This is a simple example but you can specialize even further. Some examples of specialization a hacker may have are malware development, phishing emails, web applications or websites. You can also specialize in certain types of attacks such as XSS, SQL injection or buffer overflows.
Have a good Portfolio
Having a portfolio is important to build people’s confidence in your abilities. This means having examples of your work that you can show other people. Even without a previous job to show your experience you can work on projects and then do write-ups or walkthroughs that show step by step what you did and how you did it. Many jobs require years of experience, but the question is how do you get experience if no one will hire you? One way to do that is to get experience by doing the work on your own time. Then when you go to the interview you have work experience that you can talk about and use to show people that you are capable.
Have a Website
I believe every professional should have a website to show their expertise. Having a website makes it easier to find you on the web, it shows that you take yourself seriously which means other people will take you more seriously and it also makes you stand out. Almost everyone has a resume and a Linkedin, but if you have a website with some blog posts, technical write-ups and even some youtube videos that you made talking about hacking, it will look much better to employers. Remember employers see people every day that will swear that they are hardworking, dedicated to learning and are passionate about the job. Most of this will be lies because people want to get the job. If you have taken the time to build something like a website and put content on that website, it’s proof that you are as dedicated as you say. The less you have to say in any negotiation the better, you want to be able to show your value not have to tell someone.
Teach a Course
One of the best ways to show your knowledge and potentially make some money is to teach other people. Platforms like Udemy, Udacity and Cybrary are all examples of platforms that allow you to take online courses on cybersecurity that you can sell to a large audience. Just being in the position where you are teaching people will make you be viewed as an expert and make people have a higher level of respect for your knowledge. Also, it gives you a chance to create some passive income, which is always good in the long run.
Channels for Marketing Yourself
For an aspiring hacker, I think youtube is one of the best places to start. When people are looking to learn how to use security tools, learn new attacks or complete a hacking challenge online, most people want to follow a walkthrough. If you start creating youtube videos explaining how to complete some of the popular online challenges like Hackthebox, you can demonstrate your ability while building up a following. It may seem impossible to build a following but if you look up tutorials on youtube, there aren’t that many people that are making these tutorials so I think it’s a good way to stand out from the pack and establish yourself as an expert.
Learning Platforms: Udemy, Udacity, Cybrary and Code Red
Another good place for video content is putting it on learning platforms like those listed above. The advantage here is that you get the chance to profit from your work. I find that a lot of the people that are successful on youtube also create courses on these platforms, so they leverage both to build bigger audiences.
If you don’t like the idea of speaking or showing your face on camera you can create written content. If you create a website with a blog you can show people your expertise. Common ways people do this are through write-ups, which are a written walkthrough of how someone was able to hack into a particular system, it shows all of the commands, tools and methodologies that they used to do it. Also, you can write general blog posts that speak to topics that would be of interest to someone that wants to learn more about hacking.
Having the technical ability and skill set is only the first part of being a successful hacker. Marketing yourself is just as important, it doesn’t do you much good if you have a great skillset but none of the people with the means to hire you are aware of your ability. I would recommend investing time into at least one of these options to start putting your name out there so that you can start attracting more opportunities for yourself. Even if you’re not that skillful now, it takes time to build traction. So even for a beginner, I think it makes sense to start sharing what you know or what you’re learning to start helping others. You only need to be one step ahead of someone to teach them something useful.