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Better job hunting using a hacker mentality with Jason and Jacquelyn Blanchard

An infosec practitioner and content & community director share advice on social engineering your way to a new job.

Notes:
Jason and Jacquelyn Blanchard complement each other not only as husband and wife, but through the combination of their unique skill sets. They bring together their talents - Jason as a marketer, and Jacque as an infosec professional - in a twice-weekly livestream to help the community find jobs, an especially important mission in today's market. In this episode, they talk with host Jason Nickola about the steps you need to take to find the right job, the importance of courage and pushing through imposter syndrome, and how to continually maintain your resume and network whether you're job hunting or not.
Bio:

Jacquelyn Blanchard is an Information Technology professional with 15 years of IT experience including 2.5 years as a DoD Certified Computer Forensics Examiner, 2 years as a Cyber Threat Intelligence Analyst, 4 years as an IT Auditor and 4 years as a SAP Application Security Administrator. Jacquelyn earned her B.S. in Business Administration from Sullivan University and her M.A. in Business and Organizational Security Management from Webster University. She holds the GREM, GPEN, GCFE, GCIH, CISSP, and CRISC certifications. Jacquelyn is also an organizer for BSides Charm (Baltimore).

Jason Blanchard has been happily adopted into the hacker community even though he, "works in marketing." He's had every dream job imaginable: teaching film making, owning the world's most famous comic book store, and fostering the infosec community efforts for SANS. Now he humbly brings his particular set of skills to Black Hills as the Content and Community Director. Twice a week, he and his wife, Jacquelyn, share advice on hacking your way into your dream job on Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/banjocrashland

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Transcript:

Jason Nickola

This is "Trust Me, I'm Certified" brought to you by GIAC Certifications, a podcast exploring how to conquer imposter syndrome.

Welcome back to "Trust Me, I'm Certified." I'm your host, Jason Nickola, and on this episode we're going to break the mold a little bit and have a pair of guests, Jacque and Jason Blanchard. Now they are, of course, married to each other. And they've taken their backgrounds in infosec - Jacque as a high-level practitioner across all areas of security and leadership, and Jason as a marketer and community builder for GIAC and SANS and now Black Hills Infosec - they've taken that experience and decided to use it to try and help the unfortunately many who are now unemployed in this difficult economic environment that the world is in. They host a regular Twitch stream that they use to not only generally discuss job hunting, but to also dig into specific techniques for jobs that viewers of the stream are going after, all of which happens in real time. This was a fantastic conversation about not only job hunting but overcoming self-doubt, what makes a great infosec pro, the value of great mentors which Jacque seems to have had more than her fair share of, and lots more, so please enjoy this conversation with the Blanchards.

Jason Nickola

Jason and Jacque Blanchard, thank you so much for joining us.

Jason Blanchard

Thank you for having us.

Jacque Blanchard

Thanks for having us.

Jason Nickola

All right. So Jacque, if you don't mind, let's start with you. You are a practitioner yourself. What is your background and how did you get started in the industry?

Jacque Blanchard

Yeah, I've been in cyber security now for close to 20 years. And I basically went to school, wanted to be a mathematician. And my stepdad told me that that was ridiculous, that there's no money in math and he told me to go into computers and here I am 20 years later.

Jason Nickola

20 years later. So there had to be something a little bit more than that there, though. So you were at least interested in computers, right?

Jacque Blanchard

I didn't know that much about them at the time. I was taking classes at that point with learning Fortran, learning COBOL, all of the really old languages that aren't applicable. And I wasn't at the time super interested. But I was interested in having a good career and being able to support my family. But after being in my career for a while, I definitely started really enjoying and loving it. And so I kept at it.

Jason Nickola

So something you just kind of stumbled into, but it worked out and you're really still enjoying it.

Jacque Blanchard

Yes, absolutely.

Jason Nickola

Cool. Jason, you've had a really interesting and varied background, but somehow eventually that resulted in you working at a few different companies, a few different really prevalent companies in infosec with GIAC and SANS, and then now Black Hills. How did that happen?

Jason Blanchard

Jacque, my wife, saw a job post on Twitter. So she was following infosec Twitter, saw a job post for marketing manager for SANS, sent me the tweet or the Craigslist post and said, I think you'd be really good at this. And at the time, I really enjoyed - I came from the comic book industry, I came from film making, and storytelling was what I did. And so the idea of cybersecurity was "eh". But one of the things that appealed to me was the chance to get to work in the same industry with my wife, and we'd been married for 16 years and we'd always been in different places and for a chance to bring together what she does and what I do into the industry together, it just felt like the right time, right place, right job.

Jacque Blanchard

Did you say Craigslist post?

Jason Blanchard

It was a Craigslist post?

Jacque Blanchard

Was that really?

Jason Blanchard

It was. It was a Craigslist post.

Jason Nickola

Yeah, lots of people get jobs on Craigslist.e I think that's actually pretty common.

Unknown Speaker

But I mean, I took the next step where I found who posted it and tracked them down on LinkedIn and then stalked them.

Jason Nickola

I think I've heard some of these techniques somewhere. We'll get into that in just a little bit. So one of the things that I think is really interesting is you have a background in video production and storytelling and comic book stories. People who don't read comic books might not know this, but there's a lot of really awesome stories in comic books, as well as a lot of great story writing. And then ending up at SANS and Black Hills now with some super, super high-level instructors, there's still that narrative of narrative and storytelling and the ability to communicate complex information in a way that really lands with people and sticks through the use of story. So is that something that was an advantage to you, having that background coming into the infosec field?

Jason Blanchard

It was like one of the first things that happened when I got a chance to work at SANS was I wanted to take pictures of all the instructors. And in order to take pictures of all the instructors, we had to go into every classroom while they were teaching. And in one day, I got to see every single SANS instructor at a big event teach. And within the five minutes or six minutes I was in each classroom, I was like they can tell stories. That's the one difference between a regular person who's just conveying information, and a passionate instructor who can say here's a concept, but let me tell you the story about how it works and weave that in. And so I was hearing the hook, the beginning, the middle, the climactic moment of that story, and then they would slide right into "and here's how you apply it" and I was like, damn, that's good stuff. And so my background in storytelling, I just kind of fit right in with what I was doing.

Jason Nickola

And now you get to work very closely with John Strand, who's arguably one of the best that there is in doing that kind of thing.

Jason Blanchard

Correct. Whenever I would see John teach, I was like, damn!

Jason Nickola

Me too.

Jason Blanchard

Just the storytelling, right? That was fantastic.

Jason Nickola

So through your career with SANS, and then Jacque, your career as a practitioner, you've both met a lot of really high-profile, successful people in the industry. Are there things that you could generalize about those people about why they've been successful or what's contributed to their success, that you might be able to distill down into a few things that really contribute to being successful in infosec?

Jacque Blanchard

I would say that the folks that I know that are very successful weren't afraid to take risks. They had a ton of talent. They definitely doubted their talent, but they had really strong support systems that surrounded them and encouraged them. And then they took the leap and they just went off on their own. They built their own businesses and built a name for themselves. They put themselves out there. And I think at times, it was very rocky for a lot of those folks. But they were fearless. They took some serious risks. What do you think, Jason?

Jason Blanchard

Same thing. What I've seen is people who are gifted teachers, gifted instructors, gifted presenters, people who when you look at them go, wow, that's crazy. That's great. That's awesome. They're the same people who their heart was racing before they got up on stage to talk and right afterwards, they might look at someone and go "so how was it?" Like they almost think I don't know, was it good? I don't know if it was good. Hopefully this comes out well, but I was at a BSides event, and there was a guy getting ready to present and I was like, are you nervous? He's like, no. And inside I was like, oh you're not gonna do very well. It's because the people who are nervous, they still try, they still want to make sure that they exceed their own expectations. It sucks sometimes because you're nervous, but to still get up on stage regardless, and do it anyway, that's when I've seen people be successful.

Jason Nickola

Yeah. And I think a big part of it comes down to whether or not you're actually being yourself when you're performing in those ways or when you're speaking or when you're teaching. So, an odd comparison to make but Kevin Hart, I just finished listen to his book, and when he first started having success in comedy, he was literally like playing a role that was fake and making up stories that he thought were funny. And he said that he was never really nervous when he was doing that kind of stuff. And then he kind of reached a ceiling. In order to break it, he had to start being more of his authentic self and telling stories from his real life and not making things up anymore. And once he started doing that, he was terrified about being onstage and what people were gonna think of him. So when I hear people tell me that they're not nervous about going up and presenting or teaching or doing something in public, I think they're probably faking, this probably isn't super real for them. But if they're being themselves on stage or in front of a crowd, or when they're presenting, this is who I am, and people are going to do with it what they will and for most people, I think there's a real level of anxiety that comes with that. But that's kind of where you grow, at least in my experience.

Jason Blanchard

And I think the reason why I'm talking about getting up on stage is because those are the people who take a risk. To stand up in front of the boardroom, to stand up in front of a classroom, to stand up in front of your peers, to stand up and say I have something to say.

Jason Nickola

Sure.

Jacque Blanchard

It's way more terrifying to stand up in front of your peers.

Jason Nickola

Oh, yeah. Right.

Jacque Blanchard

That's the most terrifying part.

Jason Nickola

I agree, yeah. I think it's also terrifying to put yourself out there and try to help, right? So even if you're not speaking on stage in front of hundreds or thousands of people, but you're just maybe doing a live stream regularly to try to give other people skills and try to help out. I think there's even a level of anxiety that can come with that kind of thing. It's like, I'm doing something to try to make a difference. Is this gonna actually make a difference for anybody? So not so smooth segue, but tell us about the job hunting and resume and LinkedIn review that you guys have been doing on Twitch?

Jason Blanchard

Sure. So Jacque and I, every Tuesday night from 7pm to 9pm eastern time, go on Twitch and we do a live stream on job hunting, career development, LinkedIn profile reviews. Essentially, we'll answer any question anyone has. So, every once in a while someone's like "how do I negotiate" and Jacque would have a really good, like, "here's how I negotiated in a previous year, here's how I did it." Right? I will say I'm not that great at that, that's not a strong suit of mine, but I know you should.

Jason Nickola

That's good.

Jason Blanchard

Yeah. And then talking about different things that you can negotiate for. But we do the livestream. I do it by myself on Fridays, from 1 to 3pm. And we do it on Twitch. And one of the reasons we do it on Twitch is because, yeah, I got to that point where I'm in my 40s and I wanted to look cool.

Jacque Blanchard

He wanted to look hip and cool. So he wanted to go where all the cool kids were at.

Jason Blanchard

What's the haps, fellow kids?

Jacque Blanchard

That is 100% what he did.

Jason Blanchard

But the reason we're doing it, it's been an idea I've had for years to do something to help people because I used to do it when I taught film school. Many years ago, I would help my film students transition into the film industry and a part of that was helping them hunt for jobs. Yeah, and I didn't know it at the time, but I was teaching them OSINT and I was like here's how you do open source intelligence gathering on other people. Here's how you check the credits. Here's how you look this up.

Jason Nickola

It wasn't even a word yet.

Jacque Blanchard

And social engineering too.

Jason Blanchard

Yeah

Jacque Blanchard

You were rockin that.

Jason Blanchard

Then I was like, here's how you show up on set and then look like you're supposed to be there and then walk past security and then go to the -

Jason Nickola

Bring pizza and people will open the door.

Jason Blanchard

Mm hmm. We even talked about clipboards back then. I had no idea what social engineering was but right we talked about it.

Jacque Blanchard

Your clipboard was your entry badge.

Jason Nickola

Yes, right for sure.

Jason Blanchard

But when I got into the infosec industry, I was like, wait, hackers do reconnaissance. Hackers figure out a way to get inside an organization. Hackers understand social engineering, hackers won't stop until they get in. Wait a second, these are all the skills that you need to job hunt. So I gave a talk at Derby con a few years ago on how a social engineer your way into your dream job. And what happened was, I wrote the description. It was very like tongue in cheek like, are you stuck? Are you unhappy in your job? Then show up! And maybe we can fix that. And all of a sudden - Jacque was there - like it was standing room only, the place was packed at DerbyCon. And I was like, wow, there's a lot of you that are unhappy in your jobs.

Jacque Blanchard

Hopefully their hiring managers weren't there.

Jason Blanchard

I know.

Jason Nickola

Seriously.

Jacque Blanchard

That would get awkward.

Jason Blanchard

I had imposter syndrome for years. Like that's the reason this live stream wasn't a live stream because I didn't feel like I was qualified to do this. I didn't feel like I was ready to. And Jacque and I over Valentine's Day this year, 2020 before COVID.

Jason Nickola

Way back when.

Jacque Blanchard

Only like a few weeks before COVID.

Jason Blanchard

Yeah, we're sitting there and she just looked at me. She's like, why haven't you written a book? Why haven't you done something? Why haven't you done the thing that you say you want to do? And I was like I'm scared. It was the first time I was like, I am scared to do it. And it was the next day. She's like, what if I did it with you? And I was like, hmm. Okay. So now we do it.

Jason Nickola

That's cool. It's cool to hear, like, you obviously have all of these different things that you want to do and you're holding yourself back from doing it. And I'll give a talk a few more times and refine it. And maybe I'll come up with 20 blog posts, and I'll turn that into a book and then I'll do a live stream when I feel like I've done these other things and she's just like, let's just do it together and you're like, okay. It's nice to have somebody that you can kind of just skip ahead all of that extra stuff that you feel like you need to do prepare, because they've got your back so that's pretty cool.

Jason Blanchard

Yeah, it's almost - Jacque has this really good point in the live streams and she can talk about it if she wants to pick it up.

Jacque Blanchard

I do have a good point?

Jason Blanchard

You have so many good points.

Jacque Blanchard

Okay, great.

Jason Blanchard

It's the write down what you think is important, what are you looking for in a job?

Jacque Blanchard

Oh yeah, cause my mentor gave me that. That was one of my mentors.

Jason Blanchard

What exactly is it?

Jacque Blanchard

I will say I've been very fortunate to have the most amazing mentors throughout my career, all the way from technical mentors to business mentors and one of my mentors, when I was looking at a pivot in my career going from one area cyber to a different area, he essentially had me write down everything that was important to me in my next position. That was - I mean salary could have been an item, but he wanted to know, like, was travel or not traveling important, was work-life balance, was training, all of that. And so we've definitely encouraged other folks to make those lists. I'm encouraged my mentees to make this list and it just really helps to focus on the things that are priorities for them so that they're not making a decision purely based on emotion. But they're able to go back to that list and be able to check off the boxes and see what matters when job shopping.

Jason Blanchard

Yeah. And for me, one of the cool things was she said, let me tell you my list. And as she told me the list, I got a chance to see what she was looking for. And I think some people miss that when they're job hunting, like they have a significant other, they have a partner, they have people in their lives, and they just keep that list to themselves.

Jacque Blanchard

My mentor told me to share it with you.

Jason Blanchard

And, you know, if she wouldn't have asked me that question that night, like, why didn't you do this? And if I wasn't honest, and didn't say because I'm scared, then she wouldn't have been able to say, well, you know, let me do that. I think there's a lot of people out there that are scared, and they're not telling anybody, and they're not sharing their list. And there's someone that they could share it with that could help encourage them. And that's what we try to do on a live stream, like we might be that person for them.

Jason Nickola

Sure. Yeah, even just in sharing that you were scared, right now you're the guy that people are going to learn how to get their dream job, or the reality of how things are now, just to get any job, right. And I think it's really comforting, especially for me if I think through some of my history to hear that there are people you know and respect and look up to that are struggling with some things and open about it. It's like okay, maybe it's okay for me to be honest about some of those struggles too, and try to go get help from people. If Jason Blanchard can be scared, then I can certainly be scared.

Jason Blanchard

I think it was like the fourth live stream that we were doing and work-life was not great right before we launched, and Jacque was in the kitchen making some food trying to concentrate and this isn't me blaming you for anything. But all of a sudden, I started to panic internally as people asked me questions. And they're like, I'm currently out of work and I was like, oh no, I don't think I can do this.

Jacque Blanchard

Jason had a massive panic attack in the middle of the stream.

Jason Blanchard

And it's a video, so -

Jacque Blanchard

He literally was like, I'll be right. I'll be right back.

Jason Blanchard

I'll be right back. And I walked over and I just [deep breath] okay, okay.

Jacque Blanchard

How long did you sit there for, five minutes?

Jason Blanchard

It was good five minutes. And then I went back and some people stuck around and we did some really cool stuff that night. One of the people that was in the livestream is a professional social engineer. And that's the job that they do. And I said, have you ever applied that to job hunting? And you could almost be like -

Jason Nickola

Why didn't I think of that?

Jacque Blanchard

Why did I not think of that?

Jason Nickola

That's really cool. So there was a social engineer on one of them, but generally what kinds of people have been coming to these live streams?

Jason Blanchard

We run the gamut of people who are getting ready to graduate. And one of our favorites is the people who are in college who just showed up because someone said, hey, check this out, or they found it through Twitter or something. And they go, is it too soon to start job hunting?

Jacque Blanchard

No.

Jason Blanchard

And what we're trying to teach people is that it's not about job hunting when you're out of a job. It's about a continuous job hunt. And so that way, you go write your resume when you get laid off. You don't start preparing when you're out of a job. So for those people in college, some of the advice we give them is go volunteer at your local BSides or go volunteer at a local meetup group.

Jacque Blanchard

And for the career professionals, we let them know to always be a free agent. Always keep your resume updated. Always be willing to take a phone call or a cup of coffee. That's another thing one of my mentors taught me.

Jason Nickola

I think I need to meet your mentors.

Jacque Blanchard

I am telling you they're amazing.

Jason Nickola

Sounds like it. Some of the most successful people I know that are firmly entrenched in their current roles and have zero percent chance of going anywhere in the near term still actively interview. Because why not? Especially if you're a hiring manager, then it helps you do your job. But even just beyond that, like, what's your value? What's your worth, and keep your skills up in case something does happen. Because you never really do know. So yeah, always. I couldn't agree more - always work on your craft of finding your next role if you need one. Then that way if disaster strikes, and you do need one, you're not caught flat footed.

Jacque Blanchard

Yeah. And you get to meet other people. So same token, while you're interviewing with these roles that you may never take, these are now people that will become part of your network. Yeah. And they're then friends and you stay in contact with them. It's growing the network. It's a shrewd and smart thing to do.

Jason Nickola

So, in terms of the overall strategy that you're communicating to others who are actively job hunting, can you break that down a little bit for us? What's some of the finer points of what you're offering to people for a strategy?

Jason Blanchard

Sure. So step one is to make that list, like if you are just saying what is available in my area, you may get a job. But six months later, you may hate that job, because it's nothing that you wanted to do. So at least make a list of what you require from what you're looking for in a position. Now, you may find an organization that has one of those things on it, and you're like, it's better than none. Or you might find and decide I'm going to wait until I find something that fits more of what I'm looking for. Step two is to start hunting. So we encourage people not to build your resume, don't work on your LinkedIn profile until you start hunting. Because until you start hunting, you don't know what people are looking for. And I don't know about you, but looking at a blank sheet of paper and trying to figure out all the things I know how to do, or all the things I've done. That doesn't sound exciting to me.

Jason Nickola

Step one, make a list. Always put that first. And then you just sit and look at it until you can figure out what to write next.

Jacque Blanchard

Yeah. And then check the list with someone that you trust. But it's like systems engineering, right? You got to write your requirements. What are your requirements?

Jason Blanchard

So one of the things Jacque does is that she has a scheduled -

Jacque Blanchard

To update my resume?

Jason Blanchard

Reminder to update your resume.

Jacque Blanchard

Hey, I finished your sentence for you. Nailed it.

Jason Blanchard

Thanks. So even though she is not moving anywhere, she's not going anywhere, she has a scheduled reminder to update a resume and it's really smart. Because are you going to remember what you did 10 years ago? There's some people who are getting laid off or furloughed, who have been in a position for 10 years and now they have to figure out, okay, what do I know how to do?

Jacque Blanchard

Every six months, I update that puppy.

Jason Nickola

And if you're at an organization that does regular reviews, or one on ones or something like that, those are - actually I've heard this from your live stream, and I agree with it - those are great opportunities to just jot down some notes, what was positive, what went well, what did you work on this period, what projects have you completed? If you have metrics that you're trying to meet, record those because, at least in my experience, when you're interviewing, if you can point to specific numbers that you helped to move the needle on, and you can walk back through how you did that, that's what they're looking for. They want to bring in people that can help them move their key metrics, right? So if you can ever line those things up, you're in pretty good shape.

Jacque Blanchard

Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Jason Blanchard

Yeah. So while you're hunting, you're developing your resume, you're developing your LinkedIn profile, you're putting all that stuff together. And I believe people should have two resumes. One is a catch-all resume. And that is everything you've done. And so when you are hunting, you come across a bullet point that someone else has written, saying, here, we're looking for this and you go, well, I know how to do that. Then copy and paste that onto your catch-all document. That's a skill I have. I'm gonna grab that one. I'm gonna grab that one. I'm gonna grab that one. Wait, I don't have that. So I'm just gonna leave that there. So while you're hunting, you can start building this catch-all document. And then what that catch-all document is good for is that when it's time to apply to an actual position that you want, tailor a new resume to that actual job posting. Because what some people will do is they'll have this one page document. And they're like, these are things I know. And it's not necessarily what they're looking for. And so those two things don't go together. Or they have this massive catch-all document, like here's my eight page resume, right?

Jacque Blanchard

Are you making fun of me?

Jason Blanchard

I'm not making fun of you. She has a massive, massive resume.

Jason Nickola

But she's not looking. So she only has the catch-all resume.

Jason Blanchard

She does, it's totally catch-all. So some people have this catch-all that they send in and now the hiring manager, the HR professional, has to try to figure out, does this person know these things, by trying to read through all this material. So step one is make a list. Step two is hunt. Step three is develop your materials. And step four is to seek an internal advocate. So an internal advocate is somebody inside of an organization that already works there, that's already in the department. Maybe they're an HR professional, maybe they're a hiring manager, but you use your own open source intelligence gathering. You use your own abilities to do reconnaissance. Recon that company. Find out who these people are. If that person's given a webcast, go watch it. Learn about them, find out what you can about this organization, find out what you can about the people inside the organization. And then reach out to them directly through LinkedIn or Twitter or wherever you can find them and say, Hi, I'm a human. I'm a human being that's applying for this job. And see, Jacque taught me this a long time ago, is that you can ask for an informal interview. And if you want to talk about -

Jacque Blanchard

Also something one of my mentors taught me.

Jason Nickola

Another point for the mentors.

Jacque Blanchard

I'm telling you, they helped me a lot along the way. One of the positions that - it's actually the position that moved us up to Maryland that I obtained with my company. So I went from a position in Florida to a position in Maryland. I was able to obtain that through an informal interview. So essentially, I completed some relevant training. I knew some folks that worked in that area and I just said, Hey, can I just come in and talk to you for 15 minutes and just see what's available? And that 15-minute conversation turned into a job offer. And there was no job posting, there was nothing like that. It was literally just a 15-minute conversation. The person was like, yes, hire her. Got an offer mid-December, start date first of January. We moved over Christmas and been Maryland ever since. But yeah, informational interviews or informal interviews are huge, because there's no pressure. There's no pressure for the candidate because it's not like you're walking in and you have to be all well-rehearsed and your guard's down a little bit. And then there's no pressure for the hiring managers that are just having a conversation with you. It's not like they have to pull in HR, a panel of folks and things like that. And so it's just it's such an easier way for barriers to be broken down to folks just to get to know each other and, you know, see if the position would work or a position would work for that person.

Jason Nickola

Then on the hiring side, even if you love your job, there's so much monotony, right, there's so much expected continuum of this is what's gonna happen on a day to day basis. And for someone to go just slightly outside lines and say, I'm a person, I might be interested in what you guys are doing. I think there might be a match, can we just meet and talk? That sounds pretty appealing if you're just really used to the monotony of things like yeah, let's just meet and talk and network and see what happens. And if it goes well, then you have that internal advocate and somebody who can say we should put this person in for this role, rather than just being one of hundreds of applicants and just hoping that you're going to stand out. So I think that's fantastic advice.

Jason Blanchard

Yeah. And we also say it's not always going to work. Like it's not always going to work especially, we also go a step further in the reconnaissance phase to see if the person you're reaching out to is still somehow connected to the company. Because with the way the world is right now, you never know. And so just because you reach out to someone doesn't mean they're going to respond. But I feel like a lot of times people don't reach out because they don't feel like they're worth that other person's time. And I think that's where, this is a podcast about imposter syndrome, your imposter syndrome kicks in says, why would this person talk to me, right? And I firmly believe, introduce yourself and allow them to make a choice if they're going to talk or not, but don't -

Jacque Blanchard

Don't decide that for them. Like you're taking their decision away from them and depriving them from meeting you.

Jason Nickola

Right? And if you look at that more internally, don't deprive yourself of opportunities by deciding what the outcome is. That applies to so many people in so many different circumstances where it's like, eh, they're probably not going to talk to me or I'm probably not going to get that job or I'm probably not going to be able to do this or whatever it ends up being. In my own life and just people that that you see out in the world, it's so easy to decide what the outcome is going to be, and have that be a negative outcome for you. And it just default to nothing. So yeah, I think it's great advice, just reach out and if they're gonna ignore you, great, then it's just like if you deprived yourself of it in the first place, but if they respond, like they probably will, then good things can happen.

Jason Blanchard

Yeah. And do it in a respectful kind way with no expectations of response. But because we do these live streams and every once in a while you just like, you know, I don't remember saying that but I see how you're interpreting it right now.

Jason Nickola

So are there common mistakes that you see a lot of people make in this process? So you gave us a four step process of what to do. Are there things that you see the average person doing that they should avoid?

Jason Blanchard

I think what we see are the people who give up. Because it's not easy. And it's not you're going to have your dream job next week, or next month. And if you are now just getting started, and you didn't start four years ago, developing your network, reaching out, finding mentors. Like if you didn't do that already, and you're just starting now, it's going to be a process. And so, for what we've seen, it's like the gym. You go the first day, you start working out, you realize it's hard and then you don't go anymore.

Jacque Blanchard

You've got no muscles after that.

Jason Blanchard

Yeah, you got no muscles.

Jacque Blanchard

Can't go one day and expect to be swole.

Jason Blanchard

If you treat unemployment or if you treat furlough or if you treat job hunting like it's your job, and you wake up in the morning, get dressed, you go and you sit down, and you take all the things that you're really good at. Like if you're good at project management, then project manage your job hunt. Use the thing that you're already good at at work in the job hunt. Like all of a sudden, when people like lose their job or something, it's like they forget they have any skills whatsoever, right? And they're like, well I don't know how to job hunt. I'm like, no, you know how to do a job.

Jacque Blanchard

So you don't always want to say, well, if there's not an opportunity, then I'm not even going to try. I do like to mention when we moved to a different area in Florida, and you were just out of the military, and we moved, I didn't have a job, and he was going to go to school. And what I did was open up the phone book because they had phone books back then - we won't talk about how old we are. I opened up the phone book, literally to the computer section, and I started cold calling every single business and I would give them a sales pitch, even on their voicemail of who I was, why they should hire me and why they need me in their organization. I definitely got some callbacks, you know, but I had a lot of people who didn't, they just they weren't interested. And so, like Jason said, you have to treat it like a job. You have to put yourself out there, you have to expect people to reject you, because that's gonna happen. But you don't have to wait for the opportunities. You can make your own opportunities. You 100% can go find them and make them on your own.

Jason Nickola

Sure. Even like you're saying, if there isn't a job posting, if you think there's somewhere that you want to work, then it's just like, actually a lot of the process you guys have been describing works up to a certain point for attacking an organization like pen testing and things like that. But it also works for just sales, right? I know a lot of salespeople who go about their jobs in the way that both of you are describing, going about job hunting, it's just that the end result of what you're doing obviously ends up being a little bit different. But even if there's not a job where you go find those places that you want to work, and make contacts, and maybe there's not a job posting now, but there might be in the near future, or maybe they just might say, we could hire someone and this person seems great. Let's take a shot, right?

Jacque Blanchard.

Yep.

Jason Nickola

So can you share some success stories so far? Are there people who have joined in on your live streams that have shared you know, their success and journeys and been able to get jobs?

Jason Blanchard

Yeah, so it's been about three months so far, and we're doing it twice a week. And we've had four confirmed jobs for people who came. They listened, they applied the techniques, the principles. And I feel like anyone's gonna make it their own. You're gonna hear what we talk about, you're gonna make some adjustments for what feels right for you. But they've applied, they've gotten jobs and the recent one, and we only know people by their usernames.

So the most recent one was Myrtle the turtle. And Myrtle, he went through the whole process, he reached out on LinkedIn, but went through the process and got to the point where he had two interviews. So he came back to livestream and said, I have two interviews, now what? And we talked about, if you get an offer, do you negotiate even if it's the one you want? And we talked through all that. And the first guy, Dusty. Dusty was the very first person on the first live stream and I didn't know if any of this was going to work, but Dusty that just kept showing up, and all of a sudden a couple weeks later Dusty's like, I got a job! And I'm like, holy cow, holy cow, it works!

But Dusty, same thing, he came back and he's like, they offered me this and I was like, are you gonna negotiate? He's like, should I? Absolutely. And he negotiated and he did not get extra money, but he got extra days off. So, you know, when you're going through the process, it's not always about money. There's other things you negotiate for.

Jason Nickola

Well, it comes back to that list that you said in step one, right? If you know what's important, and you know, I was gonna say flexibility working in and out of the office, but I don't think anyone has to negotiate for that anymore. Yeah, maybe it's days off or maybe it'stravel time or maybe it's certain benefits or maybe it's pay, but it's hard to go into that negotiation if you don't know what you're willing to trade off on and what you're not.

Jason Blanchard

Yeah, and a lot of people are afraid to negotiate, cause they got the offer, and if I don't take what they are giving me, then they're just gonna pick the other person. Well, maybe, but -

Jacque Blanchard

Likely not.

Jason Blanchard

Likely not.

Jacque Blanchard

They're gonna counter you.

Jason Blanchard

You know, one of my favorite things I've been asking people to negotiate for recently is two hours a week of R&D time. Two hours that you get to sanction as my time to do whatever I want for those two hours to research and develop.

Jacque Blanchard

Where was that suggestion when I did my last position? Come on, Jason.

Jason Blanchard

It's new.

Jason Nickola

He wasn't doing the stream yet. You join the stream on the other side.

Jason Blanchard

So it's been cool too seeing the other people help the other people in the live stream. So the people who've made it further, or at least just the encouragement. We have one guy, his username is PSupreme. And it's a really long name, so he's like just call me PSupreme here. But we did a job hunt for him with Riot Games. And we just reconnaissanced the entire - we found every single person you could possibly find at Riot Games. And he applied. And then about two weeks later he said Jason, no one got back to me. And then he showed up on the livestream a couple days later. He's like, I got an interview with Riot Games tomorrow. And so he made it through that interview. And then he had another one with the hiring manager about a week later. So then he showed up to livestream after the hiring manager interview. And he's like, I don't know if that one went as well. And we got a chance to talk about what happens if the interview doesn't go as well as you think it does, and how that's not necessarily the end of your process.

Jacque Blanchard

He learned from it. I learned from all my failed interviews.

Jason Blanchard

Seeing the success is one of the reasons we keep showing up, right? Because if I guess if after three months, there was no one who got a job...

Jacque Blanchard

We would keep going, cause that's what you do.

Jason Blanchard

That is what we do, right? In fact, when this all kicked off, I committed to two years. Two years of showing up every single week, because I knew if I didn't commit to long term, at some point, I would hit what's called the dip. I highly recommend everyone listening or reading the book called The Dip by Seth Godin. It's the best books about deciding should you keep going or should you give up, and there's something that talks about strategic quitting. And sometimes you have to quit things that aren't getting you where you need to go. So that you can do the things that will get you where you need to go because not everything you do is worth doing. So it's a great book on strategic quitting. So I knew at some point, this live stream would hit a dip. And so I was proactive and said, let's do it for two years. Show up regardless, every single week, and see what happens.

Jason Nickola

So before you started doing this, you're sitting at the table and Jacque's saying, why are you being a bum and not doing the things you want to do. And you said because you're fearful. Looking back now, three months in, are you glad you did it? Are you still scared of doing it? Do you have some skills in this area? How do you feel about it now?

Jason Blanchard

I'm glad I did it. If one person found a job, it was worth the investment. I am still scared. There are times where I'm giving out advice and someone will have a special use case, and I don't know what to do for them. Most of the time we can figure out something. I work in marketing so I can spin most anything into a positive.

Jacque Blanchard

And we do have Google too.

Jason Blanchard

And there's Google.

I was doing one live stream where somebody wanted to work at a certain company, and for an hour and fifteen minutes I found no leads, and I was like, so I guess you're all getting a chance to see what it's like when it doesn't work.

Jason Nickola

It's so funny you mentioned somebody having a specific question or use case that even if you're a few months into it someone can trip you up with something you haven't thought of before. It immediately makes me think of being in front of a classroom and having to teach students who are some of the smartest people in the world about security and someone always says, well what about this specific technology that you've never heard of and I want an answer now. So no matter how much experience you get at it, you have to get to a point where you are not trying to pretend that you know it all but are actually being your authentic self and saying there's some things that I know and I'm here to share it, but the vast majority of things fall outside of what I can actually educate you on. And the ability to go find it or move someone forward through Google research is really, really valuable.

Jason Blanchard

What's nice is that I can help anybody job hunt. Any industry, any job, it's all the same techniques. But if anybody has infosec specific questions, like what about this or this. I'm like, Jacque, how do you feel? Somebody the other day was looking for information assurance type stuff and I don't know anything about that. And the person was using all these acronyms and I was like should you be using those acronyms? And Jacque's like, yes, Jason. Use those acronyms.

Jacque Blanchard

Those are fine.

Jason Blanchard

So it's nice having her, especially when it's an infosec related question cause I don't have those answers.

Jason Nickola

Well, this has been really, really enjoyable. Thank you both so much for joining us.

Jason Blanchard

Thanks for having us.

Jacque Blanchard

Yeah, thanks for having us.

Jason Nickola

And keep doing what you're doing. I appreciate it.

Jason Blanchard

Awesome. Thanks, Jason.

Jacque Blanchard

Thanks, Jason.

Jason Nickola

Thanks to Jacque and Jason Blanchard for joining us on the show and for all of the great work they're doing trying to help people find jobs. You can find their stream at twitch.tv/banjocrashland. Thanks to all of you for joining us. Please do subscribe at giac.org/podcasts or wherever you listen so you can hear about new episodes as they drop. We will be back in two weeks with Jessica Hyde. Thanks and see you soon.

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