Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Going Beyond the Glossy

As someone who has spoken at a number of UK Universities during the last eight years and worked with numerous new forensic graduates, I was interested to see Eric Huber's thoughts about academic courses in the forensic area.

In his blog, Eric Huber uses the classic John Lydon line from January 1978, 'ever feel you've been cheated' to open his piece about the variable quality of Forensic academic courses.  Rather worryingly, Eric states that in his experience many Forensic students - even with masters degrees -  are:
"unfit for purpose for entry level positions much less for positions that require a senior skill level."
As a recruiter in this field, I have to agree with Eric.  In fact, there are some Employers I know who won't even consider interviewing students from certain Universities due to the perceived poor quality of the course.

Eric continues that the blame rarely lies with the students but with the people running the courses:
"It’s almost universal that programs who have professors who do not have a digital forensics background are turning out students who don’t understand digital forensics. This seems like an obvious and intuitive statement, but given how many digital forensics programs there are who are being lead and taught by unqualified people, it apparently isn’t obvious enough."
In the final paragraph of his blog, Eric concludes with some great advice:
"We are in a time where there are many fine academic programs available to aspiring digital forensics people who wish to learn digital forensics and launch successful careers. Unfortunately, there are more bad programs than good ones. It’s vital if you are going to spend the time and money getting an education that you don’t get cheated. It’s your life and your responsibility to look beyond the glossy promotional material and make sure you are trusting the right people to get you where you want to go."

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Don't sweat the small stuff? But then again.....

Last week Angus Marshall posted a very good blog aimed at students looking for work placements and pointing out the basic errors made by students.  As a specialist recruiter, I would say that most of the points pointed out by Angus also apply to jobseekers - and surprisingly, not just jobseekers looking for their first position.

Although it seems trivial, the primary issue for me is not addressing your email to the correct person.  I rarely bother to read an email which doesn't come to my direct email address and certainly won't take the time to open a CV attachment when the effort hasn't been made to find out my direct address.  Why rule yourself out of contention for a position for the sake of a tiny bit of research?

Some jobseekers go to amazing lengths effectively utilising social media and other rich sources and yet this is often a complete waste of time if you don't get the basics right.  Surely if you were searching for a placement/new position, you would never fall down on the simple stuff, would you?

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Good to be back!!!

After well over a year away from the world of recruitment working on, ahem, 'other projects' I have decided to return.  So many people have pleaded for a recruitment blog filled with wisdom, wit and insight - if you would like a link to that blog just ask me - that my blog is back.  It will be filled with the usual random thoughts about the reality of jobseeking, along with snippets of my outside life including, of course, the uninspiring plight of the Mighty Leeds United. 

Hello again to all those people I haven't spoken to for such a long time and I look forward to speaking soon.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Off Topic New Year Thoughts.....

Can I wish you all a Happy New Year when it gets to 12 January?   I recall last year someone wished me good luck for the new year in February which seemed a bit excessive.  It reminds me of those annoying salespeople - no, not like us recruiters, surely such a thought didn't cross your mind - who when they call you before Wednesday ask how your weekend was and after Wednesday ask you what you have planned for the following weekend.

So how has 2012 been so far?  My first Client presentation of the year didn't go so well.   Suffice to say that if children have access to your ipad please be aware that in the 'Smurf Village' application a notification can appear at any time telling you that your crops are ready for harvest.  At least I can guarantee I made an impression and they will always recall my presentation, even if the memory is accompanied by hysterical laughter....

Over the Christmas period I did finally discover the genius that is Jack Handey.  If you haven't read his humour I would certainly suggest a look and the following still makes me laugh out loud: 'To me clowns aren't funny.  In fact, they're kinda scary.  I've wondered where this started and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus and a clown killed my Dad'. 

Back to work matters in my next blog but for now I leave you with one of my favourite songs from the legend who incredibly turned 65 this week. 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Christmas Networking

It seems to be accepted wisdom that this time of year isn’t a great time to be looking for a new job as everything is shutting down for the Christmas period.

I have read numerous recruitment articles saying this isn’t the case....great opportunity to get ahead of others...process never stops...etc, etc  but I think this is pretty well nonsense.   Back in the real world, my view is that once the party season starts most Hiring Managers aren’t interested in too much formal recruitment, especially starting a new process if you aren’t already in the system.

So, off to the bar then for us all and a very Happy Christmas!!!  

As you may know, I am never one to argue against a trip to the bar but whilst there I do think this is a good time to actually do some informal networking.   I know, I know most of us who are more technical are put off by just the word ‘networking’ and would rather spend Christmas day with Edwina Currie!  Maybe I exaggerate a touch....

However, networking in this context is as simple as getting introduced to people from organisations you think could be of interest to you in the future for a five minute chat.  No mention of jobs or necessarily even work but just noting a name and making a contact that could be useful in the future.

This contact could be useful in many ways.  One of the most simple happens often and occurs when your department receives a job application and people are asked if they know the applicant.  If someone has just met you for three minutes at a Christmas party that could be the small edge that leads you to be invited to interview ahead of other applicants (and don't make the mistake of thinking that it is the 'best' people who get to interview stage, pure ability is usually way down the pecking order).  Sometimes it is these fine margins that are the difference between securing a great new position and another year of disillusionment.

Of course, when out partying, the most vital thing that you should always be aware of is that if you spot your favourite recruiter in the room their glass should always be refilled....Enjoy (hic)!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Gary Speed

It has been exactly a week since, in a state of disbelief, I heard of the tragic death of Gary Speed, apparently by hanging, at the age of just 42.

I don’t recall ever being as genuinely upset by the death of somebody I didn’t know personally but I think the real shock with his death is that on the outside it appeared that Gary had every reason to live.  
As a huge supporter of the Mighty Leeds United in the early 90’s when I attended most games Gary Speed - then at his peak in our midfield - was one of my real heroes for the way he played the game and, equally as importantly, the exemplary way he behaved off the field.  A really special man who was liked and respected by everyone.

RIP Gary Speed  (8 September 1969 - 27 November 2011)

The Samaritans can be contacted on:  08457 909090

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


I am staggered by many things, in fact, most things....but nothing bemuses me much more than unnecessary interview processes.

The process which always used to amuse me the most was Kent Police when they recruited forensic analysts.  To say it struck me as overkill is a complete understatement - suffice to say they had to hire half the office space in London just to cope with the masses invited for the initial assessment.  If successful in this task there were just another three hundred or so stages before a potential offer was made.  If you applied by age six you were potentially looking at starting work before retirement age along with the other ‘lucky’ applicants.

I am sure it was a thorough process (to say the very least) and to be fair, they did recruit some outstanding people, but was it really the best way to select candidates for a first role in forensics – or any role for that matter?  As you may just have gathered, I think it was way over the top and wasted the time of lots of people.  

However, recently I have seen an increase in never-ending processes for more senior people in both forensics and ED, including the dreaded panel interview.  Of course, for an important role you need to ensure you have found the person with the skills for the role blah, blah, blah.... but, surely, the key to the whole process is a frank discussion between hiring manager and jobseeker?

A jobseeker wants to work with people who really want to understand what they are all about and how they can contribute to the work that needs to be done.  This must mean that the main - and only genuinely significant - interview is a frank conversation between the hiring manager explaining the issues faced and the jobseeker explaining how they will successfully complete the work.

Anything else is purely padding, isn’t it?