Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Cultural issues

A new computer forensics graduate we placed almost three months ago was last week told that he hadn't passed his probation at a major consulting firm.

The Company has been excellent about it - as you would expect from a global market leader -  and his manager spoke very highly about his ability but it just wasn't quite the right fit at this time.  However, of course it feels like the end of the world for the person who has been released and right now a million miles away from the autumn day he moved to London with high hopes of a fantastic forensics career.

The reality is that this sort of experience can often be a blessing, although at the time it can feel like the end of the world.  In my recruitment career I have seen so many people leave a role feeling disconsolate and certain that they will never be a success wherever they go - and they were absolutely right!!  Not really, just a little joke...of course that isn't the case at all  - well, except in very rare examples - and I am a great believer in different people fitting into different cultures, even in a discipline as technical as computer forensics.  Many of these people have gone on to develop outstanding careers within forensics with a company where the culture is right for them.

In my experience, one of the most common examples of this is when somebody first leaves Law Enforcement for the private sector.  After a couple of months they know the position isn't right but they feel they can't move on so soon as it almost feels like failure.  Almost always, they do leave and then settle into the next organisation for a long period of time.  It is like personal relationships in a way where after the breakdown of a long relationship there can be a period of experimentation before forming another serious relationship  - oh dear, am I of all people really using a relationship analogy?  Time to end the post I think before I start to move on to other areas I have no idea about - it could be fashion next!

Anyway, if you do leave your position whether due to your own choice or otherwise, please do try to see it as an opportunity, however bleak it can feel at the time.  I would love to hear your stories of how a move that felt terrible at the time turned out to be fantastic for your career....


  1. Speaking as a recent graduate (MSc Forensic Computing and Security), I certainly envy this person for at least having had 3 months experience with (what sounds like) a highly reputable organisation. I can understand why he feels low now, but experience is experience and I imagine with a positive spin in his next application/interview it could help secure the job.

    In response to your closing request, here’s my story. I was forced to accept redundancy following office closures in 2009 after 9 years of service to the company, which at the time felt like being thrown into the unknown. I immediately set about looking for another job in the same field (application support) because, well, what else could I do?

    During the job searching I came to realise that I didn’t want another support role, it didn’t interest me anymore. In fact, if I was honest, it hadn’t interested me for a long time; I just did it because the pay was good, changing jobs is difficult and daunting and again, what else could I do?

    So I went from changing jobs to changing careers. I was happy staying in IT, I wasn’t going to become a chef or a vet, so I looked around at what IT jobs were out there that a) I could realistically do, and b) I WANTED to do.

    I took the redundancy money and paid for a Masters course in something that genuinely interested me: computer forensics. Having now completed it, I can honestly say it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. It’s not just the forensic training I can now list on my CV, it’s all the skills you need to complete a Masters– time management, juggling huge workloads, independent learning, etc.

    So in summary, what started out as a dark time in 2009 turned out to be a great opportunity, one I most likely would never have found on my own. Sometimes you need a push, even when you really don’t think you do. The next step is securing a job or gaining some real-life work experience, which I know isn’t going to be a walk in the park, but I’d much rather be here than where I was.

  2. Hi Lee,

    Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences. Sometimes I think the most important thing in a job search (assuming you do the basics correctly like ensuring your CV is excellent and you contact the right people directly)is just to be in the right place at the right time and get lucky! Let me know how you get on.