Monday, 28 February 2011

Post-Interview Strategy

So, you didn’t get the job.
Sometimes this is a relief, of course, as it is often only when you meet the people who work for an organisation that you get the real feel of company culture.  I spend a lot of time in different forensics/edisclosure companies and although they carry out the same work as other organisations in the sector, that is often where the similarity ends.
Have you ever had that experience when you walk into a room and know that you just don’t fit in – oh...just me then!?  You know what I mean, the feeling Nick Clegg must have whenever he is invited to a gathering of politicians with convictions and policies.  Well, if you are not happy in an organisational culture then that organisation just isn’t going to make you happy and you won’t stay.
But at this interview you felt that the culture was right and the job was an incredibly exciting opportunity.  When you were told you had been unsuccessful what was your initial reaction:
  • Burn down the building? 
  • Machete attack on the misguided Hiring Manager? 
Understandable and we have all done both – just a little unfunny joke, of course - but long-term there are probably a few minor repercussions.
Instead, why not send the Hiring Manager an email expressing your disappointment at this result but emphasising your continuing interest in joining the Team if the opportunity arises.  Reinforce this action by sending the Manager a LinkedIn request and following them on twitter so that if a vacancy does occur in the Team you are likely to know about it!
I have seen numerous people who were initially unsuccessful at interview end up working for the company – on more than one occasion replacing the Hiring Manager!  It is all about reacting to disappointment in the way that makes ‘them’ realise that it was a mistake not to recruit you and making it easy to hire you next time. 
Essentially, this strategy is back to the basics I have mentioned in this blog so many times - make people like you and then you stand a much better chance of being offered the role.
Of course, if they have the nerve to reject you a second time it then starts getting personal,  but that never happens: does it??

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Personal Branding in Bristol

Tell me about your online personal brand.  What do you mean you haven't thought about it?

Try Googling your name and see what happens. Now consider that others (prospective employers for instance) do the same. Are you happy with what they see?

When you are looking for a new job, you need to give thought to your personal brand.  Make no mistake that employers and recruiters in this area are very interested in your online brand to get a much better idea about you than the one dimensional basics that can be gleaned from a CV.

You need to be clear whether your brand is personal, social or academic – this depends on what you are trying to sell?  What do you want to be known for: what is your tag?  You need to be aware that everything you ever post online can be found and so everything you ever publish must be looked at in terms of your brand.

There are companies that specialise in developing online personal brands or rectifying negative ones.  I suppose this concept isn't new and has been alive for a long time in Hollywood where movie stars and their agents closely protect and develop their brand.

This is one of the points I discussed yesterday with students at the University of the West of England in Bristol.  For graduates, I strongly suggest that a blog is a very good idea for promoting a brand.  Using this blog to critique text books etc provides students with a great opportunity to build a strong online brand.

Despite suffering from man-flu, I had a lot of fun yesterday at Bristol.

This is one of my favourite Universities where I always feel incredibly welcome.   It is the first University I ever spoke at after being approached maybe six years ago by Programme Leader, Julian Webb.  Along with his colleague, Toby O'hara, Julian is always extremely enthusuastic and willing to do whatever is needed to give his students every advantage.  The course has a very good reputation and has produced some excellent graduates - many of whom we have been fortunate enough to place at various organisations. 

As usual, my message was based around the fact that the best people don't get the best jobs in an area as competitive as computer forensics.  The key to success is:

  • Ensure your CV is in excellent shape (and free of spelling errors);
  • Think carefully about your personal brand and online footprint;
  • Utilise Linkedin and other social media to build your network and promote your brand;
  • Make contact with the correct people in the correct way about specific or speculative roles;
  • Be persistent;
  • Get lucky!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Unconference - day one

Today, I have been at my first recruiting unconference in London.  It has been really exciting and we have two more days to go!   If you haven't been to an unconference before, essentially, the rules are as follows:

  • No Powerpoint (no more sitting through a really dull presentation zzzzzzzzzz)
  • No Dress Code (feel comfortable)
  • No Name Badges (avoid those people who check your badge and only speak to you if you are 'worthy')
  • No Pitching (Hurrah)
  • No Presentations (A quick introduction and then the discussion is opened to the delegates - great)
  • Freedom to move (If the stream isn't as you had hoped, you are free to move)
  • Limited numbers (Only 100 spaces so everyone can be heard)

    What this means is that rather than have a long presentation followed by a few questions the sessions incorporate a brief overview followed by lots of questions.  This ensures that there is plenty of time for genuinely in depth, challenging discussions about what we all really want to know!  I will write about the issues raised over the next few weeks but there was one particularly interesting discussion today which I will share right now.

    The rather impressive marketing manager from a major job board provided some interesting stats showing that jobseekers still much prefer using job boards to social media as, essentially, we like to use quick and easy routes to finding a new job rather than social media where jobseekers need to be proactive.  

    The major point I took from this presentation was the rise of the smartphone in searching for a new role - this particular job board has seen site visits from mobile devices rise 200% from January 2010 - January 2011.  Interestingly, whereas the normal peaks for looking at job boards via computers is 11am - 12 (midday) on smartphones there are also peaks during the morning and afternoon commuting periods and at around 10pm.

    However, the quite brilliant Kevin Wheeler doesn't agree that job boards or CV's have any future in recruitment - his view is that very soon social media is the only way that jobseekers will find new roles (as regular readers of this blog will know I share these views).  Interestingly, he also believes that there is no future for internal recruiters and that external recruiters can only survive by taking a more strategic stance and providing Hiring Managers with the tools necessary to carry out tactical recruitment.

    Kevin also has some interesting views about the future of the interview which numerous studies have shown is a terrible predictor of career success.  In the computer forensics area organisations such as the security services in the UK use scenarios for assessment and Kevin thinks that this is the future.  He believes that finally this whole area is going to become much more scientific.

    When people disagreed with his points, Kevin gave a wonderful analogy using Henry Ford.  Back in the early days of the motor car he said that people loved their horses, felt they were a much better way of travelling than the motor car and they would keep on using their horses!  If they had been interviewed for a focus group their views weren't wrong -  but Ford was just more right!            

    Monday, 14 February 2011

    Rise of the smartphone

    In his latest excellent blog posting, Eric Huber talks about the emergence of smartphones.  Eric is always interesting to read, but in particular, the following paragraph caught my attention:
    "This past week I learned that a research group has reported that smart phones are outselling personal computers. It’s further confirmation to me that we’ve moved out of the era of computer forensics and into era of digital forensics. Computer forensics, of course, will continue to play an important part of what we do as a community, but the mobile device era is firmly and undeniably in place. Every now and again I still see examiners comment on some of the digital forensics list servs how they hate working on phones. I have to restrain myself from asking how they feel about obsolescence."
    This made me reflect how I have always been puzzled by the attitude to mobile forensics within the community.

    Since I have been recruiting in the forensics area I have always been a little confused at the disparity in salaries between computer forensic analysts and those people specialising in mobile phones.

    It is undoubtedly the case that computer forensic specialists earn significantly more - in fact, about six months ago I had an interesting conversation with a Mobile Forensics Team Leader who took home a lower salary than any of the computer forensics analysts in his organisation.  Based on my experience, I would be astonished if any mobile forensic analyst here in the UK earns more than £40k.  Putting this in context, a computer forensic graduate with no experience can start on a basic salary of £30k.

    Last week I spoke to a really bright, ambitious mobile analyst with over three years experience who wanted to move into computer forensics as he saw no career progression opportunities within the mobile area.  His concern was that he may have to take an entry-level position if he did this which seems ludicrous with all the excellent experience he has gained.

    As the smartphones continue to dominate will the situation be reversed by 2014 with computer forensic analysts seen as the poor relations?  If so, will salaries and career opportunities reflect this shift?

    Saturday, 12 February 2011

    One day like this....

    Yesterday was a bit of a comedy day for me.

    Everything went wrong in the morning.  Two people pulled out of interviews for next week, an offer came through which was very disappointing and won't be accepted (how can this happen when we have discussed and agreed figures endlessly?) , nearly everyone I tried to call was busy - or avoiding my call (surely not?!) and, well, it just wasn't going my way.

    As I have put in very long hours this week (for a recruiter, anyway), I thought there was no point battling life and so yesterday afternoon I went out sailing for the first time this year, taking my phone as I had a call booked at 4:00 with an important new Client.  At about 3.50pm my phone decided to lock and whatever I tried to solve the problem wasn't proving terribly successful.  This meant that I had to email this senior HR person to say that I couldn't make the call as I was stranded on a boat with no phone.

    Would you have believed that story?  Nor me. It reminds me of being about 13 when I tried to tell my maths teacher that I hadn't completed my homework as adding the book to my bag would have made the bag too heavy.  Joy unconfined.

    Today is already much better as I am entertaining at Twickenham as England build on their destruction of Wales last week - well, sort of - with a (hopefully) comfortable victory over Italy.  Much as I love Twickenham, I would have loved to have made it to Cardiff last week for the big game. I think the atmosphere at the Milennium Stadium is absolutely amazing, probably the best of any stadium I have visited.  Of course, being located just a stroll from the excellent bars and restaurants of Cardiff is never a bad place to be....

    Monday, 7 February 2011

    How much do you really want it?

    I had an interesting day at Fortress Elland Road (or as my friend Phil refers to it: The Theatre of Screams) on Saturday, watching The Mighty Leeds United overpower Coventry to record an emphatic 1-0 victory.  Whereas I usually take my place with my Leeds supporting pals in the Don Revie stand this weekend I changed seats and sat just by the dugouts.

    From this perspective I saw another side to our manager Simon ‘Larry’ Grayson (pictured) which really surprised me.  Me and Larry aren’t exactly best mates but I have seen him at numerous social events over the last couple of years and I have always been surprised at just how nice he is – certainly a really decent guy without the arrogance and edge of other professional managers I have met.  

    Sitting five feet away from him on Saturday I saw another side to the man.  Sure, he is committed and focussed but he is also incredibly hard, aggressive (in a good way) and completely in charge – the reaction of the players and staff left me in no doubt that he was fully in control and would accept no nonsense.

    Why am I telling you this?

    Well, except for the obvious opportunity to post a Leeds United related picture, last week I spoke to students at Sunderland and Teeside Universities.  As always, the students were very friendly, receptive and the vast majority were clearly incredibly bright and committed.  They would be an asset to any Forensics organisation.

    However, last week it also really hit me clearly why a lot of these students aren’t going to secure their dream roles.  They are just too nice and lack the focus and aggression needed in terms of securing a job.  Do you think I am being harsh?  I think not.

    Make no mistake that to secure your first role in this area you have to be aggressive and ruthless.  You are in direct competition with your fellow students for the very best jobs and there aren’t enough positions to go around.  When I talk in this way I reckon the students think I am talking nonsense  – hmmm, maybe on a broader level they have a point - and don’t really believe me when I tell them that the best jobs don’t go to the best people. 

    This isn’t fair but it is certainly true.  Some of the best Computer Forensics graduates from 2008 are still working in IT support.  The best jobs go to the people who have prepared in the most effective way to make themselves attractive to potential employers and then aggressively pursue opportunities.

    Simon ‘Larry’ Grayson wasn’t the best professional footballer.  However, watching him at work from such close quarters clearly demonstrates why he is a successful Manager and why he is a winner.   He is, frankly, desperate to win and utilises every ounce of his talent and every resource available to him to ensure he stands out from the crowd.

    Can you honestly say the same for your job search?

    Wednesday, 2 February 2011

    Getting started in Computer Forensics

    This week I head north for my annual visit to Sunderland and Teeside Universities.

    I really enjoy speaking with the computer forensics students about career opportunities and what the students need to do NOW to increase their chances of securing a role in this competitive area.

    One piece of advice I will certainly give them is to read the following post published this week on by 'Nathan':

    I first spoke to 'Nathan' maybe two years ago and his success is a clear example to everyone looking to break into this area that if you have the right attitude then everything is possible.

    Tuesday, 1 February 2011

    Job Boards are dead: long live the Job Board

    In a previous blog I mentioned that some have suggested that job boards are dying, or indeed dead.  I have been thinking about this some more this week, especially in my niche areas of recruitment.  We sometimes advertise on a variety of boards including Jobsite, Linkedin, Legal Technology Insider and Forensic Focus - with mixed results.

    We do sometimes find people via job boards but compared to, say, five years ago, only a tiny percentage of our people are sourced this way and our levels of advertising have certainly reduced considerably in the last couple of years as a result of this trend.

    My view is shifting towards thinking that the day of the job board is over.  Objectively, it is an incredibly haphazard and passive way of finding the very best people - who often are unlikley to be browsing the job boards anyway - and I think this form of recruitment is very much a case of finding the best person 'on' the market rather than the best person 'in' the market.

    With the growth of social media the best recruiters (whether external or in-house talent acquisition teams) with the most effective sourcing techniques should have no need to advertise - except for branding reasons - as the details of the right person for the job are now freely available.

    This poses an interesting challenge for the jobseeker.  In the new reality your challenge is, I would suggest, to use social media to make sure that you can be easily found for that 'perfect' opportunity even if you are not actively seeking a new role.   Are you doing this?  If so, how?

    There is, of course, another perspective.  One of my friends who works for a job board thinks that all of this is pure nonsense!  She says that useless recruiters are doing their best to destroy them with awful adverts - from the cut and pasted job specification (zzzz) to the dreaded, 'Our Client...' (sounds so 1950's), via lots of boring adverts filled with unimaginative text and bad grammar.  Hmmm, she does have a point.....

    I discussed this over dinner last weekend with a Computer Forensics Director and he reckons that this talk of social media is all very nice and fluffy (he almost choked on a giant prawn when I told him I was going to an unconference this month) but most people and companies aren't ready to move away from job boards - especially in my niches - and are genuinely puzzled by the business case for networking and social media.  Lets face it, at the majority of organisations in my area, most social media is blocked at work anyway.

    He tells me that most people in my sectors aren't looking for the perfect job, don't have time to network as they are too busy and that the only social media they are interested in is catching up with friends/family on Facebook and maybe a flirt with Linkedin or even Twitter until quicky they tire of it and get on with important stuff.

    I told him he is a dinosaur to which he replied,"David, this is the real world!"

    What do you think?