Monday, 25 April 2011

Sometimes, it is all about salary...

In reality, it is often all about salary, isn’t it?  

For all our talk about culture, professional challenge and other factors most of us need to earn a certain amount of money to feed our families, crack habits etc.

There was an interesting job advert thread on Forensic Focus recently.  The original advert is for a pure forensics role working for the Met Police in SE London paying about £40k (with allowances).

Some people on the forum, along with others I have discussed it with since – and whose opinions I respect -  feel that this salary is way too low for the skills/experience required.   I find it hard to agree.  During the last two years, unless it has been a Team Leader role I certainly can’t recall any pure forensics roles in the private or public sector paying much more than this salary, with the exception of the odd financial institution.  

When I speak to computer forensics professionals I sometimes think there is a lack of realism on the question of salary.  In the current market here in the UK, my experience is that salaries for computer forensics professionals are facing pretty strong downward pressures.  For example, I know one excellent analyst with over five years law enforcement experience combined with three years in the private sector who moved to another private sector company just this month for £38k.  Two years ago I reckon he could have been looking at a basic salary £8k-£10k higher.  

What do you need to do if you really need to significantly increase your salary?

Well, if this is how you feel then the options are quite simple – get promoted to a management role (easy huh!) or go and work in Electronic Disclosure where the salaries are considerably higher.   However, before you do either of these things, stop and think whether this is really what you want?  For example, if you talk to somebody about the reality of daily life as an ED Manager at Big Four as opposed to a pure forensics role at the Met Police I imagine you will hear that both the salary and career development is excellent, but the quality of work...well, it is certainly very different to a pure forensics role working for the Met Police....

I guess I am also a little bias as I have a really soft spot for the Met Police.  We have recruited for them in the past and almost every person I have met who works in their forensics team at Newlands Park has struck me as a thoroughly committed person doing an excellent job under difficult circumstances.   Moreover, the forensics professionals I speak to at the Met tend to love the work they do, manage to obtain excellent developmental training and speak very highly about the competency of their colleagues.  I reckon it sounds a pretty good place to work, don’t you?

However, as I said at the start of this blog, sometimes it really is all about salary.  Isn’t it?

Libby Baugher

When I speak to new graduates looking for their first position in the area I always advise them to start a blog to differentiate themselves and to showcase what they have to offer potential employers.  Libby Baugher graduated from Champlain College in 2010 with a degree in Computer Forensics and Digital Investigations and she has just started to write a very personal blog which is an excellent read.  Catch up with Libby's progress here:

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Under The Weather

Like me, do you suffer from sea sickness?

It has been said that when you are sea sick for the first hour you think you are going to die and for the rest of the time you wish you had died!  I remember a sailing race from Portsmouth to Cherbourg a few years ago when I was terribly sea sick and until this week that was the longest, most unpleasant time I can remember.  Well, along with a number of Nick Clegg speeches of course....

However, this week my flight home from Las Vegas was ten thousand times worse. All I will say is that a ten hour flight when suffering from severe food posioning is no fun either for you or for others on the plane.  Since arriving home I have even felt too unwell to work until this morning - which is most unlike me.

I will return to work-based blogs next week, but for now will conclude with a modern take on the old slogan that should be remembered by all visitors to Sin City:

'What happens in Vegas stays....on Facebook'.

Saturday, 9 April 2011


Events this week have made me reflect on the relationship of trust between a recruiter and jobseeker.

When I started in recruitment my manager made it clear to me that I was not able to tell a jobseeker the name of the company we were recruiting for as it would be easy for them to then just contact the company directly.  I always felt pretty uncomfortable – and a little ridiculous – following this policy and would tell somebody, for example, that the recruiting organisation was a ‘large bank near Liverpool Street’.

Forward-wind to 2011 and I am always 100% transparent about the name of the recruiting organisation.  Frankly, it is nonsense not to be as it is just as important to talk about cultural fit with any jobseeker before they commit to spending time attending an interview.  I certainly wouldn’t want a recruiter to represent me at an unknown organisation.

This week I spoke to a jobseeker about a new opportunity at company ‘x’.  The jobseeker knew somebody who worked at ‘company x’ but he wasn’t aware that they were recruiting at this time.  I then sent the jobseeker a full job description ahead of our discussion about the role and the next day they emailed to inform me that they had been contacted by ‘company x’ and invited to interview.  Ok, this could just be coincidence but I have my doubts.

I spend a lot of my time giving free advice on all aspects of recruitment in my sectors and am happy to do so as this builds long-term relationships.  However, as a recruiter the situation described above is just plain annoying as we make our living by finding people jobs.   At least in this particular scenario it isn’t as bad as the other two cases I have experienced in my recruitment career  where the jobseeker had no knowledge of the recruiting company and just sent them their CV after speaking to me!

The relationship between recruiter and some jobseekers is often a loose and transient one as not every jobseeker is interested in building a relationship with the recruiter.  It can be seen by some like a trip to a car showroom where the buyer just wants to buy a car and not become godfather to the children of the car salesperson!  Of course, I understand this view but even in the short-term the relationship can only work with trust on both sides.

Moving on.....

As readers of this blog will know I have supported Leeds United all my life.  This week was the eleventh anniversary of the tragic deaths of two Leeds supporters, Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight, who were stabbed in Turkey on 5 April 2000 ahead of the UEFA Cup semi-final against Galatasaray.  The fact it is the anniversary makes me even more bewildered to hear from my friends at the Millwall game today that some home supporters were waving Turkish flags.  Unbelievable.

Monday, 4 April 2011

A personal post

Despite being in the most exciting City in the world, Las Vegas, I have had a pretty bad 15 hours or so for a number of reasons.  In this more personal blog than usual I thought I would share how I am feeling at this time:

1, A very experienced Computer Forensics professional I have known for many years attended an interview which was a disaster.  Although the role was very senior, it transpired that the organisation still required much stronger hands-on knowledge than this person has and so it was a hopeless mismatch all around.  Nothing upsets me more as a recruiter than wasting someone’s valuable time and I feel particularly bad as this person is a friend.

2, I expected two job offers today but both were unsuccessful at the final stage.  When I broke the news to one chap he was devastated.  I think that sometimes we forget the emotional commitment a jobseeker puts into finding a new role and to be turned down late in the process from a job you really want can be heartbreaking.  

3, I can’t make contact with a line-manager who has interviewed three jobseekers in the last ten days or so.  Following on from the point above, I struggle with this aspect of recruitment as jobseekers are naturally anxious for feedback following an interview and surely a Line Manager has a duty to provide that information asap.  This makes us recruiters look pretty inefficient and more importantly, leaves the jobseeker completely in the dark.

4, On a more personal level, eighteen years ago this week my best friend at University, Nik Lynch, was killed whilst travelling in Brazil.  We met via the University Sailing Club and had travelled all over the country to sailing regattas enjoying some of the best times of my life.  Nik was always the life and soul of the party.

In April 1993 he was visiting Manaus, in the heart of the beautiful Amazon rainforest.  Having spent a perfect day swimming in the river and having fun with friends, later that evening he and two others went for drinks at a local bar. They were walking back to their hotel when they got caught in gunfire between armed robbers and security guards and Nik was shot in the head by a stray bullet.  He didn’t regain consciousness.  Nik Lynch was only 23 when he died.  I still think of Nik every day and often wonder what he would have done when I find myself in tricky situations.

Just before writing this blog I saw a moving blog post by Mervyn Dinnen about the very sad death of a multimedia expert, Fraser Maclennan, who carried out the filming at the Unconference I attended last month:

The premature deaths of Nik Lynch, Fraser Maclennan and others puts all our business problems in perspective.  Mervyn ends his post with the following which pretty well sums up how I feel today:
"Life is precarious, sometimes too fragile to be ignored. If ever I needed a reminder to seize the day and grab every opportunity to enjoy it then this weekend provided it. You never know what will happen next."