Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Covering All Bases

Sometimes it is all about covering all bases: combining the best of the old, traditional thinking with new techniques and ideas.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in the exciting, high-octane, rock 'n' roll world of the Liberal Democrats (for example, if you haven't seen it, look at Lembit Opik's brief but excruciating Citizen Smith influenced video)....or in recruitment.

I will try to demonstrate this by referencing an interesting thread on Forensic Focus this last week or so where a forensics undergraduate is looking for an industrial placement.  The link is here.

Speaking to computer forensic undergraduates at Universities, it is clear that whereas some Universities offer outstanding guidance on this subject, other students still have no guidance at all.  Due to this clear knowledge gap, I wrote an article last year exploring the techniques needed to find an industrial placement which can be found here.

In response to the thread, the Forensic Focus community has been very generous with advice and offered some really useful information (although some points, as usual, would arguably only have been useful before 1964).  A couple of salient points really struck me from the discussion:

1, The ‘best’ jobs/placements don’t go the the ‘best’ people.

Of course, the really talented students tend to get snapped up pretty quickly by major organisations.  However, in my view, despite the surplus of graduates for the limited jobs available in the area, students should be able to secure a placement/role if they are thorough and professional in their approach to jobseeking.  Why?  In my view, quite simply, most jobseekers are so haphazard in their approach to finding a role that if you are thorough and persistent this gives you a massive advantage.  This is even more apparent at graduate level.

I won’t go through all the basics again, but I am constantly amazed when graduate jobseekers only approach a handful of companies.  Surely, it is just common sense to ensure you cover every single organisation with a forensics presence in the UK?  It is then all about contacting the correct person in the right way – i.e., calling/sending an excellent CV to the most senior person you can find in any company.  In 2011 with all the information publically available, it isn't difficult to locate organisations and people operating in the sector.

This isn’t just a problem at graduate level.  If you think you are an exceptional candidate to work at a company why would you just email your CV to an HR person along with all the other applicants?  Does this demonstrate your qualities for the position above others?  Surely, the key is to take control and speak to the Hiring Manager to stand out from the crowd or if the role is via a recruiter ensure at the very least you meet the recruiter so that they are able to represent you in the best possible manner?

2, Social Media

Even in niche areas like computer forensics/electronic disclosure every aspect of finding a new job is changing.  If you think I am exaggerating the massive changes occurring, take a look at some of the companies at the leading edge of developments in this area such as

Some people in my sectors certainly 'get it' but most jobseekers – whether active or passive – just aren’t utilising social media anywhere near enough.   Being lucky enough to see a job advert for a dream role on some job board/forum is fantastic.  However, how many times has one of your peers secured a role that you had no idea even existed?  How do you they gain access to these roles? The answer, as usual, is surprisingly simple.  Recruiters – whether working directly for an organisation or external (like me) -  increasingly use social media to find people with the skills/experience needed by employers.  Make yourself easy to find!

When all the superfluous is stripped away, the basic rule in looking for a new role is to make it clear to your target audience that you are potentially interested in opportunities.  If you are actively looking for a new role at this time, are you covering the 'old skool' basics thoroughly whilst also utilising new the opportunities presented by social media? 

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