Written by Joe Alonzo, Director of eDiscovery/Computer Forensics at Glenmont Group
You see the job advertisements posted on the web everyday, Digital Forensics Analyst, Internet Investigator, Computer Forensic Associate. You hit the Apply Now button, often never hearing back from said company.
Your background may consist of computer programming/IT, network security or possibly even a background in law enforcement. You ask yourself, “How do I get the attention of this organization and get them to hire me?”
Working for the leader in Computer Forensics and eDiscovery recruiting and seeing all the good and bad candidates have done, I can give you some great insight on how to get your dream job.
Below we will categorize computer forensics jobs in three areas, Big4, next level consultancies and major corporations. I will highlight some key facts on each industry, and offer great advice on how to get your dream job.
A great place to start your career and obtain corporate, consultative experience is within Big4. In the opinion of The Glenmont Group, Big4 is a better place to work earlier in your career, many recruiters (and candidates) would tend to agree. We cannot say which firm has the best practice, but can tell you what these companies look for in a candidates and ways to get your foot in the door.
Since we are talking about ‘how to get the job you want’, most of what you will apply for will be the junior to mid-level opportunities. Also referred to as Associate positions, sometimes “Senior” Associate with slight variations throughout.
These are opportunities that require a candidate to have one to five years of working experience, and offer you the ability to “climb the corporate ladder” of Big4 if you wish to do so. Getting hired within an organization like this requires you to have a Bachelors degree at the very least and at least one year of experience typically a technical environment.
These roles are ideal for the younger professional, usually with an IT background. Rarely am I asked to find someone with a background in law enforcement for positions like this. There are always exceptions to this, for example if you have commercial readiness experience (read: business savvy, articulate, can present to clients), then you stand a good chance of getting your foot in the door.
We receive calls regularly from retired police officers or detectives wishing to apply for entry level roles. In most cases junior level roles within the Big4 are not an ideal fit. Because you are applying for a position at a lower level, expect the pay to be on the lower range of compensation (average 55K-85KUS), expect to work long hours, sleep very little and have little or no time for social life.
The average first year or second year Associate within Big 4 works about seventy hours per week and travels two to three weeks per month.
The good news
The experience you obtain in Big4 is invaluable; most recruiters tell you the same. Spending two years as a first or second year associate is equivalent to four or five years within a corporation or average consulting firm, not to mention it is fantastic for your resume. You become very appealing to corporations and solutions providers as having a certain level of professionalism about you. And such, this makes an easier transition into the traditional corporate or boutique setting.
Big4 has what is referred to as “up or out”, which as implied means you either work your way up or you are asked to leave. There is a well defined career path with salary increases and different levels of responsibilities at each.
Titles can vary depending on the organization, however here is what the career path looks like in one particular organization:
- First year Associate $50 – 65K
- “Senior” (Associate) $65 – 80K
- Manager $80 -110K
- Senior Manager $110 – 220K
- Partner $220++
(Salaries vary depending on region, figures can be +/- approx $10,000 )
Continuing your career within Big4 is not a terrible thing especially if you are money motivated. Partners (sometimes Principles) in Big4 earn an average salary of $250,000 and as high as $900,000 in some cases. Put a bonus on top of that and stock options and you’re well over one million dollars.
Next level consultancies
As a recruiter in the space, some of the most advanced candidates we see come from companies such as FTI Consulting, BDO Seidman, Navigant Consulting and similar organizations. These companies work in a slightly similar fashion to a Big4, however we see a bit more hands on technology expertise as well as the client facing abilities in a candidate like this.
Getting your foot in the door at a technology consultancy can sometimes be an easier route compared to Big4; still a competitive environment but not as cut throat. A Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Engineering or a related field as well as a minor background in technology and you are a strong candidate for an entry level role.
Having a technology certification like CISSP, CEH, MCSE or A+ is always a plus and may enhance your chances of getting the job you want.
Starting US salaries at companies like this range from $60-80K plus bonus.
Useful link regarding industry certifications…click HERE