The Definitive Guide to Job Hunting

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market in the 21st Century

Archive for April 2011

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 10: Illegal Interview Questions

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Most Job Seekers and very often, Interviewers have no idea what an Illegal Interview question sounds like. Interviews are discussions and most questions are asked sincerely in an attempt to make conversation and to find out more about the interviewee. But often, certain questions might also be asked with a view to discriminate or to exclude a person from a role. Whether intentional or not, the law addresses certain particular areas and ignorance is not an excuse. My suggestion would be that both interviewers and interviewees are sensitive to these and deal with them constructively to avoid potential litigation, and to ensure an objective recruitment process.

Here are a few examples of common stonkers that could potentially cause litigation on grounds of discrimination:

1. Age

  • How old are you?
  • When were you born?
  • When did you graduate / complete high school?


  • Confirming that you are the appropriate age for the required hours or working conditions (Minimum wage and Working Time Directive)



  • Are you British?
  • Are your parents or spouse citizens?
  • Are you, your parents or your spouse naturalized or British born?


  • If you are not a British citizen, do you have the legal right to remain permanently in the UK?
  • What is your visa status (if no to the previous question).
  • Are you able to provide proof of employment eligibility?

3.Criminal Record


  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Have you ever spent a night in jail?
  • Do you have a record?


  • Do you have any unspent convictions? (A rigourous set of rules apply to the declaration of spent convictions, and there are certain jobs that are excluded and where declaration of all convictions are compulsory.)
  • Doing a CRB check



  • Do you have any disabilities?
  • What’s your medical history?
  • How does your condition affect your abilities?


  • Can you perform the specific duties of the job.

5.Marital status or Civil partnership


  • Questions concerning spouse, or spouse’s employment, salary, arrangements, or dependents.
  • Are you married, divorced, separated, engaged, widowed, etc?
  • Is this your maiden or married name?
  • How will your spouse feel about the amount of time you will be traveling if you get this job?
  • Are you planning to have children?


  • Can you work overtime?
  • Can you meet specified work schedules?

6.National Origin


  • What is your nationality?
  • Where were you born?
  • Where are your parents from?
  • What’s your heritage?
  • What is your mother tongue?


  • Verifying legal work visa status to verify eligibility for employment
  • What languages do you speak, read or write fluently?



  • How many kids do you have?
  • Do you plan to have children?
  • How old are your children?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • How old are you? (To a woman between age 25 to 40, which is the average childbearing age in the UK)


  • After hiring, asking for dependent information on tax and insurance forms.



  • What race are you?
  • Are you a member of a minority group?


  • None

9.Religion or Belief


  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • Which religious holidays will you be taking off from work?
  • Do you attend church regularly?
  • Our uniform excludes turbans


  • Can you work on Saturdays? (If relevant to the job)

10.Sex or Sexual Orientation


  • What are your plans to have children in the future?
  • Are you gay?
  • Will you be strong / tall / fit enough to do the same tasks as the men?

Appropriate: None

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 9 – The value of Agency Databases

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Recently I was doing some research and came across a book written by one of the best-selling career coaches in the UK. I was quite surprised about his views on how agencies use their databases!

According to him, recruiters only consult their databases when they are bored or desperate.

I totally beg to differ!

A recruitment agency is valued by the quality of its database. An awful lot of financial and time resource go into keeping the database lean, streamlined and up to date so that they can respond rapidly to customer demands.

The cost of advertising is extremely high, and it makes commercial sense for an agency to consult its database first when a new job requirement arrives. If a shortlist can be populated from the database, there is a significant cost saving AND its quicker – The candidates are usually known to the agency and its easier to reach them to qualify their interest.

On the other hand, especially in specialist or highly technical areas, the value of having a good number of aged applications on an agency database can not be overlooked. I can think back to several occasions when I revived contact with aged applicants and successfully placed them in new opportunities  although they were not actively job hunting.

In the current competitive jobs market, the agency with the best candidate demands the fee and it’s important for them to build their databases through a range of activities, including networking and relationship building. These exclusive contacts are highly important to the agency – If they have access to candidates different to those of their competitors, it gives them a real commercial advantage.

So, contrary to what is being preached in the job search handbooks found in the mainstream bookstores, my advice for any candidate will be the following: Actively work to get your CV on agency databases. However, make sure that you are selective – There is no point in registering with too many generalists. If you target agencies that are specialists in your field, those that you know deal with organisations for whom you would like to work (Either now or in the future), and those who actively work to maintain fresh and up to date data, you will actually be increasing your opportunities of finding a new job and also maximising opportunities for your CV to be included in future searches.

Respond to their requests for refreshed information when it’s periodically sent out, and keep them updated with changes to your CV or contact details.

Just one word of warning: Make sure the agencies with whom you register conform to the Data Protection Act.  And don’t put too much personal information (like your NI or bank account number) in your CV. This way, you protect your own privacy whilst also maximising your opportunities to find that perfect job opportunity.

Written by Cathy Richardson

April 20, 2011 at 8:30 am

Posted in Recruitment

Have you thought about transferring your Automotive or Manufacturing Commercial skills to the Rail industry – Excellent new senior commercial opportunity

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We are delighted to present a great career opportunity at the number one provider of rail solutions in the world. They design, build and service the most complex rail solutions with a full product portfolio of locomotives, bogies, propulsion and control solutions.

Due to the ongoing opportunities within the Rail industry, and internal changes they now need a commercially astute, financially oriented Commercial Manager to join their Repair and Overhaul Division to manage the customer interface and ensure profitability at high level.

They are actively recruiting for a candidate from outside the Rail industry, in order to bring diversity and a broad range of commercial acumen within the team. The ideal candidate will have a commercial or sales / business management background, currently supporting a manufacturing environment. This will include distribution, aerospace, automotive or industrial applications. Candidates from within the Automotive, Aerospace or general Manufacturing industries are likely to have the right mix of technical and commercial exposure.

You will have a high degree of commercial and financial ability, exceptional communication and negotiation skills and the ability to see the bigger picture. Managing high value contracts from cradle to grave is a key element of the role, and experience in this area is highly desirable. Entrepreneurial tendencies will be encouraged, and the ability to think outside the box and bring a fresh approach to commercial processes will be a real plus factor.

Your main focus will be managing the customer interface, maximising on current opportunities within existing contracts whilst also actively creating new business opportunities. Bid support and management of P&L, whilst maintaining customer priorities and maintaining exceptional levels of service to maximise profitability is also part of the brief, as are managing issues such as cash flow, scheduling, prioritisation and risk mitigation.

For more information, please send your CV to Cathy at, or call 0845 269 9085 to discuss how your skill set might  allow you to enter a dynamic and secure new environment.

New role: Key Account Manager Japanese OEMs (Tier 1)

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Our client is a very well-known and highly respected German Tier 1 supplier of engineered electronics and electrical components and systems for the automotive manufacturing industry.

Due to an internal promotion, they now require an experienced Account Manager / Commercial Manager to deal with the Japanese vehicle manufacturers.

Reporting into Germany, you will be responsible for the maintenance and development of business with the Japanese OEMs, maximising opportunities on new vehicle programs whilst also maintaining existing business. This will include completion of RFQs from receipt to nomination. The role will involve interaction with European and global customer and employer manufacturing sites, and hence substantial travel.

The ideal candidate will have an engineering background, with a customer focussed and commercial outlook. Commercial experience with vehicle manufacturers, particularly the Japanese OEMs, is essential. German language ability will be an advantage.

For more information, please send your Cv to, or call Cathy on 0845 269 9085 for more information.

Written by Cathy Richardson

April 13, 2011 at 6:54 am

Posted in Recruitment

Exciting sales jobs in the North West – Motor Factor

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We are delighted in the positive and long standing working relationship we enjoy with our client:  One of the largest part suppliers in the UK independent aftermarket, and a leading organisation in terms of best practice sales and people development.

At the start of their new financial year,  a growth plan has been announced to continue the incremental growth they have experienced over the past two years, allowing them to fully maximise all the opportunities available to them in a dynamic and competitive market.

People are the backbone of this organisation, and in order to achieve the desired outcomes it is crucial for them to bring commercially minded, high calibre people into their business to support the already high calibre of their sales teams.

11 new vacancies have just been released to us exclusively, and we would be delighted to hear from not only experienced aftermarket sales professionals, but from people keen to establish a career in the aftermarket.

The roles are pretty diverse, ranging from entry-level Telesales / Parts Advisor, through Branch Manager and Regional Sales, into head office functions such as supporting their web-based sales activities and managing the Telesales team.

All the roles are based in the North West.

For more information, please send your Cv to or call 0845 269 9085 for an informal discussion.

The Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 7 – Where you fit in

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The recruitment process

Where do you fit into the scheme of things?

When a company sets out to fill a vacancy, there is a specific process involved. In some cases, this is relatively simple but it can also be along, protracted process with many steps that sometimes make candidates (And Recruiters!) feel as though they are jumping through hoop after hoop.

Job applicants become frustrated because they don’t have visibility of the entire process. They have to rely on feedback and communication in order to understand what to expect next, and where they fit into the step by step series of actions that have to take place before a job offer can be made.

I hope that breaking down this process into its various components, and communicating it simply, will help to take some of the frustration out and allow job applicants to work with the system, rather than to wrestle with it.

It is worth mentioning here that sometimes, these steps become blurred and it is possible for several of the steps to happen at once, so it can be quite a dynamic situation. On the other hand, it might be a highly controlled process where nothing else will progress before a particular event has concluded fully.

Step 1 – Planning

This happens on the company side. There is a resignation, restructure or other purpose for an increase in headcount. Ideally, a job and person specification is prepared to inform the recruitment process. This is when the salary bracket and benefits package is set, the required skill set defined and a budget for recruitment set.

Step 2 – Define a candidate pool

In order to fulfil any vacancy, it is necessary to get a pool of potential candidates together. This might include both internal and external candidates. The company decides which recruitment agencies they want to deal with, and how they want the job to be filled.

A situation where a single source for developing the candidate pool is used, is very positive for candidates because communication tends to be better.

However, the most common form of finding a candidate pool is to take the “No solution, no fee” recruitment routes (Contingency). This creates competition for the job amongst the agencies involved, and there is often a race for getting a suitable candidate’s CV submitted first. This usually creates a large volume of CV’s from a variety of sources for the hiring manager to screen.

The agency’s ability to influence the client’s decision is defined during this stage. The more agencies involved, the less control any one of them has over the hiring manager’s final decision for interviews due to the numbers involved. If there is an exclusive arrangement or a retained situation, the recruiter has more input into the process.

The agency will advertise the role in various places, and will also search the online databases to find suitable candidates. They will do an initial screening and comparison against the job and person specification, brief candidates about the role and submit CV’s on the candidate’s behalf. It is important to note that, according to the Employment Agencies Act, no submission should be made without the candidate’s express permission to do so, having gained his agreement on the details of the job and remuneration on offer BEFORE sending in the CV.

Step 3 – Screening

Each CV has to be compared to the job requirements in order to decide on which applicants to invite for interview. A more controlled process based on documented data is usually far more objective, but the reality is that, in most organisations, CV’s are simply scanned by agnecies and decisions to submit are made on face value. For this reason, there is not always a lot of information available for briefing candidates.

Step 4 – Decision to interview

Once a CV is sent to the company by the agency, it is compared to all the other submissions and also to the People Specification for the role. The most suitable applications are then invited for a face to face interview, usually arranged through the submitting agency.

In my view, a candidate who applies through an agency should only really consider his application as live once he is invited for an interview with the recruiting organisation. Until then, everything else is based on a totally impersonal selection process.


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