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 the ‘Recruitment’ Category

My Easter message

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My Easter message

Written by Cathrine Richardson

April 20, 2014 at 9:10 am

Posted in Recruitment

My Easter message

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My Easter message

Written by Cathrine Richardson

April 19, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Posted in Recruitment

My Easter message

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EasterEaster has always been a time of reflection for me.

Where I grew up in South Africa, Easter falls in the early autumn. It starts getting cooler, the nights draw in and mothers start cooking vegetable soup. It’s a time for slowing down, for taking respite and for re-calibrating.

Here in the UK, Easter is a time of re-awakening. It’s early spring, the daffodils and crocuses bloom and everything is springing back to life after the winter. We all rejoice in British Summer Time!

Of course, we all know that Easter is not really about hopping bunnies and chocolate, Easter bonnets and chocolate, and more chocolate on top of the chocolate we already ate.

Easter has it’s own meaning for everyone. For me, it’s about being grateful and taking time to contemplate how generous life is with it’s gifts. I seem to be getting a lot more philosophic as I get older. And I like it that way! It has improved my quality of life immensely.

So my Easter wish for you and yours is that you may have the luxury of making space for a bit of gratitude. (And of course, chocolate!)

I am grateful for so many good things – Physical, professional, emotional, spiritual, both business-wise and personal. The list will go on forever! So instead of boring you witless, I would simply like to wish everyone a truly blessed Easter.


A view from my new Apprentice

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To help me with all the admin and resourcing work generated by the Parts Alliance and my other brilliant clients, I really needed some help! I had a choice between finding an experienced person, or helping a young person into work.

I decided to go for the latter option, and I am very pleased that I did! Welcome on board Sarah-Jane Palazzo. I really look forward to working with you, and imparting at least some of the experience I have gained over the last quarter of a century.

I will let Sarah-Jane tell you herself how she is getting on. Hopefully, you will understand why I selected her to join me!

“On the 1st April I started working for CR Associates as a Recruitment Assistant. I was desperately unhappy in my previous employment, and was thrilled to receive a job offer from Cathy.

I do not have the most lucrative CV, nor the most experience in recruitment. However I was fortunate enough to meet Cathy, who saw what skills I do have and the potential I have to progress to a high level.

I’d applied for similar roles before and it’s taken me a while to finally land the job I want. The best factor in my new role is the potential to grow: In 3 months time I see myself in full apprenticeship training, hopefully placing candidates into motor factor branches, and being completely comfortable with all the tasks my role requires. In 1 year I see myself being a fully qualified Recruitment Consultant for CR Associates and creating the building blocks to leave my mark on the recruitment industry.

I have only just completed my first week at CRA and have already learnt so much: I have learnt what makes a good CV, the difference between a good candidate and a GREAT candidate, I have learnt that being kind and helpful goes such a long way and most importantly… How Cathy likes her tea!

Enjoying your job makes you feel good about yourself, it makes you feel important and needed. The difference I have noticed in myself is astonishing: I’m eating healthier, I’m taking more pride in my appearance, and apparently I’m ‘glowing’!

I have an amazing job, and an amazing boss. I am very aware that I have been incredibly lucky to be given this opportunity. However, I know that I would not have been given this opportunity if I was not confident, enthusiastic and determined. So I urge those reading this, if you don’t feel that way about your current job: Take a risk! Strive to be the best you can be! If I can do it, you can do it too!”

Am I hitting the Mark? Fun Friday philosophy

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man with question on white. Isolated 3D imageThis phenomenon is so strange, it deserves a blog post!

Today, I have 2 candidates named Mark going for job interviews at the same company, but for different jobs. One of the interviewers is also named Mark. The strange thing is that in this particular organisation, both the MD and Sales Director are also named Mark. That makes 5 Marks with some involvement in my professional life on one day!

This slightly complicates communication. The phone rings, and the person at the other end says: “Hi Cathy, its Mark.”

Which Mark? One of the Marks already in the mix? Or are you a new Mark that the universe has thrown into the pool to stir things up a bit?

Not that I have a problem with Marks – They are all perfectly friendly, easy to deal with and perfectly professional gentleman. In fact, I have yet to find a mark with whom I do not get on. I had a quick look at my database, and currently 174 Marks entrust me with their CVs. I thought that was quite impressive!

However, I just wonder where all the Georges, Michaels, Trevors and Tims have disappeared to at the moment. When you do decide to make an appearance, please try to do so one at a time. I have my hands full of Marks, so I’m not sure how well I will be able to manage an onslaught of any other name!





Written by Cathrine Richardson

March 21, 2014 at 9:32 am

Posted in Recruitment

Category (Product) Director – #Automotiv

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Category (Product) Director – #Automotive Parts Vertical | Cathy Richardson Associates #jobs

Written by Cathrine Richardson

March 7, 2014 at 11:05 am

Posted in Recruitment

Category (Product) Director – Automotive

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Category (Product) Director – Automotive Parts Vertical | Cathy Richardson Associates # automotive #jobs

Written by Cathrine Richardson

March 5, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Posted in Recruitment

Dealing with the top 10 behavioural interview questions

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Employment interview


Behavioral interviews are based on the premise that a person’s past performance on the job is the best predictor of future performance. When a company uses behavioral interviewing techniques, they want to know how you act and react in certain circumstances. They also want you to give specific “real life” examples of how you behaved in situations relating to the questions.

In fact, behavioral interviewing is said to be 55% predictive of future on-the-job behavior, while traditional interviewing is only 10% predictive.

The interviewer identifies desired skills and behaviors for the job, and the questions you will be asked will be geared to finding out if you have those skills. The interviewer wants to know how you handled a situation, rather than just gathering information about you.

Top 10 Behavioral Interview Questions

  • Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.
  • How do you handle a challenge? Give an example.
  • Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?
  • Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
  • Describe a decision you made that wasn’t popular and how you handled implementing it.
  • Give an example of how you set goals and achieve them.
  • Give an example of how you worked on team.
  • What do you do if you disagree with someone at work?
  • Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers.
  • Have you handled a difficult situation? How?

How to formulate your answers

Keeping to the STAR (Situation,Task, Action, Result) method is a very effective tool to answer competency based questions as it should make your answers structured and yet succinct:

  • Think about a Situation that corresponds to the question in hand. State it clearly and succinctly.
  • Then explain the Task you had to undertake to resolve the problem
  • Tell them the Actions you took to break down the task and get the job done
  • Explain what the Result was, and where possible quantify it e.g. % cost savings, how many new customers, etc

Written by Cathrine Richardson

March 3, 2014 at 8:57 am

Posted in Recruitment

How to answer the 5 most common interview questions

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interview answersYou walk into the interview room, shake hands with your interviewer and sit down with your best interviewing smile on. They are likely to have a full list of questions for you, apart from going through your CV and seeing if you have the skills for the job at hand.

So do you “wing it”? Will you spend the next 5 minutes rambling on about what an easy-going, loyal, dedicated, hard working employee you’ve been? If this is the case, you stand a good chance of having bored your interviewer to death thus creating a negative first impression. It’s far better to consider the potential questions and try to prepare the best answers to make your best impression possible:

1. Tell me about yourself.

Because it’s such a common interview question, it’s strange that more candidates don’t spend the time to prepare for exactly how to answer it. Perhaps because the question seems so disarming and informal, we drop our guard and shift into ramble mode. Resist all temptation to do so.

Your interviewer is not looking for a 10-minute dissertation here. Instead, offer a razor sharp sentence or two that sets the stage for further discussion and sets you apart from your competitors.

2. What is your greatest strength?

The best way to respond is to describe the skills and experience that directly correlate with the job you are applying for.

For example:

  • When I’m working on a project, I don’t want just to meet deadlines. Rather, I prefer to complete the project well ahead of schedule.
  • I have exceeded my sales goals every quarter and I’ve earned a bonus each year since I started with my current employer.
  • My time management skills are excellent and I’m organized, efficient, and take pride in excelling at my work.
  • I pride myself on my customer service skills and my ability to resolve what could be difficult situations

3. What is your greatest weakness?

There are several different ways you can answer, including mentioning skills that aren’t critical for the job, skills you have improved on, and turning a negative into a positive.

Another option is to discuss skills that you have improved upon during your previous job, so you are showing the interviewer that you can make improvements, when necessary. You can sketch for employers your initial level of functioning, discuss the steps you have taken to improve this area and then reference your current, improved level of skill.

If you use this strategy be sure not to mention anything that you improved upon that is related to the job for which you are interviewing. You don’t want your qualifications for the job to be questioned.

4. Why should we hire you?

Your answer to this question should be a concise “sales pitch” that explains what you have to offer the employer.

The best way to respond is to give concrete examples of why your skills and accomplishments make you the best candidate for the job. Take a few moments to compare the job description with your abilities, as well as mentioning what you have accomplished in your other positions. Be positive and reiterate your interest in the company and the position.

Keep it short, specific, and positive.

5. Why are you leaving this job / Why did you leave your last job?

Be direct and focus your interview answer on the future, especially if your leaving wasn’t under the best of circumstances. Regardless of why you left, don’t speak badly about your previous employer. The interviewer may wonder if you will be bad-mouthing his company next time you’re looking for work.

Written by Cathrine Richardson

February 24, 2014 at 9:23 am

Posted in Recruitment

Parts Alliance announce CRA as retained partner to support people strategies

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Announcing an important development for CRA

as the Parts Alliance focus on staff development.

I am delighted to quote the following article that appeared in the recent ADF newsletter  :

“Following recent developments in the four HgCapital-owned businesses within The Parts Alliance, Peter Sephton, their Group CEO has announced a major focus on training, support and investment in staff at GMF, CES, SCMF and Allparts.

Cathy Richardson and CR Associates have been retained to develop best-in-class retention and recruitment initiatives to safeguard the company’s investment in the people currently employed across the four operating companies.

Cathy, Recruitment Practitioner and Principal of CR Associates, is an experienced coach and business consultant with more 25 years experience working with global and medium-sized organisations particularly within the UK automotive industry.

Peter Sephton said, ‘’We are investing in new branches, expanding the number of parts advisors and sales people in existing branches and training our people through our Parts Alliance Academies. 

“Ensuring a stable working environment for our current staff, as well as getting world class processes in place to deliver our growth plans are essential. We believe Cathy’s knowledge and expertise in the Parts Distribution Aftermarket will play a central part in achieving this.”

The Academy approach is part of a 10 step programme introduced by Peter in November 2013 which is being rolled out during 2014. Twenty six branch managers attended a two-day Academy course looking at how a high performing branch team operates. “Our businesses serve thousands of local customers and our branches are the front line,” said Peter.

To speed up decision-making and sharing of best practice, Peter has already aligned the four businesses into two regional alliances, the Western Alliance formed from GMF and CES and the Eastern Alliance, formed by SCMF and Allparts.  Each Alliance shares resources, systems and best practice to accelerate growth, facilitate new branch openings, develop staff training and invest in tools to take customer service to world leading standards.

Peter added, “This is a genuinely exciting time for the two new Alliances, our four brands, our employees and our customers and demonstrates the strength of The Parts Alliance as these activities will benefit all members.

“It will also provide outstanding opportunities for the personal growth of our colleagues as we connect our people through Cathy’s input, and give added focus to best practice – a cornerstone of our strategy of local strength and a unified operating model.”

Cathy said, “I am delighted to be involved in such a thrilling development in the Aftermarket. After many years of very little change, new developments in The Parts Alliance will bring fresh opportunities in many areas. I look forward to being a part of it.”

Written by Cathrine Richardson

February 20, 2014 at 11:58 am

Posted in Recruitment


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