The Definitive Guide to Job Hunting

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

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CAT Magazine announce more developments for Parts Alliance and CRA

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PA article

5 interview questions asked by great candidates

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Panel interviewI have organised thousands of job interviews for candidates during my career. If only I had a penny for each time a good candidate ruined a job interview by asking the wrong questions – or worse, not even asking any at all!

The problem is that most candidates don’t seem to prepare for the inevitable interview question: “Do you have anything to ask us?”

Great candidates ask questions because they’re evaluating the interviewer and the company– and whether they really want the job. How you ask these questions may make or break the outcome of your interview.

Here are five questions great candidates ask:

1. What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?

Great candidates want to hit the ground running. They don’t want to spend weeks or months “getting to know the organization.” They want to make a difference–right away. And they want to show the interviewer that they have thought about how they will achieve this.

2. What are the common attributes of your top performers?

Great candidates also want to be great long-term employees. Every organization is different, and so are the key qualities of top performers in those organizations. Maybe top performers work longer hours. Maybe creativity is more important than methodology. Maybe constantly landing new customers in new markets is more important than building long-term customer relationships. Maybe it’s a willingness to spend the same amount of time educating an entry-level customer as helping an enthusiast who wants high-end equipment.

Great candidates ask this because they want to know if they fit, and if they do fit, what will make them a top performer.

3. What are a few things that really drive results for the company?

Employees are investments, and every employee should generate a positive return on his or her salary. (Otherwise why are they on the payroll?) In every job some activities make a bigger difference than others. Great candidates want to know what truly makes a difference. They know that by helping the company succeed,  they succeed as well.

4. What do employees do in their spare time?

Happy employees like what they do, and they like the people they work with. This is a difficult question for an interviewer to answer. Unless the company is really small, all any interviewer can do is speak in generalities. But this candidate wants to make sure they have a reasonable chance of fitting in, and that is a very important quality.

5. How do you plan to deal with…?

Every business faces a major challenge: technological changes, competitors entering the market, shifting economic trends, etc. And well-informed candidates will be aware of all the risk factors. They hope for growth and advancement. If they do eventually leave, they want it to be on their terms and not because the company was forced out of business.

For example: I’m interviewing for a position at your bike shop. Another shop is opening less than a mile away: How do you plan to deal with the new competitor? Or you run a poultry farm: What will you do to deal with rising feed costs?

A great candidate doesn’t just want to know what the prospective employer thinks; they want to know what the prospective employer plans to do – and how they will fit into those plans.

Asking questions like these will help you stand out from the crowd, proving your real interest in the job and the company. Hopefully, the answers will also give you a pretty good idea of whether the role and company is right for you or not.

Introducing the new CR Associates!

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There is nothing quite like a new beginning!

I am delighted to announce the relaunch of Cathy Richardson Associates during January 2014.

With a new strapline of Resource, Recruit, Retain we will take steps beyond what is normally expected from Recruiters.

Resource: Away with Just-in-Time recruitment! Instead of waiting for recruitment needs to arise within our client companies before we react, we will pre-empt hiring needs. We will work with our clients to understand growth plans, recruitment strategies, medium and long-term business challenges, and any other elements that may impact on how our clients’ people strategies may change. We will build talent networks, generate market maps and identify key talent in our core markets so that we can advise pro-actively on market dynamics. We will help build employer branding and assist our employers of choice to develop the most attractive candidate attraction and recruitment strategies to maximise opportunities in the skills short jobs market.

Recruit: Away with outdated tactics! We will actively work with our clients to generate efficient, targeted recruitment campaigns based on a range of social and conventional methodologies to make sure we find the best possible candidate shortlists. We will engage actively with our candidates to make sure they enter into only the best-fit recruitment processes. We will manage these processes for and with our clients, using state-of-the-art psychometric and assessment centre technology to make sure that objective hiring decisions are made. We will work with all parties to make sure that the most positive contractual negotiations are achieved, and that referencing and due diligence takes place in all directions to ensure positive outcomes.

Retain: Away with one hit wonder recruitment! We want the candidates we place to stay with our clients. We want their jobs to turn into careers. We want our clients to build loyal, stable workforces where people are valued and developed. That is why we will work with our clients and their workforces to help with coaching, mentoring, honest broking, advising and ensuring that communication is outstanding. We will actively work with our clients to retain their people. This will help us build employer brands for returning to the resourcing cycle.

Core markets: We have built a reputation for recruiting successfully into the Sales, Service and Commercial arenas. As in the past, we will continue to focus on the manufacturing and techno-commercial distribution markets. This includes Manufacturing, Automotive and Distribution. We will work with Sales, Marketing and Commercial teams to bring the best possible teams of people together to ensure commercial success. This ranges from graduate or entry-level, through regional management and culminates in recruiting at MD, Director or Senior level.

2014 is set to be an exciting and challenging year. We are waiting for a revamped website, the Facebook page has received a face lift and the blog continues to get high levels of attention.

Certainly, new beginnings are full of risk but as the economy continues to improve and the skills shortage bites even more, we look forward to wonderful things!

Christmas wishes

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2-Christmas-Bells-800850 Unbelievably, we are racing towards the end of 2012 already. It doesnt seem that long since it started!

This has been a year of change and challenge in more areas than one. Everyone seems tired, slilghtly worn out and certainly ready for the Christmas break, when no doubt we will all recharge our batteries with festive fare and a lovely rest before starting back in 2013 with a newly refreshed drive and attitude.

Thankfully, the economy seems to be settling at last and hopefully, that will signal positive things for the job market. Lets hope the candidate shortage doesn’t continue to bite!

I would like to wish all my current and past clients, candidates, business contacts and friends a restful and plentiful Christmas, and a 2013 that defies all expectations for success and positivity.

Wishing you fun, frolic with fanciful festivities and a truly memorable end to 2012.

For our lovely festive e-card, please click here and enjoy!

 

 

My heartfelt thanks

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Following the unexpected passing of my father in South Africa, I would like to extend my heartfelt thank to my friends, acquaintances, clients and candidates for all the heartfelt messages of condolence and support I received.

The loss of a parent is an inevitable but heartbreaking fact of life. But when family are on the other side of the globe, it makes coping with the loss so much more difficult.

I had no choice but to get on a plane to South Africa as soon as I heard the news to be with my family. Although I did put interim measures in place I would like to apologise if calls and emails have not been answered over the past 2 weeks. Responsive service is always very important to me, but at this time my focus simply had to be elsewhere for a short time.

I have been really humbled by the generous responses I have received from most quarters, and I am truly grateful to be held in such high regard by so many people who took the time to offer their support and best wishes in such a sad time for me.

Hopefully, it will be back to business as normal from now on.

Guide to Job Hunting: Is your CV formatting scuppering your chances?

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It makes sense that the CONTENT of your CV is what gets you the interview, not the STYLE of it. Obviously, the person who reads your CV wants to see what you did, how did it, how long for and what you achieved in each role. Anything that detracts from that, detracts from your chances of being considered.

When you apply for a job, you would want your CV to cause the least bit of disruption to internal systems, so that it can get through to be seen by the decision maker. Formatting and trying to be overly creative with the appearance of your CV can shoot you in the foot.

In this case, less is definitely more! The best advice on formatting is always to go for a simple Word based CV, with ordinary spacing and using bold typeface to highlight important bits.

1. Ordering of dates

Always start with the most recent first. Reverse chronology of dates means the reader has to scroll all the way down to the bottom of your CV to get to your relevant experience. They may get bored and decide to look at another CV instead!

2. CVs saved as PDF

Your CV is likely to be stored on a database if you approach an agency. They would probably want to reformat it  to suit their particular style. If your CV is saved as PDF, it is not possible to effect quick changes. Some databases don’t accept PDF at all as a document format. At best, it will need to be reformatted either by the database itself, or by an administrator, which means you will lose all the clever formatting anyway. At worst, your CV might just be discarded.

3. Tables

Using complex tables in your CV might look good and help you to sort the information, but often emailing or storing tables disrupt the formatting. And if your CV has to be reformatted to suit a recruiting client’s expectations, it can cause administrative headaches with tables that overrun pages, or tables that don’t fit into the set format. As for PDF’s, save yourself the risk of exclusion by going for simple and straightforward instead.

4. Capitalisation

Believe it or not, I see many CVs that are written entirely in capitals. It is difficult to read, hugely challenging to reformat and simply not good English. Always make sure the capitalisation is correct. It reflects attention to detail, a good grasp of the written language and good presentation skills.

5. Multiple Colours

Recently, I saw a CV with all the text in red. It was amazingly difficult to read! Using too many colours, or even  a single block colour, on your CV does not create the right impression. Go for simple black text on a white background – It creates the best professional impression.

6. Including logos and photographs

Don’t put the logos of past employers on your CV. You are selling your own skills, and that is what you should be focussing on.

As for photos: Just don’t do it! Unless you are in a performance related field such as acting, the way you look has nothing to do with the job you do. It distracts the reader from what is really important.

7. Spacing

A large amount of text presented in a single block is very difficult to read. Space things out so that the reader is lead naturally through your experience. Use Bold type to separate different sections. For example: Place an employers name, dates and job title in Bold, and then follow that with a bulleted list of responsibilities and achievements in that particular role

8. Keep it standard

Finish off as you start. Make sure your CV has a uniform appearance, present information consistently in the same way (Spacing, typeface, etc) throughout to create a professional appearance. Anything different creates a haphazard appearance.

 

 

 

 

Guide to Job hunting – What Recruiters can and cant do for you

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Recruiters find themselves in a complicated and often misunderstood role. Job seekers are attracted to their services and industry expertise – yet at the same time repelled by the seemingly fickle relationships, the possibility of failure and rejection, and worst of all – job opportunities that may never fully materialize.

Before working with a recruiter, job seekers need to come to terms with some very hard truths about themselves and the recruitment industry. Namely, not every candidate is created equal, and recruiters can’t always be miracle workers. Realizing this, candidates can move on and embrace recruiters for what they realistically have to offer. Below you’ll find some un-doctored truths about recruiters – what they can and cannot do, and what it means for job seekers. For starters…

  • Recruiters have commitments to their clients: The recruitment agency’s clients are composed of companies and organizations that have hired them to fill open positions. Although a recruiter may want to help you with all their heart, if you’re not a good fit for their requisitions, they can’t do anything for you (at the time). What this means is that recruiters have long memories, and when a position does come along that fits your profile, you can bet that you’ll be first to know.
  • Recruiters know the job market: Recruiters who are truly dedicated to their craft will be able to offer small tidbits of wisdom to help you along in your job search. If a recruiter recommends you make an adjustment to your CV or suggests you present your experience in a certain light to better fit an opportunity – you’d be wise to listen to them. On the other hand, know that recruiters are not babysitters or career coaches…
  • A recruiter is only as good as his/her candidates: The Internet is awash with criticisms of recruiters for their inability to place every sad excuse of a candidate that walks through their door. Recruiters are not miracle workers. They can’t shine you up, cover up your imperfections and toss you into your dream job. If you’re not qualified for a position, the recruiter can only do so much.They don’t create jobs, but they can be “hubs” of invaluable market knowledge and career networking.

Finally, know that working with recruiters requires mutual effort and understanding. A good recruiter will put in the extra effort for you, if you do the same for them. When working with recruiters, try to return their calls in a timely manner, be professional and presentable, go on interviews they set up, and always exercise honesty and integrity.

As with many practices in business, you get what you put in. If you call a recruiter only when you desperately need a job and then act frustrated when they don’t find you a job in a day, they aren’t going to want to help you as much. Again, recruiters can’t make a company hire you, but they are selling; if they like you and believe in your skills, they will be that much more effective at selling you to the company

When is bad really bad in Sales? A disgruntled customer’s view.

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My own recent experience just made me realise, again, how important the personal brand of the sales person is to the customer and the buying relationship.

In this case, I was the customer who bought some advertising. The sales rep arrived in typical flush fashion, all high heels and big hair to signify her role in the media industry, and with lots to say about what would be best for me and my business. I listened, asked for advice, listened and asked for advice. This particular advertising medium was out of my frame of reference so I needed all the help I could get.

I placed the order, and in due course I had an email with my proof. I made a few little changes, assuming that what was delivered was right and appropriate given the detailed brief I gave, and also implementing the trust on my part that my request for advice was heeded.

Now I know that advertising can be hit and miss, so my expectations were pretty well-managed.

The first issue developed when the campaign started without me being advised of the date, so my back office systems were not quite ready yet. I complained, they apologised.

Off we went again, and 4 weeks into the 8 weeks campaign I had a call to see how it was going, and also to offer me some more advertising in a different medium. It wasn’t going great so I wasn’t going to buy any more advertising! But she did offer to make some changes to the current ad to hopefully improve the response rates. I emailed my new information, left messages and even emailed the rep to talk to her. I was ignored for over a week!

When she did eventually call, it was full of excuses about how her iPhone had let her down. Frankly, I didn’t want excuses. I was mortified that this sort of stuff still happens in modern-day sales! Especially when the solution she offered involved paying a lot more to keep the same ineffective ad running.

Eventually, I got to speak to the Sales Manager who was very quick to defend their business principles, but also pointed out that the ad was grossly inappropriate for the medium. I respected how well she defended both her team and her employer. But I was also surprised that, as the Sales Manager claimed to be a recruitment expert, and given my repeated requests for advice, I didn’t get to speak to her at all in the process? I felt even worse when she said another recruitment agency had taken the same package deal and had a fabulous response. Really? Why were they given different advice to me then, if we were obviously paying exactly the same price for exactly the same deal?

In the end, I am getting some of my money back. But the damage this has done to my perception of this organisation is huge. I will be very dubious to trust anything they say, ever again, regardless of the Sales Manager’s claim that they are an ethical business.

I believe that this is all down to communication within their business internally, and the lack of the Sales Rep’s ability to establish credibility after she had promised the earth but failed to deliver. As sales people, we operate hugely on a basis of trust with our clients. The client buys both the wider branding of the seller, and the personal brand of the sales rep. If the two brands do not line up, there is a real likelihood of a disgruntled result at the end. To the client, that person sitting in front of him making the promises represents the company and this is were buying decisions are made and later, regretted.

The true mettle of any sales person is tested when things go wrong. It is easy to manage affairs when it’s all hunky dory. However, a real professional sales person will put his own pride in his pocket to make sure the customer gets what he pays for. And this includes pro-actively ensuring that the customer gets the best pre-sales service as possible, to try and avoid mishaps in the first place.

Communication, at each step of the process, is vital to make sure the customer knows what the challenges are so he can make an objective decision, When things go wrong, emotions come into play and it is far harder to recover damaged relationships than to manage problems when they are still small.

But most of all, don’t ever make promises that you can’t keep. Forewarn the client of potential issues. And if you can see that they are making a mistake, compare the commission you may lose on the deal with the respect you will earn from being honest. The latter will get you referrals and probably even more business deals. Only going for the sale, at any cost, will end in tears in the long run.

Or have I missed something, somewhere, in this wonderful commercial world we live in?

eBay recruits into the parts Aftermarket – Excellent opportunities in the UK and Germany!

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We are delighted to be working with eBay, the world’s largest online marketplace. They have a powerful online presence for the sale of automotive parts and accessories across Europe, managed by a passionate community of individuals and small businesses. The size of the European automotive and motorcycle replacement parts market for eBay in Europe is measured in BIllions of Euros.

In line with recent developments in the parts aftermarket, with several of the OE parts manufacturers, factors and distributors developing online parts sales strategies, eBay are now looking to maximise on this trend by developing a new vertical offering to market in Germany and the UK.

This will be focussed entirely on the automotive and motorcycle aftermarket parts channels, offering a platform for factors, distributors and sellers to utilise.

This exciting opportunity requires a sales professional with a real in-depth knowledge of the automotive aftermarket. You will understand the commercial drivers as well as the complex relationships that exist in the aftermarket. You will also have a strong sales profile, with a real drive to develop fruitful and long standing client relationships. Working form ahome based location but reporting into the head office in Berlin, you will also be able to develop commercial proposals based on client needs.

In return, they offer an outstanding opportunity to diversify your skills away from the mainstream parts aftermarket whilst still maintaining a detailed relationship with the industry. There are also excellent benefits, career prospects and a world class working culture from which to benefit.

For more information, please send your CV to recruitment@cathyrich.co.uk, or call 0845 269 9085 to discuss this exciting opportunity in more detail

Definitive guide to Job Hunting: When did you last Google yourself?

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So why didn’t you get called for that job interview you so wanted? Or why did the job offer not turn up as anticipated?
 
When did you last Google yourself?
 
The reality is that it is becoming very commonplace for job applicants to be “checked out” online before proceeding with the recruitment process. And it is absolutely crucial to make sure that what people find online supports the image you are portraying during your job search.
 
Google favours social networking sites so it is likely that your LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook profile will trend highly in the search rankings. And regardless of the security protocols you set (Interestingly, many Facebook profiles are public) they will draw conclusions from what they find.

So what are the pitfalls?

 

1. Inappropriate Pictures

Pictures of you in full party mode, chugging it down or falling over in the gutter might be a laugh to your friends. But that is NOT what you want a prospective employer to see!  Unless you make sure that your security settings are watertight, especially on Facebook, simply don’t put them online.

2. Complaining About Your Current Job

You’ve no doubt done this at least once. It could be a full note about how much you hate your office, or how incompetent your boss is, or it could be as innocent as a status update about how your coworker always shows up late. While everyone complains about work sometimes, doing so in a public forum where it could be found by others is not the best career move. Use this measure: If you won’t say it out loud in front of your boss or colleagues, then don’t post it online for the world to see.

3. Posting Conflicting Personal facts

Disparities will make you look at worst like a liar, and at best careless. Make sure that you are honest about your background and qualifications, and support this with the information you post online. Don’t over – or under state your experience, job title or qualifications. Inconsistencies mean a high risk factor to potential employers and they are likely to simply avoid it by cutting you from the list.

4. Statuses You Wouldn’t Want Your Boss to See

Statuses that imply you are unreliable, deceitful, and basically anything that doesn’t make you look as professional as you’d like, can seriously undermine your chances of landing a new job. We have all heard of people losing jobs because of inappropriate statuses like the Receptionist who posted “I’m bored” during working hours. Worse even, are things like “Planning to call in sick tomorrow” or “I hate the time this project is taking”. It doesn’t only put your current job at risk, but future employers are most likely to avoid you too.

Manage your online profile

You can manage how you are viewed online by simply checking yourself out from time to time. If you see something that is risky, even if it was posted by someone else, just get it changed. The future investment will be worthwhile!

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