The world and beyond – Surviving in the economic jungle

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market and commercial environment, from a female executive's perspective

Archive for September 2011

Transfer your Commercial Manufacturing or Automotive skills into the Rail industry

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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.

Written by Cathy Richardson

September 30, 2011 at 9:09 am

Posted in Recruitment

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting: 10 top tips for bagging that interview

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1.     It is not about YOU, it is about them, it’s about positioning yourself as the best candidate for the job.

Prepare for the job interview by studying the job description in detail, and be prepared to show that you match up to the requirements. Research, read and understand the mission and vision of the company. Often, the first stage in the interview process  is about eliminating candidates who represent a reasonable match. Your mission at this point is to match up as best as possible with the job description and qualifications. If you do not match up, if you appear not qualified enough or too qualified you may not be selected for the next round of interviews.

2. Do your research, but do not get stuck in analysis paralysis.

Take time to learn about the organization, understand their goals and objectives and how you can add value, if you can find out information about the interviewer, find out information about your prospective boss. Find a reason why you want to work for this company, and why they are attractive to you as a potential employer. While we like to tell ourselves that buying decisions are intellectual, the decision to buy or in this case to hire is always emotional. The person interviewing you has to feel that you are passionate about what you do, that you are focused on adding value and being part of a winning team. Differentiate yourself not simply by positioning yourself as the best candidate but by also mirroring a passion for the organisation, its values and objectives. Your mission is to understand the company, drawing out the interviewer, building rapport and affinity with questions that will position you as the best candidate and also show that you are listening to what he/she is saying.

3. Know your brand.

What are the best 3 things about you – The benefits that you bring to the table? Three things, three ways that you add value to an organization. Know them; be able to give examples of how you have accomplished them in other positions. Be prepared to give concrete examples of your successes. Develop a short but powerful narrative around your three key selling points, your brand. Your Mission: Start by determining your key success factors, strengths that have led to previous accomplishment. Past performance will predict future and this is what will get you hired, if it matches up with what the company expects you to deliver in the job.

4. Answer interview questions in a way that positions you as the best candidate

Leave the interviewer with the feeling that you are sincere, authentic and an excellent match for the job. Be prepared to answer questions on topics that range from education, work experience and history, decision making, leadership, problem solving, how you deal with conflict/stress, management skills, project management skills and personality/behavior based questions. There are a myriad of resources with questions on the internet to help you rehearse answers. Your mission: To position yourself as the best candidate. This does not mean responding in a canned or rehearsed way, it does not mean giving information that is extraneous and not relevant, it does not mean talking to much but rather saying what is important to always match you up as the ideal candidate for the job description and qualifications.

5. Reflect excellence and preparation

Come to the interview with a paper and pen, your agenda, a copy of your CV and any other marketing collaterals that are relevant, have a list of brief but important questions you want to ask and come dressed for success. Make sure you are impeccably groomed and reflect excellence in your attire and demeanor. Your mission: To reflect excellence, professionalism and authenticity in your demeanor, dress and the way you answer questions and ask questions.

6. Believe that you are the person for the job before you go into the interview.

Confidence is visible before you start speaking.You need to know all the reasons why you are the best person for this job. Have certainty without being arrogant. Your mission: Confidence that comes from inside out and is not arrogance. If you are nervous, if you are unable to visualize yourself in the job because you are stressed out, fake it until you make it. Commit to being the perfect candidate, to playing this role for this time period.

7. Anticipate questions about key strengths and weaknesses or limiting factors

Use examples of past challenges in a way that shows that you have learned from them and they have better positioned you to excel in the job you are interviewing for. Never speak negatively about previous employers or people you have worked for. If there was a problem, frame it in a way that is positive. Never bring up areas of challenge unless you are asked for them. Your Mission: Know your strengths and weaknesses, and find a way to position these to show that you learn from challenges and/or mistakes and will use them to do better in the position you are interviewing for.

8. Connect and develop rapport.

Sincerity can not be stressed too much, but mirroring body language or using the same type of language wil lcreate better rapport. Use language that mirrors the mission and vision statement of the organization and the language in the job description and qualifications. Do not talk too much, rather try to draw the interviewer out and have them ask you more questions. Try to find a common bond with the interviewer, something you share in common as it builds rapport. LISTEN! Listen to questions, try to understand why the interviewer is really asking the question and what they expect to hear. If you need to pause to think about a question, pause and reflect. Make sure to show interest in what the interviewer is saying and asking, do not regurgitate canned answers. Your mission: Affinity, authenticity, excellent communication that positions you as the best candidate because are confident that you are the right candidate for the job.

9. Remember your own intentions and objectives

The interview is not about YOU, it is about them. The interviewer only cares about discovering that you are the best candidate for the job. But you will also have to make a decision during this process. Develop rapport, position yourself as a match for the job and ask what next steps are before you leave the interview. You need to be clear about the hiring process, and if you are not selected to go to the next step you want to know why in a way that is not abrasive but will help you gain greater understanding. Your Mission: Develop rapport, and create sufficient understanding about the rest of the process, and how you feel about it

10. Ask appropriate questions.

Ask questions that will develop rapport and will also help you speak about your strengths as they relate to the job. Prepare these, about the organization and the role, before you go into the interview. You want to answer and ask questions that will help you and the interviewer conclude that you are the best candidate and that you are a great fit for the culture, role and organization. Your mission: Understand the role, the organization and what makes you the best fit for the job. Share this understanding with the interviewer through your questions and answers.

Written by Cathy Richardson

September 26, 2011 at 10:36 am

Posted in Recruitment

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting – How do I “sign up” to an agency?

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Years ago, people would go the Job Exchange to sign up and get a new job. Nowadays, the recruitment industry has largely moved online, and the practice of “signing up” to an agency or two when you need to find a job is a bit redundant.

Now, the candidate is fully in control over where they find a job and have the final decision over how its done.

When selecting any recruitment agency, make sure that they are suitably positioned to help you. The recruitment industry is highly specialist and it makes sense to choose those agencies that work in the sectors where you want to work. Of course, if you are looking for a local role then signing up with a national agency is not sensible – Keep your focus on where you want to be and what you want to do.

But don’t only rely on the agencies where you “sign up” in the early days – Also apply online to jobs that suit your expectations and skill set.

Due to the volumes of ad responses and applications agencies receive, it has become commercially and physically impossible to reply to every single applicant so don’t take offense if your don’t hear back from everyone. But rest assured that, if your CV suits the job, they will contact you! But you must make sure that you only apply to jobs that really do reflect your experience and transferable skills.

It is good to have your CV live on a few agency databases so you can be found when they search for applciants, and also post your CV to the jobs boards. Make sure that you use typical search terms in your CV – Including the industry, job title, area, etc will make you more findable.

In the end, the most important thing is for you to find the job you want. So sticking with only one agency might not be in your interest because that agancy will definitely not have access to all the jobs in your sector.

However, it is also not advisable to spray your CV everywhere so select carefully and if you are not satisfied with the results, go elsewhere but be selective

Written by Cathy Richardson

September 19, 2011 at 10:59 am

Posted in Recruitment

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting – How to deal with Counter offers

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An interesting case study from the Guardian Careers “ask the Experts” webcast:


“I’ve been looking for a new job for ages and I’ve just managed to get one I was really happy with. What’s the problem then? Well my boss has now offered me a load more cash to stay! The agency says I should take the new job but I guess they just want the fee (cynical). Nice problem to have but I honestly don’t know which way to turn….Help!”

My answer

When the market is tight, companies try to hang on to their best staff!

Congrats on getting the job offer, and well done on being a valued employee because your boss obviously doesn’t want to lose you.

I would suggest you go back to the start and consider why you were looking for a new job in the first place.

If your issue was purely financially motived, then you have your answer: Stay where you are.

However, money is rarely the prime motivator for people moving jobs. In fact, I have known people take pay cuts to achieve the work/life balance they want, or to get a job closer to home.

If your reason for job hunting was anything other than money, then don’t accept the counter offer because nothing else will change and in due course, you will be looking again. Except that the offer on the table now will have gone away.

Of course the agency wants the fee: They did good work to get you the offer in the first place, and I bet they feel that their trust has been a bit abused. But realistically, they will be able to find a replacement if you don’t accept. You have to make the decision that is right for you, but be willing to deal with the consequences.

Written by Cathy Richardson

September 19, 2011 at 10:44 am

Posted in Recruitment

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting: Top 10 things candidates hate about agencies

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So what do candidates hate about engaging with recruitment agencies? And what can you do about it?

1. Not getting a response when they reply for online jobs: Unfortunately, agencies are so bogged down with advertising response that they might not have the resources to reply to everyone. Don’t regard the process as live until you get a response, and don’t apply for jobs that don’t perfectly suit your CV – This is the simplest way to avoid disappointment! If your CV matches the job, the agency will jump on it

2. Poor interview preparation:  Having no clue whom you are meeting with for an interview, or being unclear about any of the details. This is simply just bad service. Demand the full information before you go, you have a right to know!

3. Taking time off for interviews, only to fall into the Black Hole of No Feedback Again, this is simply bad practice. If you have had an interview you are entitled to feedback. Sometimes, the agency doesn’t get feedback from the employer but then they should tell you that so that you know where you stand.

4. Not getting appropriate advice on their CV Learning after the fact that someone on the interview team thought that their CV showed too many positions when they actually worked for the same company for 10 years, but it changed names 10 times. If your recruiter doesn’t give you advice or ask questions about your track record before sending your CV, move on and find another one!

5. Awkward online processes Navigating a ridiculous, invasive online application that does not save after each field, crashes unexpectedly, is hard to complete thoroughly, and yet is viewed as a negative if it is incomplete. If you are having trouble with the online process, call and ask for help. Sometimes there are ways to get around it, but if the  recruiting employer have strict rules you might just have to grin and bear it if you want to be considered for the role. It should be easy for you to send your CV to the agency.

6. Disappointing feedback – Feeling like you really are the right person for the job but somehow can’t get an interview. Whether that is because of a poor resume, undeveloped communications skills, or not connecting at the right level – Press the agency for feedback. Sometimes, you might have to recalibrate your own expectations but it might just be a misunderstanding about your CV that is stopping you.

7. Long and extended interview processes Going through a more thorough interview process than a candidate for the Supreme Court. I have facilitated interviews that have lasted longer than 6 months. This is mostly not the agency’s fault, because they want process to conclude quickly too. Stick with it and build a relationship with your recruiter, you are in it together!

8. Agencies are too pushy,  resulting in hours on the phone being promised the earth. All of this when the candidate has only agreed to being “open to talking” and is NOT looking for a job. Say NO firmly if you are not interested. A professional recruiter will get the message.

9. Lack of understanding The number-one pet peeve of all candidates is talking to misinformed, condescending, and unoriginal generalists or entry-level recruiters. Find yourself a specialist with whom you feel comfortable. You must be able to trust your representative!

10. Sending CVs without permission This is against the law! It breaches the Employment Agencies Act and violates your rights in terms of the Data Protection Act.

Written by Cathy Richardson

September 12, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Recruitment

Guide to Job Hunting: What Candidates want from Agencies

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So what are job seekers looking for when they enter the recruitment market? If you can tick these boxes about your relationship with a recruitment consultant, it means you are having a positive experience!

1. Talking to someone who is knowledgeable about their background, their company, what their potential career path may be, and who can have an unbiased conversation about options that exist.

2. Entering an interview process that is transparent.

3. Getting courtesy and honesty, to the effect of, “What we have is ‘no’ for now, but not forever. We value your time and are sorry about the outcome.”

4. Having someone help them go through the online application process or be on hand and be knowledgeable about the system.

5. Getting advice and information on what they must do with their CV to improve their chances at getting the job 

6. Having an honest conversation about objections to their history or past experience, and being allowed to counter.

7. Getting help on resigning and also being granted some flexibility on start dates if they have real plans to travel, have surgeries, or a need to keep a schedule of their former employer.

8. Being asked for feedback on the questions asked during the interview process or what they felt were high and low points of the interaction. THis helps objectivity in decision-making.

9. Having flexibility in the process and a chance for their questions to be answered versus being interrogated without any real dialogue about their concerns.

1o. Being treated with respect at every level regardless of whether they are the right candidate.

I’d be very happy to hear from you if you have anything additional to add!

As a Recruitment Consultant – If the worst outcome you get is that every candidate that you interact with wants you to represent them as their Agent for Life, that is not a bad thing.

As a Candidate, if you get treated fairly and openly during the process you will be positive about the service and tell everyone about it. That is a win-win in everyone’s book!

Written by Cathy Richardson

September 5, 2011 at 10:18 am

Posted in Recruitment

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