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 February 2014

CAT Magazine announce more developments for Parts Alliance and CRA

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PA article

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 Cathy Richardson

February 20, 2014 at 11:58 am

Posted in Recruitment

5 questions not to ask at interview (And more!)

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Bad questions

Towards the end of an interview, almost every employer will ask, “Do you have any questions for me?” Job applicants should put just as much thought into asking questions as they do answering questions. Whether you intend it or not, each question you ask has the potential to reflect your knowledge of the company, your interest in the position, and your work ethic.

That’s why it’s important take the time to come up with thoughtful questions for each interview. Here’s a list of interview questions to ask the employer you can use as a starting point for creating your own list of questions.

Last week, I blogged about the good questions candidates ask. This week, I thought it only fair to look at which questions definitely not to ask at interview.

1. What is the salary for this position?
Do not ask this question on a first interview. If you know that you will refuse a job that pays less than a certain amount, you can state the amount in your cover letter. However, if you are even somewhat flexible regarding salary, it is best not to discuss compensation until you are offered a position. Wait until the appropriate time. Sooner or later, they will want to know how much you want to earn. Don’t ask until the interviewer raises the subject. If you do, you risk looking greedy and motivated by the wrong things.

2. What does your company do?

Errr….. Should you have checked the website before you accepted the interview offer? Avoid asking any questions about the company that you could have researched beforehand on the company website. These questions demonstrate that you have not done your research, and imply that you are not interested in the position.

3. When can I take time off for vacation?
Do not discuss previous commitments before being offered a position. Asking about time off before getting a job offer implies that you are not going to be a fully committed employee.

4. How many hours will I be expected to work each work? Will I need to work on weekends? WHen do I get holiday?
Questions about hours and extra work imply that you are hoping to work as little as possible. A better question would be, “What is a typical workday like?” The answer will likely give you insight into expected work hours.

5. Did I get the job?

This question puts employers on the spot and makes you appear impatient. Instead, you could ask for more information on the next step in the hiring process. For example, you can ask, “Do you generally do multiple rounds of interviews with job candidates?” However, if they are interested in you, most employers will give you this information before the end of the interview.

And a few more, for good measure:

  • What is the astrological sign of the company president?
  • Can I see the break room?
  • How late can I be to work without getting fired?
  • How long is lunch?
  • Can I bring my dog to work?
  • Will I have to take a drug test?
  • Does this company monitor Internet usage?
  • How many warnings do you get before you are fired?

Written by Cathy Richardson

February 17, 2014 at 10:11 am

Posted in Recruitment

An exciting new job opportunity in the Parts Aftermarket – London area

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SDM ad

Written by Cathy Richardson

February 14, 2014 at 10:33 am

Posted in Recruitment

To all our special people, on Valentine’s Day

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A special message to all the lovely clients, candidates, followers and contacts that make my working life great!

If Valentines Day did not exist,
No flowers, gifts or cards,
We'd search to find another way
To send you our regards.
We must communicate to you
Appreciation and respect,
Hoping our heartfelt message
Has a warm and good effect.
But Valentine's Day is here again,
So we send this poem to say:
You're extraordinary, special, rare;
Happy Valentine's Day!

Interesting views on the Sales market from the Reed survey

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Reed Survey

Written by Cathy Richardson

February 12, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Recruitment

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.

Sales jobs on the increase

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increaseThings are looking up for job seekers in 2014 – not least for sales roles

According to the latest JobsOutlook survey of employers by the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation), things are looking up on the jobs front.

Asked about workforce plans in 2014, 64% of employers intend to hire more permanent staff in the first quarter, nine percentage points higher than this time last year. 56% intend to make more permanent hires in the next 4-12 months.

Kevin Green, Chief Executive of the REC, says a spike in demand for sales staff over the last quarter of 2013 was particularly telling. “This is good news fo job seekers. Compared with the same time last year, businesses are far more willing to commit to taking on more staff as they see demand for their products and services returning”, he says.

This is great news for industry, and a sure sign that the UK economy is stabilising. Long may it continue!

Written by Cathy Richardson

February 4, 2014 at 9:13 am

Posted in Recruitment

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