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 the ‘cv tips’ Category

A view from my new Apprentice

leave a comment »


SJ

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!”

To all our special people, on Valentine’s Day

with 3 comments


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!

5 interview questions asked by great candidates

leave a comment »


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!

leave a comment »


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!

Happy Christmas everyone!

leave a comment »


Cath13If you haven’t noticed, its Christmas! 2013 has sped past in a blur and barely have we recovered from the events of last New Year’s Eve when Christmas seems to have crept up on us again.

At Christmas, I sometimes get a bit philosophical. Maybe it has to do with most of my family spending their Christmas on a hot beach in South Africa. Maybe it has to do with my own children growing up. This means that our Christmas is changing to accommodate different geographic locations, evolving relationships and generally, life and its changes. Maybe it has to do with all the yoga I do so regularly – Perhaps I am turning into a philosopher through head stands! All that blood in one’s head must have some eventual impact!

Whatever the reason for my philosophical turn: This year, I feel immensely grateful about Christmas. I am grateful for health, for people who love and care for me, and for finding out that life can be totally brilliant when you least expect it. I am grateful for so much that listing them here will be impossible.

Sometimes, we forget about the little things. Christmas can be so “BIG” that we overlook the really important little things while we try to live up to expectations. Those expectations are totally imposed on ourselves by ourselves. And then, when everything is over and the wrapping paper disposed of, we are left empty and disappointed because nothing can ever live up to those unrealistic expectations.

This year, I am taking Christmas easily. I am enjoying the twinkling of lights and the off-key sound of the choir at the carol concert. I am loving my Christmas jumper. I am enjoying the reactions of my loved ones to gifts that are, for a change, thougthful and useful, rather than expensive and impressive. I am taking time to taste the mulled wine, to feel “Jingle Bell Rock” tickling my toes, to enjoy every bite of rich celebration food. I will worry about the thousands of extra calories next year!

For this, I am most deeply grateful: Discovering that being mindful of the little things, make the big things so much easier.

And this is my Christmas wish for everyone I know: That you may be blessed with the time to enjoy, to be jolly, and to make the best of this festive season without judging or false expectations. Just have a simply wonderful, blessed and joyful Christmas!

Guide to Job Hunting – The lingering Death of the CV

leave a comment »


RIP

Back in the day, when I first started my recruitment career (And I will have you know it’s not SUCH a long time ago!) such a thing as the Internet or online databases didn’t exist. In fact, we didn’t even have computers, other than for typing up CVs in WordPerfect – A job for which a special CV typist was employed. We hand delivered CVs to our clients, and the advent of the fax machine was a major technological leap forward in our communication with candidates and clients.

I had all my candidates in a hanging file system next my desk, my client contacts where in a Rolodex and clients trusted my judgement enough to arrange interviews directly on the phone with candidates I had interviewed, but whose CVs they have not even seen.

Shuffle on 20+ years (Yes, I am indeed that old!) and the face of the recruitment sector has totally changed. Sadly, trust went out of the window long ago, as soon as recruitment became commoditised and everyone forgot that there is no price to be placed on strong business relationships. However, that is probably the subject of a different, far more wistful blog post! This one is about candidates and CVs, so I will not digress.

Nowadays, if you want to be a candidate and find yourself a new job, you have to be in more than just one recruiter’s hanging files to have a ghost of a chance, at least. Your ksills are now a commodity too.  Paper CVs have long gone out of the window and now, you have several electronic versions. In fact, your actual CV may soon be obsolete because technology is developing so quickly that you can now find a job without even having a CV at all, depending on the sector you find yourself in.

Of course, not all industries evolve at the same pace in this regard, and if you are an engineer then your technical skills will probably still be the most important thing. And having these written down on an e-paper CV, honestly and solidly, will probably still be valid for a long time. But if you work in Sales or Management, then I can almost guarantee that your online brand will soon have to be very close to equal your personal one, if you want to excel and do well. And what’s on your CV must reflect what can be found online, support it and extend it.

Because trust is thin on the ground nowadays, expect the recruiting manager or hiring manager to check you out online well beofr eyou even get to interview stage. And who knows? This may even be where they you first, so that you don’t even get to the point of applying for a job or sending in a CV at all!

They are likely to look at any (Or a combination of):

1) The top ten searches on your name on either Google or Bing,

2) The number of Twitter followers you have, the last time you tweeted and what you tweeted about

3) The size and quality of your LinkedIn community

4) The number and quality of recommendations you have on LinkedIn and

5) Your Klout score.

This means that, eventually and in the not-so-distant future,  your slightly old-fashioned CV will most likely be replaced by the breadth and depth of your personal brand.

And as candidates catch on to employers’ focus on their Internet presence, they will shift their methods accordingly. Taking the lead from innovative applicants like Shawn McTigue, who made this 2:50 video as part of his application to a Mastercard internship, more workers will take a creative approach to marketing their experience instead of sending out there CVs.

However we do it, we will all have to accept that a one-page summary of our professional histories, expertise, skills, and achievements – that which we think of as a “CV” – will no longer act as our differentiation in the job market.

Start working on your online brand now – Engage, share content, add value. It will be the best investment you can possibly make in your own future.

Guide to job hunting: How to shine at interviews Part 1

leave a comment »


fallen runnerIt’s crunch time – You have a job interview, so you are in the race! After weeks of sending CVs, following up, getting turned down, following up, speaking to people, leaving messages, following up, you finally have a date and time confirmed. The finish line is within sight and there, just on the other side, is the prize: That job you are after.

But have you ever watched a race, and see someone crash out just before they reach the finish line? What a disappointment!

Sadly, many interviewees fail at interview – Not because they don’t have the right skills or weak CVs, but because they don’t shine in the interview. A good CV can get you through the door, but if you don’t follow through in the interview you will fail. Like that runner in the race, who trained and worked hard to get there in the first place, the job isn’t done until after you cross the finish line.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help yourself along and I will explore these in the next few blog posts.

1. Don’t get over excited!

Relax, think clearly and take some time to make sure exactly why you want this job, and why it’s worth fighting for. Desperation means going in half cocked. Instead, prepare thoroughly and make sure you are relaxed on the day, so that you can perform to your own best advantage. Nerves can be controlled. If you manage to keep yourself calm you are setting yourself up for a fabulous interview.

2. Be likable

Obvious? And critical. Making a great first impression and establishing a real connection is everything. Smile, make eye contact, be enthusiastic, sit forward in your chair, use the interviewer’s name…. Be yourself, but be the best version of yourself you possibly can. We all want to work with people we like and who like us. Use that basic fact to your advantage. Coming across as arrogant, conceited, difficult, or simply self-absorbed are likely to trip you up very quickly.
3. Don’t be desperate

Never start the interview by saying you want the job. Why? Because you simply don’t know yet. False commitment is, well, false. Instead…
4. Explore

Ask questions about what really matters to you. Focus on making sure the job is a good fit: Who you will work with, who you will report to, the scope of responsibilities, etc. Interviews should always be two-way, and interviewers respond positively to people as eager as they are to find the right fit. Plus there’s really no other way to know you want the job. And don’t be afraid to ask several questions. As long as you don’t take completely take over, the interviewer will enjoy and remember a nice change of pace. It’s a good idea to take a writing pad and pen, with pre-prepared questions but jot down new ones as you go along, and take notes for future reference.
5. Set a hook

A sad truth of interviewing is that later, the interviewer may not remember a tremendous amount about you — Especially if they’ve interviewed a number of candidates for the same job. Later you might be referred to as, “The guy with the shiny shoes,” or, “The woman with the funny accent,” or, “The chap who grew up in Wales.” These identifiers are known as hooks, and you can use them to your advantage. Hooks could be clothing (within reason), or outside interests, or unusual facts about your upbringing or career. Hooks make you memorable and create an anchor for interviewers to remember you by — and being memorable is everything. The best hooks are work related – For obvious reasons. If you can set something that will make you memorable and remind them of a particular skill, you will have gained a real advantage. An unusual or even humourous story that reflects on your strength areas, or a specific succesful outcome or achievement, will bring light relief to the interviewer and make you memorable for all the right reasons.

NEXT WEEK – Even more ideas about how to shine and be memorable at interview

%d bloggers like this: