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

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Guide to #job hunting: 5 most common interview blunders

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Ever wondered why an interview you thought went swimmingly well, ended up failing? Read on – The reasons might be in here!

1. Talking too much

Good communication is about sharing information, so make sure that the conversation works both ways and isn’t all led by you. Listen equally as much as you talk, and allow silence from time to time to gather thoughts, both for you and the interviewer.

Being critical of a past employer also falls into this category. If you have nothing nice to say, rather say nothing at all.

2. Issues with time

If you’re serious about the job you need to show it by giving it your full attention. This means arriving on time (Or preferably, a tiny bit earlier to show you’re keen.) Don’t make other arrangements for directly  after your interview. Clock watching is rude and distracting – It also means you are racing to finish the interview, resulting in a power struggle with the interviewer who might wan to go at a slower pace. At the other extreme, don’t overstay your welcome either. When the interview concludes, say thank you and leave. Hanging around too long can destroy a good interview.

3. Preparation – Or not!

Over preparation is just as bad as not preparing at all. Arriving at an interview not knowing anything about the job or company is a no-brainer. Maximise your chances by researching the job, the company, the interviewers. It proves you are interested, proactive and willing to learn.

But over preparing can also shoot you in the foot, especially if you insist on trailing through extensive presentations or going on at length about what you know about the company. Use the information you have gathered to direct your answers and questions, and go with the flow of the interview.

4. Inappropriate grooming and dress

You can always take the tie off! This falls into the preparation category, but it’s so sad that often, people ruin their chances by not dressing appropriately. My grandmother always said you can never be too tidy – This certainly goes for interviews too. Make sure you know the corporate dress code, and dress accordingly but be very careful for “Business casual”. This can mean jeans in one company, and a loosening of the tie in another. Always ask, and if you’re not sure err on the side of caution and go for a suit. As for personal hygiene and cleanliness: Again, a no-brainer! But you will be surprised how often people get turned down after good job interviews for smelling oddly or looking grubby.

5. Poor listening skills

One mouth, two ears – Use them in that proportion! Not listening to questions properly will mean you are unlikely to answer appropriately. The danger here is assuming you know what the question is before it’s been fully asked. So you may go off at a tangent, leaving the interviewer bemused and you without a job. Taking time to listen opens the door to two-way conversation, and that is what interviews are all about!

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.

 

 

 

 

Exciting new automotive jobs in Coventry – Advertised in the Telegraph Online

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We are very pleased to be partnering with DENSO Sales UK to recruit Account Managers and Applications Engineers for their Coventry site.

DENSO is a leading supplier of advanced automotive technology, systems and components for most of the world’s major automakers. Operating in 35 countries, employing approximately 123,000 employees, DENSO has a significant global presence.

DENSO Sales UK has seen rapid growth in the development and sales of DENSO products including thermal systems, powertrain control systems, electronic systems and electrical systems, to a wide range of manufacturers in the mass and luxury vehicle, off-highway and motorcycle sectors.

All employees work towards a common goal: developing innovative automotive systems. The key to this process is quality. To achieve this we believe that ongoing investment in both the quality of our products and our people is what ensures our position of leadership.

In the role of Sales Application Engineer and/or Account Manager you will take responsibility for commercial and / or technical liaison with the customer in relation to specific new and ongoing projects, based on particular product areas.

The main focus of the role is the management of the lifecycle of automotive manufacturing projects from business acquisition to phase out. You will handle issues relating to the commercial and / or technical aspects of customer projects, liaising with both our customers and DENSO internal departments, including DENSO Japan and manufacturing sites worldwide.

Key commercial aspects of the role will involve you in the development of product sales strategies, sales expansion activities and developing effective customer relationships.

Application engineering activities include, project planning, measurement/analysis of data, prototype management, design validation activities, vehicle installation checks, engineering sign-off and promotion of DENSO technologies.

The ideal candidate will preferably have a degree in electrical or mechanical engineering or similar qualifications/relevant experience and have a passion for technical products. Experience of working in the O.E. automotive sector (Tier 1 supply) in engineering or in a similar application engineering/technical sales role would be highly desirable. Past experience within automotive powertrain, thermal, HVAC, rotating electrics, or similar product areas are of particular interest, however a good depth of commercial or technical product management experience in a Tier 1 context with other products will also be considered. Strong communication and negotiation skills are essential.

There will be a requirement to travel in the UK on a frequent basis and occasionally to European and Global locations as business needs dictate.

For more information, please forward your CV to recruitment@cathyrich.co.uk, or call 0845 269 9085 for more information.

This link will take you to the Telegraph Online:  http://bit.ly/uwZfFL where you can also apply

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting – Writing a CV for jobs boards

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With more and more jobs being advertised online, putting your CV on an online jobs board is one of the most effective ways to find a new job. In fact, its a no brainer! There is such an online explosion in the recruitment industry that NOT being on a jobs board is a bit like trying to fish in a lake without water.

But how do you get the best from the jobs boards?

1. Understand the service

A jobs board is a bit like a huge pond full of fish, where recruiters and employers try to find job seekers who have the skills and experience they need to fulfill their needs. In line with UK employment legislation, the job seekers get a free service and the searchers have to pay. On most boards, you can both register your CV and also apply to get free job alerts. This means you will get an email whenever a job that matches your criteria is posted onto the jobs board, making it easier for you to apply.

Employers and recruiters subscribe to the jobs board and pay to not only post jobs, but also the search the databases for candidates. Just like searching on Google, the results of a jobs board search appear in ranked order. The person searching for candidates will pop in some keywords and search criteria, and the search engine will deliver a list of results with those that most conform to the criteria at the top of the search. So it makes sense that if you want to be at the top of the list, you have to use the search criteria in your CV.

2. Optimise your key words

So this breaks the common rules of CV writing a bit. But after all, you can always improve the look and feel of your CV to actually send to the employer! The main purpose of this particular CV is to be found on the database and to appear as high as possible in the rankings so the recruiter can read it first.

Optimising  means that you have to anticipate what the searcher is going to be looking for. It’s not that difficult: Use common keywords like the name of your industry, the job title, the systems you use, the products you sell, and so on in your CV. Its surprising, for example, how many people work in the automotive industry but never use that word in their CV, not even once!  

Then extend your key words to include derivatives. For example, use both Independent Aftermarket and IAM. Or for technical terms: Include both FEAD and Front End Auxiliary Drive. This does seem like overstatement, however the anticipation is that the person inputting the search might not actually understand the meaning of the terms, or even know that there are acronyms that are industry jargon.

3. Don’t be afraid to name drop!

If you work in a specific industry or specialist area, name the brands or products. For example, a candidate who states that he has experience of “selling Bosch engine diagnostic tools and equipment to the garage / automotive trade” will have higher returns in searches than those who purely put “Sales of automotive tools”. Often, these trade names become incorporated in industry specific language (Think of Hoover!). You will know what is relevant to your industry – Use it!

4. Use the tick boxes sensibly

To make the search easier, most jobs boards ask candidates to tick boxes to show their preferences (Location, salary, industry, permanent or temporary, etc). Be careful of being too specific here, as it might discount you in searches but don’t be so broad that you appear in every single search. Just consider your true expectations and reflect these in the boxes that you tick because this will be used to filter the searches.

5. If you’ve got it, flaunt it!

Of course your CV should reflect your skills, experience, qualifications and achievements. But the language and actual words you use to describe these will make the difference between floating to the top of the database search results, or being left at the bottom of the pool.   The lesson here being, if you’ve got it, flaunt it!

And don’t be afraid to state the obvious either – If you leave something for assumption, the likelihood is that the assumption will be wrong because you don’t know who is doing the search!

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 26 – Ask the Experts how to use Recruitment Agencies

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I am very excited about being invited by the Guardian newspaper to be part of an expert panel on their Career website on Wednesday 17th August.

The main subject of the webcast will be Recruitment Consultants, how to deal with them, what to expect from them and, ultimately, how to get the best out of them.

I often meet job applicants who are totally disillusioned by the job hunting scene. People who feel that no one cares to listen to their problems, nobody responds back to their job applications and there seems to be no interest in their plight to find a suitable job. And I am sure, regardless of how hard I try personally to deal with my own candidates, thatsome of them too might be fed up by trickling information streams and a lack of suitable positions.

I am always very upfront with candidates: I am not able to help everyone. If only I was Superwoman – I would flash my cape and jiggle mybelt and there would be jobs, feedback and opportunities for everyone. But the reality of today’s employment market and the continual commercialisation of the recruitment process means that having one brain and two hands seem to be a real limiting factor to us humans!

Listening to and participating in the Guardian Careers podcast might dispel some of the myths and give candidates real advice on how to best engage with the recruitment world.

Join us on Wednesday 17 August between 1pm and 4pm – advance questions are welcome – on http://careers.guardian.co.uk/recruitment-agencies

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 25 – When did you last update your CV?

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Yes, when DID you last update your CV?

If you are actively looking for a job, it makes sense to have your CV as current as possible. However, I often find that, when I speak to candidates, the CV’s posted online or used to apply to jobs are, in fact, sometimes well out of date! This means that, before your CV can be sent in to a job, it has to be brought up to date. Obviously, we have to supply a recruiting client with fresh information but more importantly, the information LEFT OUT of your CV might actually be the stuff that could get you the job. And wasting the time to get the updated details sorted out, might actually cost you dearly in terms of time. How disappointing if you are pipped to the post for the job of dreams because your CV was out of date ….

1.   Starting and leaving dates

If you are made redundant, make sure the date when you left the last employment is on your CV. This makes it clear that you are immediately available, and also opens up opportunities for temporary or interim work. This will be overlooked by recruiters seeking people currently NOT employed; If you don’t have a leaving date on your last job, the assumption will be that you are still working.

2.  Add your current activities

If you did suffer redundancy or left work for a different reason, mention this on your CV, with the dates. If it was a while ago, make it clear what you have been doing since. It is true that people who are gainfully occupied seem to do better in the recruitment stakes. If you mention nothing and your leaving date is not recent, the assumption might be that you have been twiddling your thumbs – Not a good impression to give those who are in control of selection processes! They are likely to choose people who show resilience, pro-activity and a willingness to work so mention what you have been doing and make it clear that this is just an interim solution until you find “proper” employment again.

3.  Update targets, regions and figures

Any recent changes in your job should be reflected in your CV. This gives the recruiter an idea of exactly what your current skills are. This might also cast light on your reasons for looking to move on. If your role was restructured, point that out. Numbers are always a good idea in a CV anyway, so make sure they are fresh: For example, how many people you manage, how large your region is, how you are targeted, etc. This will give a clear picture of the context of your job and responsibility, as well as achievements.

4.  Contact details

It seems illogical, but amazingly I often get CVs with out of date mobile numbers or email addresses. Worse are those that have no contact telephone numbers at all!  There is no point in leaving your contact details off your CV, or not keeping them fresh. Under pressure, the recruiter will try once or twice and then move on to those candidates they can actually contact.

5.  Courses and qualifications

Again, make sure that your CV contains all your qualifications. If you do any courses, these should be mentioned as well. It might give you an unexpected competitive advantage so add them in as soon as you have proof of obtaining the qualification. If the qualification is still in process, mention the anticipated finish date in your CV as well.

6.  Update the jobs boards

When you upload a fresh CV onto an online database, it’s really important to check that the active online CV is your newest one. Delete old CVs to make sure that only your freshest information is on file. This means that only the freshest information will go out to prospective jobs, employers or recruiters.

Not actively job seeking?

Having a fresh CV is still  very important. You can use it during your probationary or appraisal meetings to discuss your progress, or to apply for internal roles that will give you career progression. Or what if an unexpected headhunt call comes in offering you an opportunity that you might not have anticipated? Taking time to prepare a CV might lose you the opportunity!

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 24 – Why you must use social media

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The world of job hunting has totally changed in the recent past. 3 years ago, you would have bought the Thursday edition of a well-known daily newspaper to look for your next job. I bought the same paper a few weeks ago to prove this point  to a recruiting client: There were less than 2 full pages of jobs! And those were mostly government contracts – A truly disappointing show, had I been desperate to find a commercial job for myself.

There is no doubt that the entire vacancy and recruitment advertising industry have made a fundamental shift to online several years ago. And the volumes of advertising response on online vacancies prove that the candidate market has twigged that fact – If you want a job, you must post your CV online. However, this market is rapidly becoming so oversubscribed that agencies and employers are now finding it difficult to deal with the sheer volume of responses and this in turn, has a knock on impact on time scales and cost. This is probably one of the reasons why job applicants become so frustrated with the lack of response from the recruitment industry. But the reality is that very few agencies have the resources to respond to every single application because the volumes are simply too large. For this reason, many online ads now carry disclaimers stating that only successful applicants will be contacted.

And as with all things online, the market is responding to these pressures by moving on!

Although the jobs boards will undoubtedly still be around for a long time, recruiters need to find a more ready resource pool of candidates – A source that is targeted, specific, cheap and easy to reach. So it makes sense that they would go to online networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (Amongst others) to find the people they need to fulfil the jobs they have.

Finding a new job is essentially about promoting yourself, your skills and abilities. It is, fundamentally, a sales and marketing exercise. So putting yourself in places where potential employers or recruiters can find you, is a sure-fire way of increasing your visibility and therefore, your chances of getting the job you want.

This means getting a full and up to date profile on LinkedIn, and making sure that your Facebook page does not contain pictures of drunken brawls or content that might detract from your personal brand. But most importantly, it means that you have to ENGAGE, ENGAGE, ENGAGE because that is what social media is all about. 

If you sit waiting for something to happen, it most likely won’t. And as with everything in life, how much you put in is what you are likely to get out. And yes, it does take some time to deliver results.

However, if you want to find a job, career or employer spend your time wisely: Invest in building up a social media profile. It will be a sound investment, if you keep working at it!

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 22 – Successful Telephone Interviews

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Often, telephone interviews are used at the first stage of recruitment processes – And the selection process can be ruthless! These are usually scheduled in bulk and the interviewers have to wade through many interviews to find the candidates they want to invite for a face to face meeting, so time is usually of the essence. To facilitate this, they would normally use a highly structured approach to get the particular pieces of information from a candidate required to either select or deselect.

Telephone interviews are also often used where there are large distances involved but generally, the rules of engagement are the same.

Always remember that, because there are no opportunities to include body language to build rapport or emphasise strengths, telephone communication is different to personal conversation. The importance of listening and answering concisely are magnified. So are bad communication habits like using continual filler words or veering off the subject, so be careful!

1. Conduct the call in a quiet place

Select a place where you will be uninterrupted for the duration of the call, free from kitchen noises, crying children, barking dogs or noisy televisions or radios. This will help you to hear them clearly, and for them to have a better sound from your side.

2. Preferably use a landline

Mobile service can sometimes be unreliable and you don’t want to lose the connection in mid flow! Landline reception is also generally more reliable for clarity. If you must use your mobile, make sure you are out of the wind and that you have full battery and a good signal.

3. Give your undivided attention

Tone of voice is magnified on the telephone – If you are distracted by documents or a computer screen it will translate in your voice. Also, listen very carefully so that you can give concise and targeted answers.

4. Prepare, prepare!

Review the company website, make notes as the interview continues and have questions ready. Keep your CV and the job spec at hand. Waffle, time lapses or quiet moments are magnified on the telephone so avoid them by preparing properly and maintaining your focus.

5. Sound enthusiastic and well-mannered

Without body language, facial expression or non-verbal signals to rely on, the interviewer will listen out for vocal signs indicating passion, professionalism and enthusiasm. Allow them to get a sense of your personality but never be too casual in your choice of words or tone of voice. Standing up and smiling is a telesales technique that holds true: the smile translates in your voice. On the telephone, it’s not just what you say but how you say it that is magnified, especially if you are not blessed with a melodious speaking voice, perfect diction or flawless accent. Be aware of these, speak slowly and clearly and don’t rabbit on too much once you have answered the question.

6. Closing and Follow up

The same rules count as for normal interviews: Ask about timescales and next steps, and later follow-up with a thank you message. Here, you can summarise the conversation and reinforce our best selling points.

Where have all the UK Automotive Aftermarket BDMs gone?

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We are currently recruiting for a number of regional sales positions across the UK.

Our customers are all well-respected, key OE brands supplying the independent automotive aftermarket. The traditional routes to market are followed, with business relationships through all the major buying groups (Parts Alliance, IFA, GA, CAARS and Rapid) as well as all the major distributors and range builders (FPS, ECP, Unipart, Firstline, ADL, etc).

All these roles offer some form of career advancement opportunity, whether  in the short term due to planned growth or in the medium term due to succession planning. The product ranges are diverse, ranging from exhausts and catalytic converters to spark plugs, engine electrical parts and steering / suspension components, all targting the passenger car industry.

I would be happy to speak to anyone working in a sales role in the aftermarket to find out if these roles will tick your boxes, and whether you have the skills and experience to fulfill my clients needs. Please call me on 0845 269 9085, or send your CV to recruitment@cathyrich.co.uk so that we can have an informed conversation.

Or, if you are not actively job searching yourself, what about referring your friend? We offer £350-00 for quality referrals that result in placements – More information can be found in the candidate area of  our website at www.cathyrich.co.uk/

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 16: What to do at Interviews

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A job interview can be an especially stressful and even overwhelming experience.

I was delighted to find that, in my recent issue of Toastmasters magazine, they dedicate several pages on tips for job interviews, with some really useful advice and information on how to create the best personal impression. I liked it so much, I decided to include it in my blog so the next few weeks will be dedicated to Toastmasters, and will cover the “speaking” part of your job interview.

So, how do you feel about preparing for an interview? Are you excited, or maybe nervous … Not sure what to expect …. Maybe you feel like everything is riding on the interview – the job, your career your life.

But they don’t have to be stressful and daunting – In fact you can even enjoy having a good interview! Focus all your energy and take the recommendations from others to give your best possible performance and to present yourself as the candidate of choice.

Start off strong

Arrive at the location early – 10 to 15 minutes before the appointed time. That way, you can put the final polish on your appearance and be calm when you walk through the door. Greet everyone you encounter with a smile and firm handshake.

Don’t assume anything

People often assume that the interviewer remembers what is in the CV and cover letter. Don’t fall into this trap. Ideally, the interviewer would have had time to focus on your application before the interview, but all too often people are busy and this doesn’t always happen.

For example, they might have interviewed several people that day for the same job. Maybe they received your CV from the HR department just before meeting you. Or perhaps they read your CV the week before, and haven’t had time to revisit it since. If you assume they already know what you have to offer, you will miss opportunities to present yourself as the strongest candidate possible.

When you greet the interviewer, offer an additional copy of your CV. They will most likely have a copy and decline, so don’t insist but taking an extra copy proves that you are prepared.

It’s not only about your PAID experience

When discussing your skills, experience and accomplishments, don’t hesitate to use relevant anecdotes from other facets of your life. For example, for graduate roles, classroom activities such as group projects can provide good examples to employers of how you can contribute.

What the interviewer is listening out for is that you really care about what you did, what the situation was and how you handled it. Someone who has experienced a challenging situation and responded to it in a creative, dynamic way is a desirable person in any team.

Next time: How to answer questions

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