Advantages Only for the employer
Disadvantages Only for the employee
R for Recruitment agenciesEarlier in 2009 I was made redundant from my job & started the process of looking for another. This was the first time in my working life I was without work.
Things have changed considerably in the job market since the last time I looked for work & the stark realities of recruitment agencies have now been brought to my attention.
All those previous job vacancies were filled during ‘boom times’ when unemployment was low & competition for work wasn’t too bad. How things have changed, each job now has a large number of people applying making it even tougher.
Previous jobs I had applied for rarely needed a CV, I remember going for an interview straight from the garage where I worked in tatty clothes, no CV, no smart suit & tie, no assessments or biometric tests, just me explaining about myself & what I was capable of doing. Right there & then I was offered the job. Fantastic, if only it was that simple now.
You are not going to get far these days without an up to date CV, you may get asked what is a CV for? Many would say it’s to help you get a job. Its not, a CV will help a prospective employer get a first impression of you & may lead to he or she making further enquires & the possibility of an interview.
Your CV is like a market stall, you way you ‘set it out’ is so important. Imagine having a market stall with goods of little interest to attract buyers, they would all walk past & spend nothing. You want something that generates interest & has everybody browsing at your stall first before they look elsewhere. Your CV is in a similar situation. The average employer will only look at the first two pages of a CV for around 20-30 seconds that is all you get to capture their interest so the CV has to be good.
Keep it brief (two pages), keep it factual, give contact details, just go back ten years etc, there is loads of advice out there. However, my last CV from the mid 1990s was made up by a friend of the family who could work a computer in those days; she had much experience of building CVs at the time so I basically copied the format of her original one.
This style of CV came from a template I was given after I volunteered to attend a job search seminar locally. The seminar was set up for young people leaving school with out any qualifications & no job experience. The day I attended nine other delegates failed to turn up so I was given a ‘one to one’ session from a very experienced gentleman with many years experience in recruitment & HR.
I have one copy of the CV on my lap top as many will be requested via websites, but you have to be prepared to send hard copies to companies & I was advised to print them off on good quality paper. Some agencies advise using coloured paper. Apparently when the prospective employer gets deluged with CVs & files them away, a coloured version will always be reselected first. However I was told at the seminar to stick to plain white & nothing else!
The first recruitment company I spoke to advised me to make up an achievement list, they said take three or four items you have achieved over the years & list them down with some details.
I immediately thought of the green flag I won in the 100 yards sack race at school & my Tufty badge & certificate I earned when I was six for crossing the road safely. Surprisingly that wasn’t what they were thinking!!
THE JOB ADVERTS
If you do get one that makes sense look for the abbreviations that agencies having the knack of inserting in their ads, the sort of thing I mean is like OTE, FMCG, DOE, CRM, OEM, KPI, CPD, SAP, ABDP, FM, IFM & DAS, confused? Well at the end of this review I have listed an S.W.A.M.L. (That is a Scottish Westie abbreviation master list) just to help you.
Where are the best places for the best jobs? I found the local press disappointing, obviously it’s the best for local jobs but vacancies left a lot to be desired. There was a greater choice via the Internet but it does mean finding as many job agencies as you can & save their home page on your Internet browser.
One form had to be filled in by hand although it came off the computer; many companies still look at hand writing as an important aspect in the process of looking at candidates. My last company absolutely insisted on a hand written letter when applying for the job.
Fill in your applications forms carefully & don’t put false details in as you will get caught out, make no mistake. I know one chap who inserted information about his last job in the Middle East in a high ranking position which never existed, three months after getting the job he was sacked when they found out it was all false.
You don’t always get the benefits of permanent work when you choose temporary jobs but at least if you get lumbered with a bad employer it’s only on a temporary basis. My partner used to do temp work & found it hard going, if your not a car owner, being sent to all corners of a busy city can be time consuming & expensive if your wage is quite low. You were also under a lot of pressure to learn new systems & peoples names & roles for what could be a job lasting a week.
But according to a market analysis by Ochre House, full-time interim managers who have dominated the contract and temporary market in recent years are in danger of being ousted by a growing wave of redundant professionals.
They found that over 70% of organisations recruiting senior personnel on a fixed or short-term basis would prefer someone coming from a permanent role.
For me there are a large number of recruitment agencies that specialise in motor industry jobs. In the motor industry alone there are at least 120 different job descriptions such as:
This was my first port of call & in particular the most well known agencies who have been in business for decades & specialise in motor industry recruitment. As I was about to find out, just like any other industry there is good & bad. Within a period of two weeks I contacted 28 separate agencies not all dedicated to the motor industry, some had a rich & diverse portfolio.
However, many didn’t even acknowledge receipt of your details & then I had the laborious task of phoning & emailing them to ensure they had my details. It was then you begin to realise you have little hope of employment if I was to put my faith in them.
Some recruitment companies send you an email every day with the latest jobs but there lies the next problem. They would send you a message stating “Good news, we have 12 new jobs for you”, so you click on to their site, log in & discover that the 12 jobs are all exactly the same job but it has been listed by 12 separate recruitment agents using the main one as a ‘Trojan horse’ site.
One of the better agencies ‘called me in’ for an interview locally & tried to establish my key skills (not basic skills) to see if that would increase my chances of a decent job. They were basically doing what I had to do when looking for work & establish the various roles my previous job had & look for individual jobs linked to some of the roles.
It must be hard for them at present being deluged with unemployed people looking for work but I will name & shame the ones that messed me about.
Perfect Placement: Communicated a number of times with job offers but I had to chase them for follow ups, they would leave you hanging on for days before getting back to you.
PG Automotive: I would apply for jobs & the criteria asked for by the employer would be exactly what they required, but this agency refused to submit my application & despite asking why, they would never reply to me. I was later informed that many agencies are asked to submit a certain number of candidates; if they get deluged with too many they simply ignore the extra ones.
Steele Dixon: The best of them all, good communications with advice but lacked choice of jobs.
Within a couple of weeks my first job offer came up through an agency in London offering me a workshop controller’s job at a dealership close to home. This was a job I did 20 years ago & the wages weren’t great but ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ & I needed the work. The agency admired my CV but then stated it would also work against me. The more qualifications you have the more it puts off some prospective employers as they think you will use them as ‘stop gap ‘measure until something better comes along. How frustrating you spend a lifetime trying to better yourself & gain as many qualifications & experience as you can only to find you are over qualified for a job you once did!
Second job came up the next day with an unknown car maker, I emailed my CV & details & a week later got a phone call from the recruitment agency handling the application.
Would I be prepared to go the next stage & have an assessment carried out I was asked. I agreed to it & was booked for the week ahead 600 miles from home. They wouldn’t be contributing to my travelling expenses but a swift call to the job centre confirmed they would.
The day came when I arrived at the companies HQ outside London along with 9 other candidates. I then found out that over 60 people are being assessed for the two jobs available!!
We were all ushered into a training room complete with security tags & name badges & got right to work. Assessment number one would last two minutes & you had to complete it on your own.
You had to pretend you on a sinking ship in the Southern Pacific Ocean & that you have a life boat big enough for four people, however there are five of you.
They list 15 items you can take with you & you need to list them in priority. Some are pretty obvious such as food, water, shark repellent & some are pretty useless such as a mosquito net (there are no mosquitoes in the South Pacific Ocean), transistor radio, shaving mirror etc.
However after the tests were completed & they marked them, they come to the conclusion that if we all had to survive a sinking ship on the basis of our lists…………….we would have all drowned!!
Once finished you felt that you had just gone two rounds with Mike Tyson, after this, the Apprentice with Alan Sugar felt like a picnic!! We were informed that the lucky ones would get an interview in two weeks along with a psychometric test. Whoopee, the joy in everyone’s face with the thought of a gruelling psychometric test was a sight to behold.
Some other likely assessment tests can include the ‘in tray exercise’ where you are given a set time to sort out a selection of emails & prioritise them into groups such as immediate action, deferring action, delegation, etc.
This assessment would determine your analytical abilities, sensitivity, lucidity, common sense & your ability to work under pressure.
There is a website set up for candidates to upload their assessments to allow others to see & compare & to also prepare them for what they might experience.
These are used when a prospective employer is looking to see if you will ‘fit in’ with a particular organisation. The questions asked are used to identify you reactions to situations where there are no right or wrong answers. In this situation you are tempted to fake your answers but you are always advised to be honest, remember you don’t what they are looking for.
These are designed to assess a wide range of abilities & usually include numeracy, literacy & diagrammatical reasoning or critical thinking. They can show up if you are either good or excellent, or for that matter bad or truly awful!!
You normally get a set number of questions & a ridiculous short time to complete them, in these cases you are advised to complete as many as possible rather than skim through the lot & make more mistakes. Tests like these don’t have negative marking such as points deducted for wrong answers.
What are they? These tests identify particular skills, typically words & figures but also diagrammatic reasoning that measures spatial awareness, logic & basic aptitude. It’s the sheer unfamiliarity that leads many candidates to under perform so it’s really advised to carry out on-line dummy runs before hand. Experts advise doing regular puzzles such as Sudoku help in these situations! Oh yeah?
Here is some small samples of a psychometric test taken form a book called Ultimate psychometric tests by Mike Bryon, it looks quite easy but just imagine you have about 50 of these & a limited time to complete them.
2: Swop two words to make this sentence read sensibly.
Book publishing is big business, the industry is worth £4 billion and more than 12000 books are published in the UK a year and each third of which are exported.
4: What word is the past particle?
The broken marriage was a great disappointment to all.
6: Again without a calculator, pen & paper
Find 12.5% of 3 hours & 40 minutes
8: Which barometric reading would you expect on a rainy day?
970mbar, 1010mbar or Cannot tell
10: How many colours in a rainbow
5, 6, 7 or 8
This is popular in Europe but thankfully not properly recognised in the UK. Graphology is the study & analysis of hand writing in relation to human psychology. It has been controversial for more than a century & although supporters point to evidence of thousands of positive testimonials as a reason to use it for personality evaluation, most studies have failed to show the validity claimed by its supporters.
Make no mistake here, when you apply for a job you make think you are the right person for the job as you have all the right skills. It can come as a shock when you find out how many other people are also applying for the same job with ether the same skills or higher.
One job I applied for required two phone interviews & one normal interview, there comes a time when you are starting to run out of things to speak about!
The problem with interviews is that you don’t know what to expect. For my last job I endured a two hour interview with two people, one HR manager & my future department manager.
They would ‘fire off’ questions to you very quickly & see how you react quite often not giving you the chance to think about the answer in between. I was asked to give a detailed explanation on how a vehicle’s automatic transmission works without diagrams or notes, whilst I am struggling to put a coherent description in place I am being interrupted by the HR manager asking where I last went on my holidays & then questioning why I went there. After the two hour interview I was physically & mentally drained & convinced I blew my chances of a job, however I got it in the end.
I turned up at a group interview with another candidate who was dressed very smartly in a two piece dark suit, however his sandy coloured desert boots, his sunglasses with ‘bling’ written all over them & a bright tie that needed a dimmer switch may have proved too much for some!
Do try & remain calm, I often get very nervous before hand but when you actually arrive at a reception area for the interview I usually find the nerves steady up.
Do shake hands but only if they offer first & look the person in the eye, eye contact is so important as is a firm handshake but don’t crush their hands.
Do take spare copies of your CV with you just in case they haven’t got any. Also ensure you know your CV back to front & all the dates & information is correct.
Don’t arrive late, be early & twiddle your thumbs rather arrive late; it doesn’t set a good example.
Don’t ‘um’ & ‘er’, Nothing is more off putting to an interviewer than answering a question with an ‘um’ or an ‘er’ in each sentence no matter how nervous you are. Practise answering questions in front of a mirror beforehand & cut out all the ‘ums’ & ‘ers’.
Don’t ask about salary until the very end of the interview if at all, some companies will inform you however many won’t until they assess your credentials.
QUESTIONS QUESTIONS QUESTIONS
Tell me/us about a time you delegated a project effectively.
Tell me/us about a time when you made a bad decision.
What are people’s greatest misperceptions about you?
If you had to do it all again what would be your career choice & why?
Are you the best person for the job?
Professionally what is your weakest point?
What can you do for us that someone else can’t?
Your CV suggests you are over qualified for this position, what is your opinion?
Why aren’t you earning more at your age?
It’s very rarely that you get the first job you try for; you need to be prepared for rejection. I tired for a job with a closing date of a Friday in May, by then over 15 people had applied for the job. On the Monday morning I received an email stating that the vacancy had been filled & thank you for my enquiry! I later found out it was filled internally, but for two weeks you are hanging on with the hope of a possible job.
It’s bad enough losing out to a job after an interview but when you don’t even get the chance of the interview it becomes demoralising.
A LONG PROCESS
A different strategy was required, I starting applying for jobs with much smaller salaries & positions I wasn’t 100% comfortable with. Some weeks I would apply for five to six separate jobs & still only get the minimum response from agencies.
We would like to think that when we attend an interview the company handling the interview would be as professional as possible….not so!
One job interview I attended the interviewer was 15 minutes late & he was more nervous than me! On another interview the interviewer was very laid back, so laid back that he was almost unconscious.
He didn’t know the salary, he issued me with the wrong working hours, he forgot to ask me a number of important questions & he filled in the application incorrectly. It doesn’t inspire confidence.
One employer clearly said to me that he would personally contact me within seven days to let me know either way if I had the job or not. He went on to inform me that his company is very professional & we wouldn’t mess people about. Four months on I’m still waiting for that phone call!!
AAD Automotive Aftermarket Division
ABAP Advance Business Application Programming
APQP Advanced Product Quality Planning
ARM Adjustable Rate Mortgage
ATA Advanced Technology Attachment
ATL Above The Line
B2B Business to Business
B2C Business to Customer
BIT Business Improvements Techniques
BMS Battery Management Systems
BMS Building Management Systems
BMS Broadcast Message Server
BTL Below The Line
CAD Computer Aided Design
CAE Certified Automotive Engineer
CAE Computer Aided Engineering
CAE Common Appliances Environment
CATIA Computer Aided Three-Dimensional Interactive Application
CBT Compulsory Basic Training
CFD Contract For Difference
CFO Chief Financial Officer
CIM Continuous Improvement Manager
CMA Certified Management Accountant
CMA Corporate Market Analysis
CMOS Complimentary Metal Oxide Semi-Conductor
CNC Computer Numerically Controlled
CPC Cost per Click
CPD Continuing Professional Development
CRM Customer Relationship Management
CSCS Construction Skills Certification Scheme
DAT Direct Access Training
DBA Database Administrator
DOE Depending on Experience
ECS Electronic Clearing Service
ECS Electronic Controlled Suspension
EDI Electronic Data Interchange
EDI Education Development Initiative
EEO/AA Equal Employment Opportunity / Affirmative Action
EHS Environmental Health & Safety
EIB European Investment Bank
EMC Electro Magnetic Compatibility
EMC Executive Management Committee
ERP Enterprise Resource Planning
ETS Educational Testing Services
ETS Engineering Technical Services
ETS Emissions Trading Scheme
F&DT Fatigue & Damage Tolerance
FAE Fuel Air Explosives
FD Finance Director
FM Facility Management
FMCG Fast Moving Consumer Goods
FMEA Failure Modes & Effects Analysis
FTSE Financial Times Stock Exchange
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GHG Greenhouse Gases
GMP Good Manufacturing Practices
GP Gross Profit
HEVS Hybrid Electric Vehicle Systems
HVAC Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning
IC Intelligence Community
IFA Institute of Financial Accounts
IFM International Facility Management
IMT Information Management Tool
IMT Industrial Market Trends
ITIL Information Technology Infrastructure Library
KPI Key Performance Indicators
LEP Local Employment Partnership
M&E Monitoring & Evaluation
MET Mean Effective Temperature
MI Management Information
MIS Management Information Systems
MMS Multimedia Messaging Service
NPD New Product Development
NPI National Provider Identifier
NPI Numbering Plan Indicator
NPI New Product Introduction
NPI Negative Polarity Item
NVQ National Vocational Qualification
OEE Overall Equipment Efficiency
OEM Original Equipment Manufacturer
OSS Operations Support System
OSS Open Source Software
OTE On Target Earnings
P&L Profit & Loss
P2P Peer to Peer (Software)
PBE Personal Banking Executive
PBE Peak Business Equipment
PBE Programming by Example
PBE Paint Body Equipment
PBE Production Budgetary Estimate
PBE Place Based Education
PCM Pre Calendar Month
PDE Process Development Engineer
PHP Hypertext Pre-Processor
PL Procedural Language
PLC Public Limited Company
PLC Programmable Logic Controller
PM Plant Maintenance
PP Production Planning
PPAP Production Part Approval Process
PPC Pay Per Click
PSCM Purchasing & Supply Chain Management
PTA Power Tools Accessories
PTFE Polymer Textile Fibre Engineering
QAI Quality Assurance International
QHI Quality Health Indicators
QHSE Quality Health Safety Environment
QHSEE Quality Healthy Safety Environmental Engineer
RF Radio Frequency
RNC Radio Network Interchange
ROI Return on Investment
RSS Really Simple Syndication
S&D Systems & Development
SAP Systems Applications Products
SAS Statistical Analysis System
SCADA Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition
SCM Supply Chain Management
SD Sales & Distribution
SD/MM Successful Direct Marketing Methods
SD/MM Service Delivery Maturity Model
SEO Search Engine Optimisation
SFM Search Feed Management
SHEQ Safety Health Environment & Quality
SHESQ Safety Health Environment Security & Quality
SLA Service Level Agreement
SME Small Medium Enterprise
SMM Social Media Marketing
SMS Short Message Service
SQL Structured Query Language
SRM Supplier Relationship Management
TAC Technical Allocations Centre
TDD Telecommunications Device for the Deaf
TDD Test Drive Development
VBA Visual Basic for Applications
VHC Very Highly Commended
VHC Vehicle Health Checks
VSEO / VSO Video Search (Engine) Optimisation
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