A CV has just come through our website and the candidate has followed up with an email.

Now you are perfectly entitled to take all references of age off your CV. When some employers favour older managers, some favour younger and a sizeable minority are quite relaxed about how old you are, so long as you can do the job, I see no reason why you need to include it in any case. Although that discussion was not what prompted this blog.

Because this CV had jobs running from the year 2000, no dates for education or qualifications, so they could probably have been born anytime from 1940 to 1980. And it really doesn’t matter to me when that was.

Except I looked at their email address, listed in their CV as joebloggs1959@gmail.com (names have been changed to protect the innocent). I am no Sherlock Holmes, but I am now pretty certain that Joe was born before 1960 and after 1958.

Now of course he could have been born at 7:59 in the evening, but I suspect that is not why he chose 1959.

It’s amazing how easy it is to overlook the blindingly obvious, isn’t it?

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Don’t spend your time worrying about “interview technique” or second guessing your interviewer, telling them what they want to hear. And don’t try and bluff and dodge difficult questions.

Genuine employers with real career opportunities will respect far more those that handle well the unpleasant truth (maybe you were sacked by making a really silly mistake that you would never repeat, or maybe you failed all your A ‘Levels because you hated your school and were in with the wrong group of friends) than somebody who lies or deliberately misleads to hide the truth.

Most interviewers realise that people have problems with their careers and their lives. But what we look for in capable Managers are people who recognise problems, who handle them and deal with them logically and effectively. What we are not looking for are people who refuse to acknowledge that problems exist and try and sweep them under the carpet.

And in any case, if you learn “Interview Technique” and do it very well then they will end up employing the wrong person, do it badly and they will simply be put off you from the start.

Be yourself.

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Do you know the most important factor in determining happiness at work? Not money, not career prospects, not job satisfaction. It is culture.

Or rather cultural fit. Do I want the same things as my employer does? Do we see the world the same way? Do we share a common ethos? Do I buy into their goals and aspirations? Do I want to work for them?

I recent survey showed that the majority Millennials are prepared to take a pay cut to work for a company whose goals they believe in. A significant minority will not work for a company that is at odds with their world view.

The single most quoted reason for a new recruit not lasting long? The promises made at interview never materialised. And most serious promises are the intangibles – “we are a people company”, “there are plenty of chances of promotion”, “you will be given all the support necessary to do the job”, “you need a life outside of work”.

It has been dubbed the Emotional Contract.

Terms that are too vague to be legally binding, but indicate the way that people are expected to work, how they develop, how they interact. If you break it they may not have recourse in law (yet), but they will vote with their feet.

Especially the ones you really want to keep, the ones with the “get up and go”. Lie to them and they will be the first to get up and go before you even realise what you’ve done.

I second that.

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When the industry or, more particularly, a manufacturer goes through a bad patch, the first instinct is that the people at the coal face are letting them down, rather than looking at the underlying causes.  

The knee jerk reaction can be to change all the managers first and then see if it makes a difference.  Just like a failing football club will ring the changes. And I guess we all know what will happen if you just swap everyone round – the more it changes, the more it stays the same.

Anyway, dealer standards mean many franchises insist on approving each Dealer Principal and every one, sometimes every senior manager, has to be assessed in depth. The cynic will say this is a good money spinner for the manufacturers – assessments can cost hundreds or thousands of pounds.

But it means that decision making has shifted, and with managers having to please two masters, in some areas staff turnover is increasing rapidly.  Good for us as recruiters perhaps, but is it in the long interest of the business?

If you scratch an itch it will get better for a while, but it always seems to come back itching more.

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THIS WEEK

I have searched high and low for another story bigger for our industry than the dramatic arrest in Japan this week of Carlos Ghosn, who until last week was one of the most important people in the global automotive industry. For those who have never heard his name, he was the man who was credited with sorting out a heavily indebted Nissan and returning it to be one of the most profitable automotive manufacturers for its size. He was then responsible for tying it very closely to Renault for he is also currently Chairman and CEO. More recently Mitsubishi has joined the fold. His arrest, for alleged misconduct in Japan, has shaken the automotive world and the three manufacturers under his care.
Say what you like about the Internet, but it does this type of rumour-mongering  very well. Conspiracy theories abound, was Nissan worried about ceding too much to Renault? Were the Japanese authorities worried about losing control of one of their most important manufacturers? Or has he simply been caught with his hand in the till? Nobody knows except those most closely involved, but they picture is certainly complicated, not least by the cross holdings of shares between the companies.
In the Times today they say that Renault cautioned against precipitous action, and that Nissan ignored them. It is also rumoured that as Nissan have effectively sacked their Chief Executive Renault has requested for a replacement on the board. And Nissan have turned round and said as he is still on the board there is no extra place available!
Whichever rumour you choose to believe, whichever side you take, it is a right mess for each of the manufacturers. If charges are proven in Japan, and let us not forget that Mr Ghosn is under arrest there, the newspaper reports suggest he could get up to 10 years in jail. Which certainly will not help him run Renault, where he is still very firmly employed. Renault themselves are going through a challenging time, not least with a contracting world market and a rapid move away from diesel technology in which they had become so proficient. With Nissan’s experience of electronic vehicles with the class leading Leaf, the sharing of technology and expertise would surely have benefited Renault. That looks less likely to happen now.
According to the Wall Street Journal he still has the back of the French Government in all of this. They own 15% of Renault and minister Bruno Le Maire has been quoted as saying that he has seen no evidence “justifying the accusations against Carlos Ghosn”. What a mess.
Have a great weekend, wherever you are.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

In these matters the only certainty is that nothing is certain.
Pliny the Elder (23 AD – 79 AD)
Seek simplicity, and distrust it.
Alfred North Whitehead (1861 – 1947)
An economist is a man who states the obvious in terms of the incomprehensible.
Alfred A. Knopf
One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.
Rita Mae Brown

I was quoted quite a few years ago as saying that the retail motor industry was founded on a lie.  And they were right, the quote was down to me. When was I quoted?

Well, you would probably have missed it, because even my Mum did – it was about 15 years ago on a live interview for the long, long lamented but never ever watched Automotive channel for Sky. And I explained that what I meant – the lie was the way that cars were sold to consumers.  

Most buyers assume that dealers make money is on the original sale and aftersales prices are so high because they reflect the cost of the technology and training required to service today’s hi-tech products.

But anybody who works within the industry knows this is not exactly the case – wafer thin margins of 2-4% on sales are matched by mind-boggling 65-80% margins on aftersales, or at least on the labour part.

But there are serious long-term problems with this approach.  Any part of your business model that generates unusual profits is open to attack from outside.  The independent sector will get better if the rewards are so high for servicing vehicles. And they will do with the blessing of the authorities if our charges are seen as excessive.

In addition, the rise of Electric Vehicles means that we are likely to perpetuate the low margin culture on sales, but then have to forego the profits on aftersales, broadly speaking because there won’t be any.

So that will be our conundrum over the next 5 years, how do we wean ourselves off a reliance on aftersales, especially if it going to disappear?

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The Internet has changed everything.

With one click of the mouse you can apply to hundreds of jobs, but so can everyone else.

So while it is easier to apply, it is much more difficult to stand out. And it is more difficult for companies to choose the right applicant, so the way they view and sift applications is also changing.

Because just as machines have helped with applications, AI is also doing a lot of the selection. Programs that look at relevance, experience, character, stability and many other factors.  Sifting began with simple pre-qualifying questions, but now recruiters scan application letters and CVs against specific criteria.

Scary. But if you understand what you need to do then you can at least maximise your chances.

Look at your CV, especially the “profile” section. Savvy applicants make sure this profile matches closely what is requested in the advertisement. And because the machine will try to judge what sort of character you are, make sure the profile is full of the “action words” they want, such as “developed”, “motivated”, “created”, “achieved”, “encouraged”, etc.

If they are going to automate their systems, you might as well learn how to game them because everyone else will.

www.hy not?

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I recently talked with my Bank Manager, naturally a very important person for us. After we had talked about us, we talked about the changes in his industry and in ours. And he explained the revolution in retail banking, and especially in banking for small businesses, over the past fifteen years or so.

At the start the banks’ main focus was on pure short-term profit. The advent of call centres and of Internet banking meant the personal touch was no longer necessary. So people were moved around very quickly, promotions were often rapid and talent was sought in every other sector of the economy to boost the banking talent pool.

And the customer became a number. I remember his frustration, as he couldn’t get close to his customers. Equally customer loyalty wasn’t valued so we got much better deals by moving, first away and then back.

He felt that banks had forgotten that banking wasn’t just about numbers, it was about people. About ten years ago, after the crash, Business Bank Managers took back control of local areas. And they were kept in those areas for a time, developing local relationships, understanding their customers properly.

But then internet banking technology got better, and more relied upon.  And then it was the customer who took the lead, deciding that it was quicker to go on line than to phone. It was faster to rely on a machine driven decision than to wait for a human.

So now there are fewer business banking teams, covering more people.  And banking has moved out of branches, less cash, fewer cheques, and is carried out more remotely. And branches are closing.

Banking is a huge business and its model has changed several times since the start of this century. I am not sure automotive retailing has changed much in that time, but it’s about to.

You can bank on it.

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Understand that in interview situations, as in any other form of communication, when you are asked a question what is genuinely required is an honest response.

Don’t spend your time worrying about “interview technique” or second guessing your interviewer, telling them what they want to hear. Do that very well and they will end up employing the wrong person, do it badly and they will simply be put off you from the start.

Genuine employers with real career opportunities will respect far more those that handle well the unpleasant truth (maybe you were sacked by making a really silly mistake that you would never repeat, or maybe you failed all your A ‘Levels because you hated your school and were in with the wrong group of friends) than somebody who lies or deliberately misleads to hide the truth.

Most interviewers realise that people have problems with their careers and their lives. But what we look for in capable Managers are people who recognise problems, who handle them and deal with them logically and effectively. What we are not looking for are people who refuse to acknowledge that problems exist and try and sweep them under the carpet.

So next time you are in an interview situation, beware of the bull. Talk straight, admit your mistakes and show how you dealt with them positively and you will impress.

You will certainly impress far more than those who tell you they have so much talent that it is difficult to understand why they were not Prime Minister by the age of 35.

But then I have never met Pitt the Younger.

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THIS WEEK

Whenever I start to write this newsletter, I always dial into the Financial Times for inspiration. They generally carry the most up-to-date news and articles about the automotive industry. None more so than this week.
To begin with, everybody is talking about the fall in sales in China. October is down 12% year on year. And while we have suffered similar drops in past years in the UK, one month of China’s sales equals approximately one year of UK sales. So it’s effect on the global market is massive. Last year they sold 28.8 million units. A pathetic sales penetration in the face of 1.5 billion inhabitants I will admit, but still very significant, and one that worries many European manufacturers, especially the Germans, who have up until now done extremely well over there.
Their second headline “Brexit isn’t the UK car industry’s biggest problem” is very appropriate. And in fact it ties in well with the launch of a new service called Turo which was announced in AM-online today. Because the gist of the FT article is that young urban dwellers are just not into car ownership any more, and consequently car sales are going to fall off a cliff over the next few years. Well Turo claims to have launched the “Airbnb of cars”. They claim that the average car spends just 9 hours a week being driven, sitting idle for the remaining 159. And if we could only rent the thing out for a fair proportion of those we could earn, on average, £6000 a year. And I am guessing, we could take another seven or eight cars off the road. They claim to have sorted out insurance issues and the technology platform, which is good news for car owners, consumers and the green lobby, but not great for car manufacturers. I suspect that many of us looked sceptically at Uber, Airbnb and even Amazon when they launched. Who knows how Turo will do, because we take the others very seriously now.
Their final headline highlights the new chairman of Tesla. The person who will finally rein  in their headstrong chief executive, Elon Musk. It has to be said that many are sceptical that Robyn Denholm will have the necessary toughness and authority to control her charge. Others, however, say that she has managed it successfully elsewhere, especially in the telecoms industry from where she originates. You have to say that the company needs it, and in fact the appointment of the chairman was at the insistence of the US authorities after recent controversies over their share price and production figures. But whatever the outcome, Tesla is here to stay, like many of the other new big players on the world stage.
Have a great weekend, at least you won’t be woken by fireworks this week.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.
Doug Larson
Anybody can win unless there happens to be a second entry.
George Ade (1866 – 1944)
The older I grow, the less important the comma becomes. Let the reader catch his own breath.
Elizabeth Clarkson Zwart
You know that children are growing up when they start asking questions that have answers.
John J. Plomp
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