A candidate applied to us last week, explaining that he had reluctantly decided that his daily commute of a 200 mile round trip was too far.

He loved the company and the journey had been fine in August when he tried the journey and started. A month when days were long and traffic light because of the summer holidays.

The reality is that after 3 to 4 months, especially in the dark, dark days of winter, what looks like a completely reasonable, manageable 1½ -2 hour journey has become a 2½-3 hour nightmare on a daily basis.

We understand that, before you have ever applied for the job. Because we have seen it so many times. Anything more than an hour is tricky, more than 90 minutes impossible – in the employer’s eyes, even if it is not in yours.

So please do not take offence if we ignore your pleas to do a job that far away, we’ll probably have loads more local applicants, even if they are not as well qualified.

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THIS WEEK

For many people today is probably a quiet day of reflection before the madness of Christmas Day and beyond. Though that may not be the case for one or two franchises, whose manufacturers have just released a whole load of new cars. And guess what? They’ll want them registering before the end of the year. You finally sort out your supply problems caused by WLTP and a whole host of other commercial problems arrive instead. I suspect that December 31 this year may be rather busier than the normal New Year’s Eve.
Not so busy for former Nissan boss Carlos Ghoshn however. Newspaper reports late last week suggested that the courts had refused to extend his bail and were set to release him. However, yesterday we heard that he had been rearrested under different charges and will almost certainly spend the next few weeks continuing his stay in jail. All of which leaves the thorny problem for rudderless Renault at this moment, as they are without their guiding light and presumably have limited access to him.
Another big personality was in the news last week. Trevor Finn, who has been at the helm of Pendragon for the past 30 years, announced a well earned retirement. Life has not been easy for any of the bigger groups in the past year – while it is reported that he owns 16.9 million shares, at only 22p each in this morning’s market they certainly won’t go as far as they did a few years ago, when the shares topped 150p. On the other hand, he has probably got enough to live quite comfortably on.
It only remains for me to wish you all a very happy festive season, to thank all our candidates and clients for their custom this year and to look forward to a more successful 2019. One that is not blighted by debates about Europe (probably a forlorn hope), about the U.K.’s future in the global economy and about the future of the automotive industry in this country. But for a few days we can forget all about that.
Happy Brexmas everyone.
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 problem with the designated driver program, it’s not a desirable job, but if you ever get sucked into doing it, have fun with it. At the end of the night, drop them off at the wrong house.
Jeff Foxworthy
The smaller the mind the greater the conceit.
Aesop (620 BC – 560 BC)
Do give books – religious or otherwise – for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.
Lenore HersheyA turkey never voted for an early Christmas.
Irish Proverb

I talked recently about an application.

About a candidate who, at first glance, seemed to have had lots of different jobs over the past 10 years.

But, because we know the sector, a closer look showed that these different companies were all part of the same group. We worked it out, but many others would not.

They compounded this by not explaining why, having moved to a new group only this summer, at the end of August, they were looking again. And it gave us no clue, except the name of the company.

There was some crucial information missing that could have cleared this up. Again, we worked it out, because we know that the business he is working at is over 100 miles away from home. But there is no mention of his employer’s location on his CV.

And this is not logical, every other job has a location, but I suspect this was hurriedly put together. So for every previous job where it could be argued that location was not relevant, we had it. But for this one we did not.

A simple sentence like “Reason for leaving: I have reluctantly decided that the daily commute of 100 miles each way is too far” would explain logically and simply.

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Whenever we receive a candidate application it prompts some important questions. Here are a few:

  • Where do they live?
  • How stable is their career?
  • What sort of companies have they worked for?
  • Why are they looking?
  • What do they want?

There are plenty more, but those almost certainly cannot be answered without a conversation. But most of the above should be answered in their application. Purely from the information they give.

Let me give you an example, an application I received today. At first glance I saw lots of different jobs over the past 10 years. Which was discouraging. A closer look, however, showed that despite working for different companies they were all part of the same group. Which was encouraging.

However, having moved to a new job with a new company only this summer, at the end of August, he is now looking for a new a new role. Why? He did offer this helpful note (and nothing more) “I can explain my job moves if you want to call me”.

Really? When recruiters make up their mind about you sometimes in less than 10 seconds, you look as if you have had loads of jobs and we need to call?

You might not get the chance. Make sure we know that you worked for one company under different names for a long time. And if, as in this case, the journey to work was too far, tell us.

We understand if you have made a mistake. But we can’t guess.

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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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