One of the most annoying habits recruitment consultants see is after organising a meeting or two between a candidate and a client and then just as we get to the point of negotiation, one or other party goes quiet on this.

Not only does it infuriate us, it makes us look stupid to the other party, who probably think we are not following up and trying to find out what is happening. Let me let you into a little secret. While we earn our money from successfully placing people with our clients, the outcome of a single introduction is not crucial to us. We make our money and our profit from continually trying to put the right people in front of the right clients.

As a result, we will not try to persuade people they are making the biggest mistake of their lives if they turn a job down. We will not try and steer you into a job that is not right for you, nor we will we try and persuade a client that the candidate is the best thing since sliced bread.

So if you phone us up and say no, we are not going to be offended. We might be disappointed, but we will quickly get over it. But what will get up our noses is if you just refuse to answer the phone. Because then you make us look bad and that’s what we cannot stand.

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If you are smart, articulate and well-organised, this has to be one of the easiest industries to find your way into. Bear in mind that this is a retail industry, with unsocial hours and weekends, but other than that it has much to offer.

If you have an interest in cars and are happy to talk to people about them then openings in sales and service reception are probably the best way, especially if you have passed the stage of wanting to learn the technical skills necessary for an apprenticeship.

Despite the prevalence nowadays of online recruitment portals, my suggestion to anybody is to wear out your shoe leather. Prepare a proper CV and then walk from dealer to dealer, seeing if you can talk to the sales the service or general manager about joining their business.

If you are smart, well presented and confident I reckon that if you walk into 10 dealerships somebody will be interested. Selling cars or handling service customers on service reception is a skilled and often stressful job, but if you are well organised, reliable and trustworthy both your customers and your employers will recognise it and you will probably be successful.

It is an easy industry to get into, because it always needs new talent. Good luck.

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There is no point in aiming for the very top if you consider family, sport, holidays, travel or recreation more important than your career. If you are not prepared to make considerable sacrifices and compromises with your home life, you will not get there.

Likewise, if money is your driving factor, many managers earn considerably less than their most successful profit generators. Indeed some of the best sales executives are almost by definition poor managers.

Your priorities in life are the most important. The happiest people on our register are those who balance the right level of commitment, the right level of earnings and of fulfilment. The most unhappy are those who are over promoted, or who consistently underachieve.

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You are so keen to get that job, so desperate not to upset the interviewer that your first instinct is to agree with everything they say. Which may not always be the best thing to do.

Do not be afraid to disagree if an interviewer says something which you believe is clearly wrong. This is not bad interview technique; it may be done to test you out.

There are two reasons for this – if you do disagree fundamentally, find out now rather than after you have started work. Secondly, saying something outrageous could be to test exactly how much you will stand up for yourself.

Reasoned argument and persuasion is what business is all about. Do not be afraid to pursue it in an interview situation.

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When I am looking at a CV, I want to make my own mind up. So I am not interested in your opinion of yourself. After all I would expect it to be high, surely you believe that you had the right skills to move on to the next role? And if you cannot say nice things about yourself, who can?

A CV that impresses me is normally from somebody who has made a difference to the companies they have worked for. Who can show me they have improved turnover by say 20%. Who have improved profitability by perhaps 50%, who have increased workshop efficiency by 10%.

So do not be tempted to give me a whole load of skills that I will ignore. Especially if you are a genuine performer. If you know you are, shout about it.

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I have reckoned for some time that you have about 8 seconds to make an impression with your CV. However recent research by some of the largest websites shows that time has now shrunk to 6 seconds. So when you sit down to write your CV, do not be tempted to think that the tiniest detail is important, that every single facet of your life needs to be included. It doesn’t.

What can you look at in six seconds? Well I will tell you what I look for.

Name

Location

Companies you have worked for

Your most recent job title

Any notable achievements.

If some or all of those interest me, then we continue reading. But if most of your experience is with the wrong companies or in the wrong industry, you live in the wrong location for the job I am filling, you have moved about much too much or you do not really demonstrate too many achievements then I move on.

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Here is a common problem. You go along and have an exploratory meeting with a new group. They have an exciting opportunity that they wish to discuss with you.

Except when you get back to base a call comes in from your Regional Director. “I hear you’ve been to see XYZ Motors. I need to see you, now” I have seen it happen plenty of times. At MTS we are paranoid about security, making sure that people who are seeing clients for consecutive time-slots do not know each other. Warning candidates if there might be a danger of recognition. But it still happens.

How do you handle it? Most candidates hold their hands up, say it was just exploratory and promise to withdraw from the process. Others view it as sealing their fate, so they make very sure they get the opportunity they have been along for, or continue trying somewhere else. But however you handle it, you need to be prepared.

One note, it is quite difficult for employers to sack you because of this. Obviously if you have only been with the company for less than two years they can ask you to leave for almost any reason, but if you have been with them for a long time, exploring another opportunity probably does not break your contract. Clearly you need legal advice if you fall into this situation, as there may be some very specific circumstances where you might be in trouble, but in general any attempt by the employer to suggest it will affect your career, your promotion or your relationship with them could lead to a claim of unfair dismissal, or even constructive dismissal. So they need to be very careful, even if they are perfectly at liberty to display their displeasure.

In today’s fast flowing employment market, looking for another job is not a crime. Exploring potential career opportunities is quite normal behaviour.  But it will still upset your boss.

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We all think that finding a new job is a logical, dispassionate affair. That the new employer will respect us if we take our time, if we don’t get too carried away, if we make them wait a bit before we finally decide to say yes.

I have often likened the process of finding a new job to dating. And what you say in the early days really sets the tone for the relationship going forward.

So think about this carefully. Whilst you can never lie, you might just one question whether you should be completely honest the whole time. Ask yourself whether your desire to keep the new employer at arms length is compatible with their desire to sort this job out as quickly as possible.

Do they prefer someone who is logical to somebody who is really keen to join? Giving good, positive buying signals is much more important than telling them you still have a choice, you won’t make your mind up yet, you have got other good opportunities to see.

Even if they know you are not quite decided, the sensible candidate will politely buy some time, ask their partner and get back to the employer the next day. Or perhaps ask for a written offer and have some sensible questions that need answering. All of this can move the relationship along while you are waiting for the outcome of another meeting.

And in all honesty if you do decide to join them, no one will be any the wiser nor think any the less of you.

Before anybody sits down and does some serious career planning, you need to ask what are your priorities in life. Because until you clearly define those, you cannot hope to define what you want from your career.

I interview plenty of aspiring managers who profess to want to get to the very top. Very laudable, exactly what every recruiter wants to hear. But when you ask them about their own personal priorities they perhaps don’t want to work at weekends, can’t stay too late and work too many unsocial hours. They need a work-life balance. Again, very understandable.

But at some stage in your career you are going to have to invest. To invest your time, effort and focus. If your priority is keeping really happy home life, with a family who want to see you on a regular basis, then I doubt, seriously doubt, that you will be able to do the late evenings, the entertaining and the weekends necessarily to crack through the necessary layers.

Before you decide on what you want from your career, you need to decide what you want from your life.

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Having any online interview is an unnatural situation for many of us, and needs a little practice. One of the most common mistakes, one that I am very used to seeing, is that you tend to look at the picture on screen. Unconsciously that makes you look shifty as you are not looking them straight in the eye.

So when you want to make a particular point strongly, especially at the beginning when you are keen to make a first impression, try looking at the WebCam instead. It has far greater impact. Imagine looking at a newscaster on the television who merely looks at their notes, or reads from a point well below the camera. It doesn’t look great.

The next time you have an online interview, when you want to look impressive look straight at the WebCam, your interviewer will feel that you are looking straight at them and it could make all the difference.

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