Why so quiet? What is the deal?

A wise man always tells me that in motorsport (and other sports as well for that matter) you swing between business and sport continuously. Hence you end up at some point not worrying about the business aspect; you turn your focus to the sporting side and make sure that you achieve your sporting goals. This is bad news for us as suppliers and anyone else on the periphery of motorsport as it becomes a cyclical business model. Motorsport teams will not have time to talk about strategic hiring issues when they are off racing and they are in the middle of the season; it is all about racing at that point. This is the reason why we have been a bit quite of late; we have also been off to the tracks to network and talk to people. We and the teams have time to talk racing when they are racing, which leads to other discussions later in the year.

However, after Formula One’s mid-season shut down they will start to build next year’s car and they will discover that they need new competence and temporary contract staff to make sure they can deliver on time. This is where they are starting to shift focus from sport back to business.

We are making a big push this season to ensure our contractors get work though the season. We will have many opportunities for anyone whose contract is up in a couple months time to get you right back on another one, so get your CV’s in to us so that we can start promoting you. We will as usual promote the permanent placements as and when they become available, so keep your eyes on this space. You can also send us a note below to make contact.

And In The Beginning They Were … Apprentices. Or: An Exploration into Apprenticeships in Formula One.

Kid on computer

Even though testing is going on in Bahrain, I figured that this might be a better time than during the build-up to a race weekend to publish some insider material from Formula One. According to Apprenticeships.org.uk (part of HM Government’s ‘Skills Funding Agency’) there are some 22.000 apprenticeships available at any time in England. You need to be 16 years or older and not currently be in an educational programme. An apprenticeship is a true door opener as you get to learn a job while making some money; a win-win situation for employers and candidates alike.

Apprenticeships in Formula One

As with anything in Formula One, it is tremendously competitive to get in to an apprenticeship with a team. Most of the apprentice opportunities are in the manufacturing side of the business. Unfortunately Teams will only be looking at candidates with a college degree, but that is not to say that all is lost if you do not qualify for an apprenticeship in Formula One, but I will go in to some early career strategies further down. Typically Teams recruit candidates for their apprenticeship programmes directly from colleges or from a ‘Registered Training Agency’, which, unfortunately, RIMS is not one as of yet. Normally you would spend up to 3 years on fixed contracts in an apprenticeship before entering a fully skilled role. You would be placed in a host department and then would be rotated to different functions. As you can see apprenticeships are great opportunities to be exposed to and gain experiences in a variety of jobs. Hence, it is a good idea to set your aims at Teams and organisations that have a variety of departments and functions that you can rotate through.

Apart from the ‘hard’ skills, i.e. academic qualifications, Teams are looking for the usual ‘passion’ for the sport and a high level of mechanical aptitude in successful candidates. They would like to see candidates that have shown interest early. Hence if you are 12 years old and reading this blog I would, apart from wondering what the heck you are doing on the web, suggest you get to it and try to find mentors in the engineering and manufacturing sectors to spend time around the process. Of course you will not be able to operate machinery, but you get the idea, demonstrate REAL passion and drive.

Career strategy advice

I’ve said it many times before and I will continue to harp on it; find your entry-point! If F1 is your bulls eye and you have not been successful getting in, go to the next layer: suppliers of F1. Especially as an apprentice candidate you have a real incentive to offer the employer, remember the win-win from above? Make a list of 50 companies that supply F1 Teams with services and start calling and sending in your CV, it’s called networking and if you’ve read my previous articles you understand how important that is. Then you spend three to four years working with F1 parts and prove yourself; suddenly you are very attractive to a Team. If you do not have a degree from a college, you may have to start a little ‘further out’ and work your way in to your entry point, it will take a few more years, but at least you are on the right track.

I suggest you take a look at http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/ as it has a wealth of information and positions available to research. Well, that is all for this time. I hope you got some useful insight and I wish you all the best in the pursuit of your dreams.

1 Candidate + 1 Recruiter = 1 Common Goal

High five

We thought it prudent to give any job seeker out there some advise in working with recruiters. It certainly is neither brain surgery nor rocket science, but a few pointers might very well be in order.

The base concept is simple; recruiters are in business to make money (surprised?), placing candidates generates revenue and doing so effectively creates efficiencies which creates more opportunities for the recruiter, which in turn creates opportunities for candidates. Candidates are in the business of landing their dream job and recruiters can help them open doors and find opportunities the candidate would not otherwise have known about. Hence, as the title of this article suggests, candidates and recruiters have a common goal: Find a job for candidates and get them hired. Now of course for recruiters that have their eyes on the long term viability of the business will also be focused on getting the right candidate for the right job. However simplified this analysis might be, it holds true in most cases. Below you have our list of top suggestions on how to best work with your recruiter:

  1. Trust that your recruiter is looking after your best interest. Don’t get upset if you aren’t contacted about a job that you would not have a chance of landing anyway. Your recruiter does not want to waste anyone’s time and will only let you know about opportunities where you have a real chance.
  2. Honesty goes a long way! If you are honest you will give your recruiter the tools to work his/her magic to get you in the door. If you withhold information that causes problems, you can see where your chances are going to end up.
  3. Do your homework. It is a two way street; your recruiter will give you an insight and knowledge that you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else, so return the favour by reading up on the businesses that you are trying to get a job with and also absorb any information your recruiter provides you with.
  4. Have your wits about you. If a recruiter contacts you about a job that you have already applied for, it might be a good idea to tell him/her. Recruiters will only be able to collect a fee from the employer if the recruiter is the one making the introduction. It is surprising how often this problem comes up.
  5. It’s a partnership. You are both working towards a common goal, so to achieve the best results, i.e. you getting that dream job, view your recruiter as a partner in the process. Ask them for advice and tell them if you are thinking of applying to a job, he/she might have contacts there that can help.
  6. Be responsive. If you are serious about pursuing an opportunity, show it by responding promptly or communicating when you will be able to respond. The speed of which opportunities come and go in this business is staggering, so right place at the right time is very applicable indeed.
  7. Make ’em look good! Or perhaps I should say ‘don’t make ’em look bad’. If you do not follow the advice above you will make your recruiter look bad and thus will be less likely to be able to help you in the future.

So, in the illustrious words of Jerry McGuire; ‘Help me help you!’ http://youtu.be/AGt5f70K02Q (however our disposition is slightly less desperate than Jerry’s in this scene)

Write the Right CV! Some friendly tips.

We at RIMS pride ourselves of being a helpful organisation and sometimes this is misconstrued as being critical and insensitive. However, it is all well meant and will help you get better traction in your job search. We receive many CVs every day, some good and some not so good. Many of the CVs show case that candidates typically think of ‘what have I done?’ as opposed to ‘ what have I contributed?’ Also keep in mind that you have to adapt your CV to the country ‘standard’ for where the job/organisation is based. This article will primarily focus on UK based jobs and organisations.

Employers are naturally interested in that candidates have the skill set to perform the job. However, the key for them is to see that you can do it well. The only way for employers to see this is for you to give examples of how you have been useful to others. For example, instead of stating ‘I used C# code to write a new simulation script’ you should write (if it is true!) ‘The script I wrote in C# for the simulator provided more accurate data that allowed us to shave off 0.02 seconds per lap at Suzuka’. Companies and Teams are results driven and you are a part in achieving those results, thus you need to focus on what you can contribute. As JFK once said ‘…ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’ In our context you need to ask yourself how you can have an impact on an organisation’s ultimate goal, whatever that might be.

This brings us to a second important aspect; know your audience! If you are serious about applying for a job with an organisation, show that you are! Tailor your CV to sell yourself. Here are a few tips:

  • Read the job advert carefully and decipher what key skills they look for in a candidate, this might not always be clear; e.g. the emphasis might be on academia or experiences.
  • Trawl on the organisation’s website to understand what they do, how they operate and what they are passionate about; does it match your credentials and experience?
  • Find out what personality characteristics the hiring manager goes for and highlight those in your CV.
  • Talk to your recruiter about what key aspects should be highlighted. We are actually, believe it or no, a helpful resource that wants you to succeed.

It is hard work selling yourself and tailoring your CV for each job you are applying for, but if you want to improve your ‘hit’ ratio and get more invitations to interview you have to show that you care. If you don’t, the employer is going to see that and not short list you. The points raised above apply to all aspects of your CV, not only your professional work experience.

We also get many CVs compiled and written by professional CV writing services, and I use that term lightly. Unless the service knows the employer you are going for and are able to tailor each CV to that end, I wouldn’t rely wholly on their skills for every job you are applying for. They will give you a nice layout and give you some good wording to use, but you need to use that as a template, not your standard.

Below are some general key suggestions for structuring a good CV:

  • Use bullet points when you elaborate and highlight key words (don’t go too crazy)!
  • Start your CV with 3 -5 bullet points with your key strengths that will benefit the employer.
  • Put sections in the order of importance to the job you are applying for; e.g. if your academic credentials are more important than work experience, put them first.
  • In each section, list your achievements/experiences in chronological order starting with the most recent.
  • Always give the name of the organisation you attended/worked with, state the from and to dates, if it is not obvious, give the location.
  • In the section about your education always also provide the degrees and grades achieved. Don’t forget your A-levels equivalent, if applicable!
  • If you have a number of publications under your belt, just state how many and give the titles of the ones most appropriate to the job you are applying for.
  • For some jobs you will have a portfolio of projects that you have done, don’t attach them to the CV. Provide the titles of the key ones and perhaps give a link to your drop box where they can be viewed.

Finally, make your CV stand out! Always have a basic Word format of your CV available, but there are some great publishing tools out there that are easy to use to add a professional flair to your CV and make it memorable. If you don’t want to buy one I can recommend Scribus as a good open source alternative to a commercial one (www.scribus.net). I once received a CV from a composite laminator who had a carbon fibre pattern running down the left third side of the entire CV. It might seem silly, but guess which CV I will go to first when I have an opening for a composite laminator? We at RIMS have a layout for our CVs that stands out and as employers flick through a stack of CVs they cannot miss ours. In many countries it is customary to attach a head shot on the CV, but it is not common in the UK. However, I would suggest that you attach one to the CV you bring to the interview so the hiring manager can visualise the conversation that you had when they are reviewing their candidates.

I am sure that not everybody is going to agree with all points given in this article, but I can only convey what we have seen being successful, so take from this what you think would work for you. Happy job hunting!

Ah, These Young Ones With So Much Hope And Enthusiasm!

Last time we talked about the functions that do not ‘touch’ the car, i.e. more business administrative roles within the Team. This article will attempt to tackle and, in some respects, generalise another collective group spread across many department; Newbies. This would refer to anyone in a graduate, apprenticeship or internship programme. These programmes are vastly different but have one primary commonality; they are entry points to working in a team. These are extremely competitive programmes and being selected is an achievement in of it self lest we forget about actually completing any of the programmes. Key to succeeding will of course be to performing well in your job, but there is more to it than that. Teams will be looking for candidates that apply themselves and are loyal. Hence, as the old clich√© goes, be the first to arrive and last to leave every day. This is also an opportunity to network, learn and ask questions as you will be exposed to more than one discipline in a team. Can I just mention networking again? You will find that it is as much about what you know as who you know in this business.¬† There are too many examples where candidates superbly competent do not get called up because they are not ‘known’ in the business, start building those relationships early!

Internships are programmes that run for a specific period of time during an interns studies at university. Teams will announce them during a limited time during the year. This will be the lucky few’s opportunity to connect theory to practice, but also to get a feel for the environment. Most teams have internship programmes; they allow teams to take a first look at the potential starts of tomorrow that might come back as graduates. They also tie up relationships between teams and academic institutions to allow teams to gain access to recruit the best graduates. Every intern’s objective should be that when they put in the application for a graduate position the hiring manager says to him/herself “I remember this guy/girl, that was the intern who….[insert positive aspect of your internship]”. If that happens you probably proved yourself and stood out from the crowd and made a point to make yourself known to the managers (without being blunt about it!). By the way, don’t expect to get paid for your internship, you are there to learn, especially if it is part of your educational programme.

Apprenticeships are similar to internships as they run for a specific period of time, but with the objective to lead to permanent employment. These programmes tend to run in the more mechanical/manufacturing aspects of the teams. An apprentice will also have completed his/her studies and will be expected to start contributing to the success of the team relatively soon after joining the team. You will not be earning much money as an apprentice, but you will have the opportunity to learn the ropes and be exposed to different functions within the team. If you are successful in your apprenticeship you will be offered a full-time, permanent position.

Graduate positions come up continuously throughout the year and you can think of them as entry-level positions with caveats. They are proper jobs where you perform a function, but have the opportunity of learning the practical side of what you’ve studied academically. These positions are typically tied to the more technical functions in the team. The demands for a strong academic degree are high. A graduate employee will be contracted on a 3 month period to begin with, then another 6 months and finally a 12 month contract is offered to the successful graduate. If you get this far you will be promoted to a junior position, i.e. you will be a graduate trainee for 21 to 24 months depending on the circumstances before being ‘hired’. It is tough and harrowing as you do not have much time to prove yourself and you have to very quickly figure out what it is that you have to do to prove yourself.

A couple of final notes and advice to anyone in either of the three programmes above; while at work, turn off your phone, your private e-mail, your social networking sites and anything else that does not involve you furthering your career with the team you are at!

The Running of the Business That Is Formula One

We thought we’d start out looking at the functions within the teams that don’t ‘touch the car(s)’. This refers to all the support functions that makes the business end of Formula One or any other motorsport team go round. These include:

  • Marketing
  • Human Resources
  • Finance and accounting
  • Facilities (reception, security, maintenance, etc.)
  • Executive Management
  • Administration

Now you are thinking that since these positions don’t have anything to do with developing the car, motorsport experience is not essential. You would be correct to a certain extent, but it is an unfair world that we live in and as with any job, employers give preferential treatment to candidates with industry experience. It is a also worth mentioning that any position in any of the functions rarely make it on to the open market as people tend to move from team to team, i.e. positions are marketed by word-of-mouth.

So now that we have painted a gloomy picture, is it a lost cause for anyone without motorsport/F1 experience to get through the door? Of course not! I think it is true with any industry that you have to look at the core skill set or job function and ask yourself what skills you have that would transfer well into a new industry. For example in motorsport marketing you would have to deal a lot with events with VIP guests, merchandise, social media, sponsorship management and sales etc. With this as a base you would be well served to look at entry points that have comparable environments, e.g. functions in other sports, smaller motorsport teams, music, film, entertainment, etc. Teams will also look for candidates who have cut their teeth in environments that will allow them to hack it in motorsport. With this I mean that it takes a certain personality to work in motorsport, you have to have thick skin and be passionate and devoted to the ’cause’, i.e. winning every day of your career. Also keep in mind that many people in motorsport have very strong personalities so anyone who have dealt with most celebrities will know what to expect.

I am not going to spend much time talking about the executive management level jobs (CXO level) as this comes through, in most cases, having been groomed during your whole career by investors and owners of teams or have a strong and distinguished career in motorsport. Exploring how to go about that successfully would be a whole book in itself.

Needless to say, it would behoove anyone trying to get in to any of these functions to attach themselves to people in the industry to find out about positions that come available and then go for it full force. One way (here comes the plug) is of course to work with a recruiter/headhunter such as ourselves at ‘Resources In Motorsport’ as we talk to people in the industry every day and know about movements sometimes before anyone else.

I hope you have enjoyed this short analysis and that I have given you some food for thought. Happy career management and have a great week ahead until next time.