Thursday, 28 July 2011

Could you make it up? Paper shortage delays tax reminder letters

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has said that almost half a million self assessment taxpayers will be late in receiving their July tax reminders.
The tax reminders usually go out to notify people of the second on account sum that needs to be paid by 31 July.
However, a paper shortage means that some 500,000 taxpayers, mostly those with Unique Taxpayer Reference numbers ending with digits from 70 to 99, won't be getting their reminders on time. The majority have been sent as planned.
The shortage came about as a result of an unexpected rise in the number of July statements that have had to be issued.
Normally interest on the sum is due if the payment is made late. But HMRC has reassured that anyone who receives their statement in August will be given 30 days in which to make the appropriate payment after they get the reminder. Only then will interest become chargeable.
A HMRC spokesman said: "Due to exceptionally high demand this year we are experiencing delays in sending paper self assessment tax statements to customers.
"This in no way prevents the accurate payment of tax and no one will be out of pocket as a result. Account information can be viewed on line so it isn't necessary to wait for a paper statement.
"We very much regret any inconvenience and will send paper statements to everyone who should have one as soon as possible. People who pay late because of our error wont have to pay interest."

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

How to network without wearing out your welcome

Job seekers know they're supposed to be tapping their networks for leads, but there is a good and a not so good way to go about it.
By Anne Fisher, contributor
  Dear Annie: I'm hoping you can clear something up for me. I've been looking for a job in project management for the past several months, after taking "early retirement" as an alternative to getting laid off, although I can't afford to retire yet.
I keep hearing that I should be contacting everyone I've known in my career to ask if they know of any openings, since the best available jobs (especially management positions) aren't advertised anywhere. So I've been doing that, but it's getting to the point where people aren't returning my phone calls or answering my Tweets anymore, and I feel like I'm wearing out my welcome. Do you or your readers have any suggestions on where to go from here? — Outside Looking In
Dear Outside: No doubt about it, in this economy, plenty of well-connected people have come down with an ailment you might call networking fatigue.
"If you contact someone in your network and that person seems not to want to talk to you, then it's the wrong person," says Jonathan Kreindler. "He or she is probably hearing from too many job seekers, and they're all after the exact same information about current job openings."
Kreindler, who is a co-founder of FreshTransition, a company that offers online career-management tools, contends that the way to get past that bottleneck is to start thinking long-term, by positioning yourself to take advantage of opportunities that don't exist yet. This may sound impossible but, Kreindler notes, it's the way top salespeople beat out the competition and win new customers.
"Successful salespeople have a knack for spotting future opportunities," he says. "They develop leads by building relationships gradually over time." For job hunters, this approach makes sense for a couple of reasons.
First, "companies are like living organisms. Things change constantly. People retire or quit and new projects get launched, so new opportunities are always on the horizon," says Kreindler. "By putting yourself ahead of the curve, you find out about them in advance rather than after the fact."
And second, taking a long-term approach helps avoid the situation you describe, an increasingly common one these days, where "you run the risk of wearing out your network," Kreindler says, adding: "Once you've asked about current openings and there aren't any, the conversation is over. Not only that, but you've defined the equation so that, the next time you contact that person, they already know what it's about and, if they can't help you, there's no dialogue."
By contrast, cultivating your network the way top salespeople do is far more likely to lead to the kind of continuing connections that result in getting hired. Four tips from Kreindler on how to do it:
1. Start an exchange of information. "The key is to know your target industry so well that, when you communicate with people in it, you're participating in a discussion, not asking for a favor," Kreindler suggests.
"Offering information, or asking someone's views on an industry issue, rather than requesting help, sets up a completely different dynamic" -- one that may make people more willing to take your phone calls.
2. Manage your pipeline of prospects. Kreindler notes that top salespeople are meticulous about keeping track of every conversation with a potential customer, and job seekers should follow their lead.
"Keep detailed records of everyone you've spoken with, when, and what you talked about," he says. "Then, when you see something relevant in the trade press or an industry blog, send it along and continue the conversation."
3. Listen twice as much as you talk. The more carefully you listen, the better able you'll be to recognize opportunities on the horizon, "so you'll know how to position yourself to take advantage when a trend becomes a job opening," says Kreindler.
4. Be the "go-to" person on a particular subject. In many industries now, top salespeople act like consultants, bringing problem-solving expertise rather than just pushing a product or service, and Kreindler advises job seekers to do likewise.
One way is to set aside a bit of time each week to answer questions in the Q & A section of LinkedIn (LNKD), which "offers a tremendous opportunity to connect with people who are struggling with an issue you have worked on in the past," Kreindler says. "When you answer a question, include your contact information and a brief 'elevator pitch' about your background." You never know who might see it and decide they need you.
Kreindler is the first to admit that this all adds up to a lot of work. "It's not easy, and it takes patience," he says. But, he adds, "Salespeople often get the sale because they are trusted and have built their credibility over time, not because they hit prospects over the head with a sales pitch. To succeed now, job seekers need to adopt the same mindset."

Monday, 25 July 2011

Closing and closure- handling redundancies

Have seen someone whose employer closed the organisation two weeks ago, with everyone redundant. And yes, of course she has a job to go to. The really important message for anyone who is doing the same thing to their staff was this... personalise your thanks and farewell. The Board were so fixated on getting through the close down that at the end they congratulated the staff for a great success...... hang on.. this business has gone to the wall..... congratulations are slightly inappropriate (even if it was a huge relief for the Board). And then they thanked everyone ever connected with the organisation for all their work. So each and everyone of the current staff, who has had six months of  wind down, who worked so hard to try and make it work, feels completely left down. Even the leaving gifts were left in box for them to help themselves! Each member of staff needed a few, well chosen and special individualised words.. not a lot... perhaps a recollection of some particular contribution, a funny event, a look in the eye, a firm handshake, an assurance that with their talents there would be a new chapter. Something!
It is too easy when project managing a big closure to forget that at the end of it all, those customers and staff are individuals.. and yes people will pull together to make it happen but individually they need a little, yes a a big would be even better, but a little goes a long way, of recognition of their individuality. Some thanks. A fond farewell.

So what could i do to help? No amount of praise or stroking from me was going make it better, that needed to come from someone else . So I taught her the Bottle Bank technique. When you're really angry about something you can do nothing about it can be really useful. Collect a lot of glass bottles and find a large bottle bank. One of the ones with holes in the side. find out which day it gets emptied. Take your collection of bottles and throw them through the holes as hard as you can. Put as much of your anger into the bottle and the throw as you can. Enjoy the wonderful smashing noise as it hits the floor. And as you throw 'shout (or think if there are people around, don't want you carted off by men in white coats) that's for ..... and name the object of your anger.
I love the bottle bank technique and it leaves you exhausted and purified. And no one got hurt!

She's off to empty a bottle or two for tomorrow's visit to the dump.

For more articles, tips and resources visit

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Do you know what you are doing?

I had a newsletter from a friend who is an Exec Search consultant in the public sector - Evelyn Dougherty at Solace.. loved this comment!

Rather unusually I have been working on a Chief Executive appointment outside local government.  Several of the short listed candidates however were senior managers in local government.  It was very marked at final interview stage that local government has developed a language all of its own. At times the Chair and his Board making this particular appointment found the phrases used by the local government candidates simply impenetrable. There was a mistaken assumption on the part of the candidates that everyone would be familiar with phrases such as ‘transformational change agenda’, ‘sustainable communities’, ‘place shaping’ and ‘engagement’.  An interesting debate ensued in which the highly educated Board members mused on whether ‘officialese’ is alive and kicking in council offices up and down the country. If so then it is surely an impediment to good communication with residents and employees. It is clear that much work has been done in a number of councils campaigning for a return to a more sensible use of English in all communications. Most tellingly when pressed by Panel Members to explain in ‘lay terms’ what some of their expressions actually meant some of the candidates found this extremely difficult!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

New survey shows hygiene and appearance play into employers’ promotion decisions.



Based on research, appearance and grooming really matter

CareerBuilder recently surveyed nearly 2,878 employers to find out if personal appearance and hygiene affect promotion decisions, and if so, which personal attributes would make an employee less appealing for a promotion.  Bad breath, disheveled clothing, piercings and tattoos ranked highest among factors.
The top personal attributes employers say would make them less likely to extend a promotion include:
  • Piercings – 37 percent
  • Bad breath – 34 percent
  • Visible tattoo – 31 percent
  • Often has wrinkled clothes – 31 percent
  • Messy hair – 29 percent
  • Dresses too casually – 28 percent
  • Too much perfume or cologne – 26 percent
  • Too much makeup – 22 percent
  • Messy office or cubicle – 19 percent
  • Chewed fingernails – 10 percent
  • Too suntanned – 4 percent
What this survey tells me is – all other things (e.g. leadership skills, job performance) being equal – appearance could be the deciding factor in whether or not you promote someone over another.

This research was done in the US and probably in the private sector.... how different do you think it is in the UK? in the public sector.... or are all these things just examples of poor judgement?