Monday, July 30, 2007

The Anti 9-to-5 Guide

Michelle Goodman was once a 9-to-5er working her way up the traditional career ladder until she fled the cube over a decade ago. Now a freelance writer, Michelle works various temp jobs when her savings account needs a boost. The Anti 9-to-5 Guide is Michelle's first book offering advice to other women who long to flee the cube. The Anti 9-to-5 blog features information about freelancing as a career, women in the workplace, work life balance, plus Michelle does periodic profiles of women who have successfully left cubicle culture behind.

Michelle recently profiled me and Flexible Workforce in an Anti 9-to-5 profile. Be sure to visit her blog to read the interview.

Friday, July 27, 2007

What the Labor Shortage Could Mean for Flexible Benefits

By the year 2012 there will be 3.3 million fewer workers than jobs according to the Society of Human Resources Management. The impending labor shortage left by baby boomers exiting the workforce will leave employers scrambling for top talent. What does this all mean for employees seeking greater flexibility – an opportunity to instill in the workplace increased value placed on flexibility.

Employers will experience:

  1. A Shortage of Qualified Candidates: Organizations will have increased difficulty finding qualified candidates for available positions, consequently, placing an increased focus on recruitment and retention of qualified employees.
  2. More Expensive Recruitment and Retention Campaigns: The rising costs of recruitment and retention of employees will leave employers looking for ways to cut costs. Costly benefits packages could fall victim to corporate cost-cutting plans.
  3. An Increased Need for Productivity: With fewer experienced employees, organizations will look for ways to increase productivity of current employees. Additional money will be spent on training and technology for the workforce.
  4. A Greater Acceptance of New Motivators: As corporations look to boost, recruitment, retention, and productivity, new motivators will become more acceptable. Flexible working options offer a great benefit to employees' work life balance while remaining low cost to employers.

If flexible work options are not offered to you as a new employee, ask about their availability to employees. With the entrance of the millennials into the workforce, a new set of values will also be ushered in. Make sure you are able to take advantage of all the benefits coming in the wake.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Flexible Position: Development and Marketing Manager

The Central Scholarship Bureau has been helping students pay for postsecondary education and training for almost 85 years. CSB is looking for a development and marketing professional to support its fundraising and communications strategies by increasing donations from individuals through an annual appeal; developing corporate and foundation funding sources; organizing special events; and planning publicity and marketing initiatives. The position is four eight hour days per week. Benefits include health insurance, retirement, and generous leave in a family friendly environment.

The preferred candidate will have four years of fundraising and marketing experience; grant writing ability or the willingness to learn; superior oral and written communications skills; and a passion for education.

Applications must be received by July 23, 2007. Candidates should send a letter of interest, a current resume, a writing sample, and a list of three references to Central Scholarship Bureau, 1700 Reisterstown Road, Suite 220, Baltimore, MD 21208 or by email to rringel

Posted 7/2/2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Proposed Model for Paid Maternity Leave

The Maine Women’s Fund blog, E-Quality Matters recently published a post, “Women in the Workplace” that explored a proposal to fund 12 weeks paid maternity leave for all employees.

California and Washington State are both experimenting with a new method for financing PAID maternity leave for EVERYONE (regardless of their company policy, company size, etc). …In the model introduced in the West, all regular employees contribute $.01 from each pay check towards an insurance fund. The fund is aggregated, invested, and used to cover the cost of 12 weeks paid maternity leave for all employed citizens. I like this model because somewhere deep down there is a recognition that society benefits from investing in moms and children.” (read more)

Currently, federal law protects employees taking time off for family and medical reasons under FMLA regulations that stipulate employees can take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave per year. Additionally, their employer may not retaliate against them for taking advantage of FMLA leave. However, in many other industrialized nations across Europe and throughout Asia, new parents are extended paid time off up to one year. Most American employees, with a lower tax burden, do not enjoy this benefit. The model discussed on the E-Quality Matters blog places the burden of funding paid maternity leave not on tax payers or employers but on fellow employees. These maternity leave benefits are then offered universally to new parents.

As the baby boomers exit the workplace, talent held by top female employees is coveted by companies nation-wide. Mothers who previously might elect to exit the workforce after childbirth are being encouraged to stay on staff with benefits packages that include paid maternity leave, flexible scheduling options, and childcare resources. Do you think the proposed model for paid maternity leave is fair? Is it feasible?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Why Part-Time Doesn't Always Work

When the results of a recent Pew Research study were released recently declaring that mothers prefer part-time work, I had initially decided not to jump on the band wagon of mommy bloggers who were less than surprised by the results. What mother juggling the majority of childrearing and housework responsibilities would not like to work a few less hours each week? Research like this only fans the flames of the so-called mommy wars by pitting at-home moms against working moms who might both be happier with a part time work schedule.

Recent events in my home have led me to revisit the results of this study and the many reasons why I have decided not to reduce my own work hours to a part time schedule. In fact, for many families, part-time work simply does not work.
  1. Part-time work = Part-time pay: Beyond the obvious math here, part-time employees doing the same job within the same industry make around $3 less per hour than their full-time counterparts.
  2. Benefits are cost prohibitive: Health and retirement benefits available to full-time employees are often unavailable to part-time employees. When equal benefits are purchased, an individual misses out on the discounts made available to large employers.
  3. Part-time does not always mean less than 40 hours: Most employees working a nontraditional schedule have experienced the reality that time spent away from the office during standard business hours is not sacred to coworkers. Crises and questions arise whether you are on vacation or home with your kids. Part-time employees who pick up that emergent phone call or check their work email daily will find themselves working several unbilled hours each week. Part-time quickly becomes less pay without a greatly reduced workload.
The best remedy is to seek work at a family friendly company with an acceptance of corporate flexibility. The more employees working any type of flexible arrangement, the more likely a corporation is to pay all employees on a common payscale. Similarly, family friendly employers may be more likely to offer prorated benefits to part-time employees passing along their corporate discount to all employees. The last one is up to you. Coworkers with similar family priorities may be less likely to call you at home, but you will need to personally define and communicate how much work you are willing to do on your time off. Do not feel bad letting coworkers know that you only work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday leaving you unavailable the remainder of the week. But then do not check your email until you are back in the office.

Would you prefer to work a part-time schedule at work? Let me know what you think it would take to make your part-time schedule a reality.

Flexible Position: Retail Sales and Lead Sales

For our Frederick Store, opening soon at Westview Promenade.
If you love to shop with us, why not come work at our store? Enjoy flexible hours, a fun and friendly work environment and a generous 40% employee discount. If you would like to be a part of the Coldwater Creek team, just cal (888) 477-6089. We're hiring for full-time lead sales management and part-time sales positions.

Please send correspondence to:

Human Resources,
Retail Recruiting

Mail campaign throughout July in the Frederick area.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Career Mapping Exercises That Can Help Organize Your Future

Would you start a home business without first writing a business plan? Would you enroll in a degree program without reviewing a degree audit? No, before making a huge investment of your time and money, you need to know what will be required and determine if the expectations are reasonable and feasible. Similarly, before entering the workforce, you should have a career map.

What is a Career Map?
A career map is a tool used to explore your future career development in the short and long term. It is a tool to help you consider your personal skills and values as they relate to your career goals and a specific job. The questioning involved is very open ended because individuals will vary greatly in the way they respond to questioning. Skills and values are left up to personal interpretation. Other exercises focus on brainstorming and reflection. The map is yours to create.

How to use a Career Map.
Career mapping exercises are designed to be thought provoking, so complete these exercises when you are not distracted. If you find the career mapping exercises intimidating, use as a part of a discussion group or coaching session. The career map I use with clients is linked below. Start your reflection now, but write in pencil, as goals and priorities change.

Career Mapping Exercises

Still have questions?
I have recently been selected as an expert at, a division of Come on over and ask me a question about Career Planning or explore one of the many other topics.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Flexible Position: Receptionist

Receptionist position at Darcars Toyota in Frederick with non-traditional work hours

Full time Receptionist
Monday -Friday 7-4
Apply in person at 5293 Buckeystown Pike, Frederick, MD. 21701

Posted on Frederick News Post 7/19/2007.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Resume Makeover Contest Winner

Lauren's Resume Before:

Many of the changes made to Lauren's resume are simple formatting changes intended to make her resume more readable to electronic resume scanning software. Notice, in Lauren's after, her name is centered on the page followed by her contact information, which is contained in one line sections. Additionally, I removed the columned feel of her resume and added bullet points, making her resume easier to read by hiring managers. Other changes to Lauren's resume include descriptions more focused on accomplishments and quantifiable results. I also removed Lauren's high school job at Subway which added no relevant work history beyond her other sales position.

Lauren's Winning Resume:

(Click on the images to view the resumes larger)

Congratulations Lauren on winning the resume contest. A polished resume can be the single most important self-marketing tool during a job search. Happy searching!

*Please note that this resume has been made anonymous by changing names and places.*

Monday, July 16, 2007

How My Vacation Offered Reprieve from Normal Work

I said that I would not work on my vacation. The week-long retreat to the beach with my family was well-deserved and perhaps long overdue. I enjoyed plenty of time at the beach, afternoons reading, and days where my young sons’ schedules ruled. However, without touching a keyboard, I found myself continuing to “work” often focusing on activities I do not always find time for throughout the standard work week.
  1. I read Cali Williams Yost’s book, Work+Life Fit and was inspired by her ideas about each individual’s role in creating a fit (not balance) for all life’s responsibilities.
  2. Inspired by Cali’s book, I rethought the vernacular I use to describe work-life balance determining that what I dislike about the term is the segregation of work from life. It seems to me that work, family, and other responsibilities should all be enmeshed together making up a fulfilling life. Watch for future musings on this topic.
  3. I checked my website and email with some regularity removing a bum poll whose links I lost early in the week. I am still very interested in your ideal work environment, so leave a comment below. The initial responses I did get through the poll were dominated by those who prefer working from a home office.
  4. I also kept an eye on some of my favorite blogs throughout the week including: Job-Mom, Business Week's Working Parents blog, and Family Friendly Work.
  5. Thought over and made plans for a few site improvements. Hopefully you will not even notice most of the changes I am planning. However, do look for more polls (with better links) and other easy interactive features in the near future.
  6. I talked with quite a few people about their work arrangements and preferences for scheduling options once again being reminded of the vast number of solutions for employees juggling varied responsibilities.
  7. I picked a winner for our Flexible Resume Makeover contest. Today I am working on making the resume anonymous, but look for our prized resume soon and congratulations to Lauren from Pennsylvania!
Now that the sand is washed off my feet, it’s back to work as usual.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Why I Will Not Work on Vacation Next Week

Flexible work arrangements such as telework and work at home arrangements give employees the flexibility of working outside a corporate office setting while taking the emphasis off putting in mere face time. However, the success of flexible work schedules hinges on the individual employee; ones needs in a work environment vary greatly. I need peace and quiet. I need distance from the distractions of the television, the refrigerator, the laundry. A successful home office can be set up to diminish or eliminate these distractions. Employees can also work outside the home from a telework center or leased office space. Modern internet connectivity has made working remotely adaptable to each employee and completely feasible for most.

However, I cannot take my home office on vacation with me and I do not work well in the local WiFi hot spots. So next week, while my family and I are on vacation, I will not be working remotely.

I would love to know, what is your ideal work environment? Leave me a comment telling me what is your ideal work space, a corporate office? home office? or some other location?

Also, take a moment to read Ryan Healy’s post on the Brazen Careerist blog, When Working on Vacation isn’t Work. Ryan pitches the question, what does it say about your career when you need 15 vacation days a year to completely disconnect. What do you think about his conclusion that you either dislike your job or work way too hard when you need to get away just to maintain sanity?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Monthly Tip: Summer Hours

Summer hours are offered at many companies as a way to keep employees motivated to work throughout the week when the weather is beautiful outside. Schedules can vary, but this seasonal flexible scheduling generally allows employees to compress their work week in order to take Friday afternoon off each week or every other Friday off entirely.

Consult your employee handbook for official policies regarding summer hours or ask an HR representative. Also, question coworkers who have been at the company for years or who seem to be taking advantage of summer scheduling.

Summer scheduling provides a great opportunity to steal some daytime hours in the sun and also to test the waters for a more permanent flexible scheduling arrangement. After three months of flexible scheduling and maintained high productivity, approach your boss in September with a proposal to keep your schedule as is throughout the year. Showcase the projects you completed over the summer and take note of your decreased need to take time off during the week. Summer hours are highly accepted in the corporate setting where flexible scheduling otherwise is not. Take this opportunity to show your boss how advantageous a flexible schedule can be for everyone.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Apple iPhone: Good for telecommuters and home business owners?

Friday evening, the Apple iPhone hit the shelves at Apple and AT&T stores across the United States to a market of salivating consumers and a crush of media. The new phone, part cell phone, part web browser, part iPod, may revolutionize cell phone usage. But could this pricey gadget make the lives of telecommuters and home business owners any easier?

What the iPhone can do

Like the original Macintosh computer, the iPhone makes mobile computing fast and simple with no pull down menus and a one-touch button on every screen returning you to the main menu.

For $20 a month on the AT&T service plan (AT&T exclusively for about 5 years) employees away from the office can enjoy access to email and web browsing with the touch of the screen.

Email and voicemail is easily accessible, both as a list of available messages. No computerized operator prompting you to dial one to listen to messages; you can select which message to hear and which to save for later. Word, Excel, and pdf files sent as email attachments can be viewed on the go giving you instant access to important information.

Users can manage interruptions. If listening to music or viewing video, you can accept a call by simply activating the microphone built into the headphone wire, instantly pausing all other media until the end of the call.

What the iPhone cannot do

The biggest concern from business owners has been the lack of third party support for iPhone applications. Apple will design and release software for the phone only as needed. Third party software will not be adaptable to the phone.

While you can view Word and Excel documents on the go you cannot edit them on the iPhone without using some sort of online document service, such as Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets.

The iPhone interfaces best with a Mac. Business owners using a PC will have more difficulty, although the iPhone is programmed to work with both.

The lack of a keyboard makes much typing difficult. Unlike its Blackberry and Treo counterparts, the iPhone utilizes a touch screen keyboard with word recognition software that takes some getting used to.

The battery life of the new iPhone is adequate for most days away from the office. With 8 hours of talk time and up to 24 hours of audio, the battery will need to be charged every other day or so. However, like other Apple products, when the battery dies after a few years, the consumer cannot replace the battery. The iPhone must be shipped back to Apple for a new battery at a fee to the user.

Is the iPhone for you and your business? Does constant access to the web and the office make it easier for you to work or harder for you to separate yourself from work? The success of Apple’s iPhone will soon tell.

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Flexible Workforce Solutions
State College, PA