Archive for July, 2012

Job interview with mum retuning to work

Job Interview Tips for Mums Returning to Work

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking at the best of times but especially so for mums returning to work. You might feel self-conscious about your appearance, unsure of your skills and uncertain about how your interviewers will see you.

The best way to overcome any fear and anxiety is to prepare well. Here’s a step by step guide to getting you ready for your next job interview:

1. Get the details

Once the date has been set for your job interview, make sure you have all the necessary details to hand including the physical address, interviewers name(s) and contact number in case you are running late or need directions.

Ask what format the interview will take and length of time allocated. The last thing you want is to underestimate the length of time allocated since you will have arranged childcare. If you are missing vital information don’t be afraid to email or telephone to clarify.

2. Research the company

Before your interview you should learn as much as you can about the company. There are a number of ways to research the company including the company’s website, annual reports, published articles, reports, conference papers and marketing materials. You can also research a company via a simple search online and via professional networking sites like LinkedIn, or social networks like Facebook and Google+.

3. Research the interviewers

It’s important to understand who will be interviewing you and what role they play in the company. Getting to know your interviewers before the interview will help you understand what they will be looking for in a new team member. Learn about your interviewers’ roles, responsibilities, skills and experience via the company’s website or view their public profiles on professional networking sites like LinkedIn and BeKnown.

4. Arrange childcare

It’s a good idea to arrange childcare well in advance and to have a back up option in case there are any last-minute changes in availability. Be sure to arrange for childcare for at least double the time you anticipate in case the interview goes over time or you experience any transport delays.

5. Dress for success

Make sure you have a suitable outfit to wear to your job interview that makes you feel the part. If necessary, buy a new outfit or if you are struggling financially contact Dress for Success, a charity that helps women on low incomes get back to work.

To help give you a boost, why not treat yourself to a mini makeover? Freshen up your look with a new hairdo and have your nails professionally done to make you feel your very best.

6.  Do a trial run

If you have the time, do a trial run to see how long it will take you to arrive at the interview venue and which mode of transport is best. Depending on where your interview will take place, you might have a number of transport options available to you. Select the most reliable, stress free option you can so you can arrive at your interview in a good frame of mind. Especially if you have been out of work for a longer time, it can also help to lose your initial awe for e.g. large office buildings or five-star hotels.

7. Hone your interview skills

It is crucial that you set aside some time to brush up on your interview skills. Develop some practice questions you think might be asked during the interview and, if possible, have someone role-play asking you the questions. Alternatively you can hire an interview coach who will put you through your paces and provide feedback on how to answer questions effectively. For more advice on preparing for a job interview read How To Prepare For A Job Interview on the Careerworx website. In case you are worried about talking about your career gap, read What to say at the interview about your career gap and recent work experience.

Do’s and Dont’s for returning to work mums

  • Do prepare as well as you can, there’s no such thing as over-preparing!
  • Do be confident in your ability to fulfil the role you are being interviewed for
  • Don’t voluntarily discuss your children or family circumstances during the interview unless specifically asked
  • Don’t feel intimidated if questioned about your family life, remain calm and steer the conversation back to your ability to do the job
  • Don’t let nerves get the better of you. If you do start to feel like a deer in headlights, take a moment to breathe and refocus.

Good luck!

Author: Lisa LaRue, MCareerDev, BSocSc(Couns), DipCareerGuid,  MICG is a Career Counsellor & Work-Life Coach at CareerWorx, Services Career worx offer include: career counselling and coaching, vocational assessment, CVs, cover letters and interview coaching.



Pregnancy of newly appointed Yahoo CEO – has the glass ceiling been smashed?

Pregnancy of newly appointed Yahoo CEO – has the glass ceiling been smashed?

The announcement last week that the newly appointed CEO and supposed saviour of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, is six months pregnant has ignited much debate. Whilst there has been some backlash, most commentary has been positive, citing Ms. Mayer as a prime example of women “having it all”.

What is apparent however, is that a woman holding a senior position at a Fortune 500 company whilst simultaneously expecting a baby is still a story worth reporting and debating. It should not come as a shock that a woman is expecting a baby. Would a similar amount of news coverage be given if the new Yahoo CEO was a man expecting a baby with his wife?

Ms. Mayer represents only the 20th current female CEO of a Fortune 500 company and women, as a whole, account for only four percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.

Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful to make decisions on the terms of a worker’s employment on the basis of their pregnancy. Unfortunately, there are many cases where women are refused employment or promotions, or even dismissed (including selection for redundancy) just because they are pregnant or take maternity leave.

Ms Mayer was recruited by Yahoo in June 2012. She is said to have disclosed her pregnancy to Yahoo’s board at the end of June, noting that none of the company’s directors seemed to have an issue hiring a pregnant chief executive. Of course, had Ms Mayer’s pregnancy resulted in a decision not to offer her the role, this would have been contrary to equality laws and Ms Mayer, had she worked in the UK, would have had a claim for sex discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. Successful claims for sex discrimination can open a company up to a claim for uncapped damages in an employment tribunal.

Ms. Mayer has stated that she intends to “work throughout” and to take only “a few weeks” of maternity leave. Whilst it is always positive to hear of female appointments to senior positions, particularly when that female is pregnant, Ms. Mayer does not represent the majority of working women. Indeed, the surrounding media hype and Ms Mayer’s approach to her maternity leave may suggest that, regrettably the ‘glass ceiling’ is very much still in place.

It is also apparent that shareholders and the public feel that they are entitled to be informed of Ms Mayer’s pregnancy furthermore, they feel they are entitled to comment and pass judgment. Hopefully, the appointment and confidence of the Yahoo Board will work to show that women, pregnant or not, are capable of working as whatever they choose and it is for no one to criticise their choices.

Author: Laura Molloy, employment solicitor at Manchester law firm Pannone

Top tax tips for start ups

Top tax tips for start ups

You’ve had your big idea, honed your business plan and decided to take the plunge into being your own boss and start up. Tax might be the last thing on your mind as you’ve just started your business and work to build your customer-base, suppliers and administration. But don’t bury your head in the sand: a little time spent planning for tax issues now will reap benefits in the long-term as you’ll be set up for the long-term from the outset. Here are five top tax tips to ensure you’re properly set up as a start up from the word ‘go’:

Think about business structure and tax

While a sole trader setup is the most simple option, there comes a point where incorporating the business to operate as a limited company means you’ll pay less tax because you can draw out some profit as dividends which have a lower effective tax rate. The definitive position depends on how much cash you need to draw from the business as well as any other sources of income you may have. Sole traders can offset any losses against other income, whereas companies can use losses against other company income but not against the income of an individual shareholder. However, using a company allows you to plan the timing of withdrawal of profits if your tax rate is likely to decrease. There are also non tax related advantages to operating as a limited company such as increased perception of professionalism and limited liability in the event of business failure.

Plan who will be involved

It’s possible to use the tax allowances of a non-working spouse to minimise the tax you pay as a family. For 2012-2013 the tax-free allowance is £8,105: even above this level dividends paid to a basic rate tax payer attract an effective tax rate of 0% because of the tax credit applied. Everyone is entitled to receive annual income of £8,105 with no tax deducted so using a spouse’s allowance can double the household’s tax free income.

Think about whether you need an accountant

Do you know your AIA from your WDA? Your VAT from your FRS? An accountant may seem like an expense you can do without, but often they will save you money by making you aware of allowances and claims you would otherwise have missed. But beware: anyone can call themselves an accountant as the term is not protected so ensure they are a member of a professional body such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). Many offer a free half hour consultation to small businesses.

Monitor your expenses

Most expenses can be claimed in your company or sole trader accounts as long as they are ‘wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade’. This includes premises costs, wages and salaries, utilities, administration costs and professional fees. If you run your business from home you can claim a reasonable proportion of domestic overheads. Keep receipts for all purchases, bills for all utilities and records of expenses such as hotel incurred when visiting clients. This will make your life a great deal easier when preparing end of year accounts and tax returns. Key expenses which are not allowable for tax purposes are company formation costs, depreciation and client entertaining so these must be added back to your accounting profit when calculating your tax liability.

Plan ahead for VAT

Broadly speaking, once your turnover of VAT taxable goods or services exceeds £77,000 (2012-2013 figure) you must register for VAT. You can register voluntarily if you feel this would be beneficial: this may be the case if you suffer VAT on purchases and wish to reclaim the tax you have paid. There are schemes available to small businesses which simplify the administrative and cash flow burden including the cash accounting scheme and the flat rate scheme. If you’re charging VAT remember that certain things must be included on your VAT invoice: see for details.

Author: Sarah Gardner is a Chartered Accountant specialising in tax advice at TWP Accounting LLP. She specialises in helping small businesses with their start up tax planning and assisting growing businesses with their ongoing tax issues. TWP Accounting provides accounting, audit, corporate finance and tax services to businesses nationwide.

If you have any questions contact, visit or follow @SarahGardnerACA and @twpaccountants on Twitter.