Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

What To Do When A Key Employee Goes On Maternity Leave


Your staff is a well-oiled machine–exceeding targets and meeting deadlines–with smiles on their faces and more enthusiasm than a cat chasing a mole. This is your dream team and life is good. And, then, it happens. The star of your brigade, the glue that keeps it all together, announces that she is four months pregnant and that, in less than five months, she will be abandoning you for maternity leave.
You may be tempted to shriek, throw yourself on the concrete at her feet, and beg her to stay–but you must resist. Rather than break into an undignified display of unbridled horror, you need to take a few deep breaths and consider a few cold, hard realities. Women have babies all the time. They are entitled to maternity leave. And, you and your team will survive. Here’s how.

1. Squeal with delight not fright

Although this impending maternity leave may be catastrophic in your eyes, it is an exciting time in the life of your employee. She is likely thrilled with her good news and “raining on her parade” will not only make you look like a self-absorbed jerk in the eyes of your other employees, but it may also alienate the expectant mom. Keep in mind that you do want her to return.

Instead, let her know you are happy for her. Show some enthusiasm for this new chapter in her life. And, most importantly, tell her that you want to make the whole process as easy and stress-free for her as possible.

2. Develop a plan

While your employee’s long-term plans may change–some mothers come back early and some never return at all–it is important to find out what her plans are as of that moment. An expected return date–even a tentative one–will, at the very least, give you something to work with.

Consulting with the expectant mom regarding her temporary replacement can be very helpful too. She will want to ensure that her replacement can keep on top of her job and not leave her a huge mess to clean up upon her return. She may be able to provide you with the name of an ideal candidate or give you insight into whether or not a current staff member may be able to fill her shoes.

3. Fill the position

Many companies make the mistake of not filling the gap left by a maternity leave. Instead, other employees–many of whom already have huge workloads–are expected to adopt more duties. It may save the company money, but it can have a devastating effect on those left behind.

For one thing, overworked employees make mistakes and miss deadlines–all things that can be extremely detrimental to your business. Plus, stressed out employees who are forced to take on extra duties for little or no extra pay become disgruntled workers. And the last thing you need right now is to lose anyone else from your team.

Whether you hire a temporary person from the outside or move someone into the position from within, the fact is that you need to fill the vacancy with a capable individual who can dedicate their full attention to that job.

4. Keep the lines of communication open

It is important to keep your employees in the loop-even the one that is on maternity leave. Call her to see how she and the baby are doing. Ask to see photos. Let her know that she is still a valued part of the team and that she will be welcomed back with open arms.

Losing a key player to maternity leave does not have to mark the end of your first-string team. Celebrate your employee’s happy news, develop a plan, fill the position, and strive to make the return of your crew’s newest mother a smooth one. So pick yourself up off the ground, brush the dirt from your knees, and, for Heaven’s sake, stop screaming.

What steps do you and your staff take to handle maternity leaves? 



6 Reasons Why NEETs Should Pass Their Test Even If They Don’t Have A Car

Guest Blog from Erika Bergeson: 

Many teenagers dream of the day that will be old enough to learn to drive. They start their driving lessons, and then start to think about which car they would like. They often look at the cars that their family and friends are driving, or what they think is cool! Some put off learning to drive, because they cannot afford a car, but they could still go ahead and learn quite easily.

Job Opportunity – One good reason for learning to drive young, is the fact that it can be added to your CV. This could prove to be a valuable asset to have when the time comes to looking for a career opportunity. If you can already drive, you can look further afield for employment and worry about getting a car to use, once you have got the position. Make sure you choose the right profession though, as car insurance can be higher if you do an at risk job!

Car Insurance – Did you know that by learning to drive young, and passing your test, will actually help you to get cheaper insurance than if you wait until you are older. By waiting until you can afford a car, you are not gaining anything. The longer that you hold a full driving licence can reduce the cost of your insurance.  Parents can add you to their car insurance, and may get it a lot cheaper than you getting it independently. This will also help you to gain more driving experience until you can afford a car.

Driving Lessons – The longer that you wait to learn to drive, will push up the cost of your driving lessons. They increase annually, and offers that are available for driving lessons now, will not be as cheap this time next year.  You now have to take your Theory Test and Hazard Perception Test, which are presently available to practice online for free with several websites. This may not be the case in another year.  National driving schools, such as Drive Dynamics, give you free access to practice on your Theory and Hazard Perception tests as often as you like, when learning to drive with them, so why wait?  You may find that the cost of your driving test also increases again, and yet again you will have missed out!

Time To Learn – As you leave school and start a career, or go to University, time is not always available for driving lessons. This is another good reason for you take your lessons as a teenager.  You have 13 weeks holiday per year from school, and always arrive home before tea time, so there are plenty of opportunities to learn to drive. If you do not set aside time, you will regret it later on in life, and miss out. If you cannot fit in lessons over long periods of time, then you could look at an intensive driving course to lessen the time.

Independence And Maturity – Imagine how you would feel walking into school or college and announcing to everyone that you had passed your driving test. You would finally have the independence you desired, to get out and about, without having to ask for lifts everywhere. You can sweet talk Mum and Dad to lend their car, and the world is your oyster! It also makes you feel like an adult instead of just being another teenager. You are different, you can drive!

Ability To Learn – Children always have a natural ability to learn and soak up knowledge presented to them. This ability carries on right through your teenage years, and the Theory and Hazard Perception Test is easier for teenagers to memorise. Whilst in education, they learn new concepts quicker, and have the ability to remember things.  As you get older, and you start work, get married, start a family, you find it harder to memorise things. This is a good reason for teenagers to learn to drive, as they are willing to practice and learn driving skills, and are sharper minded to remember the skills taught to them.

Learning to drive at any age gives you independence, and is a great asset to have, but you will benefit more if you learn when younger. The scope it will give you in life is invaluable.


About the Author: Ericka Bergeson is a passionate business coach for small to medium sized businesses. When she isn’t working, she loves to write about a variety of topics, including business.



Guest Bloggers Required!

Well, we are certainly attracting a bit of web traffic now, which is great to see, and throwing open the chance for you to add your guest blogs to this site.

Maybe you are a recruiter, an image consultant, a careers advisor, life coach, HR consultant or job hunter? If so then let us know if you would like to write us a guest blog article, sharing your news, hints, tips and advice with links through to your site!

Simply email with your article (around 400-700 words) and  share your expertise. Don’t forget to include a short bio on yourself and your web address if you have one.


How to deal with illegal job interview questions

In accordance with employment laws, there are certain questions that interviewers should not be asking you.

For example:

  • a question relating to your age that would not be asked of someone younger, or older, than you would be breeching the Age Discrimination Act (2006)
  • a question relating to whether you are male or female, that has no bearing on the role, could be considered a direct breech of the Sexual Discrimination Act (1975)

or,  have you felt uncomfortable with questions about your race, disability or sexual orientation?

I was once asked in an interview for an office job if I was planning at any stage to get pregnant and go on maternity leave as they didnt want someone who was going to be off having children. I was a bit taken aback and asked them if they would have asked that question if I was male and they said, “Well of course not”. I walked out of the be interview. I didn’t want to work for a company like that.

So what is the best way of handling such “illegal” questions? In an interview when you are probably nervous anyway this is added pressure you don’t need. You need to answer assertively to get your point across but without being confrontational.  You could of course walk out, like I did, but if you really want to work for them then responses such as:

“I am sure that question is just a friendly enquiry but I’d prefer not  to answer that as I don’t think it has any bearing on my ability to do the job”

“Can I tell you about my work experience instead?”

Leave a comment about the kind of uncomfortable questions you have been asked that you feel were discriminative (but don’t name the company that asked – I don’t want a lawsuit on my hands!) and the responses you gave. I’m intrigued to know if interviewers are a bit more careful these days or not!




How to answer the weakness question!

It’s a question that always seems to arise in an interview and one that few people prepare themselves for. The dreaded “What are your weaknesses?” question. It may be dressed up as “What are your areas of development?”, but it still means the same thing and has brought many an experienced interviewee out into a cold sweat.

You don’t want to show the interviewer your warts as, after all, you really want this job. You want them to know what you are good at, not all the things you can’t do.

So, what is the right way to go about answering this question and still paint yourself in a good light?

Keen to seek the perfect answer, we put the question to a group of job hunters of all levels of experience. The best answer came from the President of an Environmental Service Company. This, is brilliant advice:

“I’m no expert, but here is how I think one should handle this type of question.

1st – identify one of your true weaknesses, everybody has them,
2nd – identify what you’ve done to overcome the weakness or attempt to avoid it or minimise the effect,
3rd – weave yourself a storyline to be used in the interview, make it short and concise so that you can quickly move on to the next question,
4th – include a real world example,
5th – overall be honest with yourself and with the interviewer…after all, the question isn’t intended to actually determine your weakness, it’s intended to see how you handle the question. The worst thing you can do is lie or give a trite answer like “I have no real weaknesses” as a good interviewer will see right through it. Also, if your real weakness is one that truly threatens your chance to be good at the job, maybe, for your own sake, you should be looking for a different job. The honesty part helps you most of all.

Here is my storyline, and it is all true…”I’m a knowledge hound, when I get involved in a new area, I dive in and learn everything I can until I am completely confident in my knowledge. I also enjoy teaching folks and sharing my knowledge. Sometimes, if I’m not careful, I can come off as arrogant. To protect against coming off as arrogant, I have developed a few techniques.

Firstly, I try to ask a lot of questions. This helps keep the conversation two way instead of it becoming a lecture, it also helps me focus on the exact information the other party would like to learn.

Secondly, I developed a specific technique as a result of a specific incident in a sales call. I was once accused of lying. A very technical customer said that it was impossible for me to be able to answer all of his questions, so I must be lying to him in at least one of my answers. After that, I was always sure to intentionally leave at least one question unanswered. I would tell the customer that while I couldn’t answer the question right now, I could get him the answer. Then I would call the customer within an hour after leaving the sales call, and provide the answer. This would work doubly well in that I would never be suspected of lying merely because I was able to answer all the questions, and it would show my commitment to getting the customers’ questions answered by using my network of resources.”

The main thing to remember when answering this question is to ensure that you explain to the interviewer what it is you need to do, or are doing, to overcome that weakness. This tells the employer that you are proactive, you seek to strengthen your skills and would develop within the role.

Everyone has weaknesses, but not everyone has a plan as to what they are going to do about it. Make sure you do!


How to write a business plan

A business plan is crucial if you are thinking of setting up on your own. It will enable you to think carefully about what you will need to make your business work and is essential if you are trying to gain investment for your fledgling business. It should be a document that you continually refer to as your business develops.

A good business plan will cover the following points:

Executive summary – often written last but always read first. It is a summary of your business proposition, experience of the management team,  the product or service, summary of sales anticipated, market and financial summary. Try and keep it to 1-2 pages at the most.  This will be what investors want to see. If they like what they read they will read the rest of the plan in more detail.

Business background – detail as to the experience of the management involved. How did the business come about? What are its aims? Perform a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats/risks) that face your business.

Product/Service -What is your product/service? What are its selling points?  What is the price? Who are you aiming this product/service at?

Operational info – How will your business operate? Do you have premises? What will the overheads be? Who will manage  the company day to day?

Marketing Plan – Who are your competitors? Have you carried out market research to see if there is a need for this product/service? How much do you plan to spend on marketing? What sales tactics will you use? How exactly will you advertise/market yourself?

Financial info – a full breakdown of costs anticipated, investment required and finance already provided by management team, overhead costings, sales projections, profit and loss projections, and cashflow forecast for the next five years.

For more information on writing a business plan go to . They provide all the details and advice you need to get your idea off the ground.

In addition,  most banks have a small business advisor who can help you with all of the above.

Good luck!



Be confident! Part Three – AFTER the interview

Hopefully you were successful and landed the job but what should you do AFTER an interview to stay confident if things didn’t go so well?

1. You may be feeling disappointed but first thing is DON’T take it personally! Stay positive.

2. Ask the employer/recruitment agency for feedback. Although is may be tough to hear it’s vital to know where you can improve for interviews in the future. Keep persisting with recruitment agencies as they can be slow to return feedback calls to candidates that didnt get through.

3. Don’t beat yourself up over things you should have said/could have answered better etc. Yes it’s good to know what you can improve but if you dwell on it, then it will be at the back of your mind for the next interview. Let it go and move on!

4. Don’t keep letters of rejection. I knew one guy who kept all his rejection letters in a file. Why do that ? Just to depress yourself?

5. Pick up the jobs paper, hit google or call round agencies to ensure that you are continuing the search for the next opportunity. Don’t sit about feeling sorry for yourself.

6. Read through your list of strengths and achievements and remind yourself of all the things you are good at.

7. As my Dad always says “What’s meant for you won’t go by you”. Obviously this job was just not meant to be and you’ll find a much better one soon!

So, stay positive and keep looking!

Good luck!



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