Hold The Morning Muffin

I turned on my television the other morning to hear the news that said (something to the effect of…)
New research shows that children of Moms who work (regardless of marital status) show an increased rate of obesity
In listening to the report, I felt myself split into 2, separate but equal parts both of which were peering through the threshold into my family room, to where my kids were watching a video and evaluating their physical “shape”…that is until I slapped myself.
One part of me was sad while the other was irate (the irate side won the battle and prevails as my standpoint on this subject).
Anything that starts with “Women who choose to pursue a career….” is going to be a tough pill for me to swallow, and on this morning, true to form….That statement is where Ms. Irate started to gain her stronghold.
Don’t shoot the messenger….
 Listen here you woman with the perfectly coiffed hair and  airbrushed makeup speaking to me from in front of the fake NYC street-scape…for most of the women I know who work full-time outside of the house (and there are MANY!), there was not much of a “choice” involved…unless you consider feeding, housing & clothing their families a “choice.” 
In so many of the relationships that surround me, both adult partners in the household must maintain employment outside of the home, in order to keep the household going and keep the family together.   In the families I know headed by a single Parent, the need of that parent (regardless of their gender) to maintain employment outside of the home becomes even that much more critical.
That being said, I was also angered by the fact that the child-obesity statistic at the heart of the report centered upon “Mothers who work”…to say nothing of the Fathers who work.  Are you kidding me?  So now….not only am I responsible for the overall denigration of the fabric of the American family, but I’m also literally tipping the scales for my kids????  What’s next…I shot J.R.?
 A POUND of Panic is worth….
Buried until the VERY end of the segment was the fact that the increase in weight at the heart of this study, amounted to about 1 pound per child.  So really, what amounts to a child indulging in an extra scoop of mint chocolate chip, is what ALERTED the media to the pending doom we Working Moms are subjecting our children?
Every time I read or hear about a guilt-laiden “study” such as this one, I immediately think “Oh right, silly me, I should’ve known 15 years ago that having/raising healthy and happy children and working to provide for those children, was an “either/or” situation.  I missed that in the parenting manual that came strapped to my child’s arm on delivery day.
In any case…back to the morning muffin and here’s to no more morning television!
The Working Mom

Purple Gloves and other ponderings

While I was in the car with my family the other night, my daughter could be heard saying (with her mouth turned in a frown and in her best, most pathetic sounding voice)

“Mom, I NEED a pair of purple gloves”.

My 5 year old son quickly chimed in “You WANT a pair of purple gloves, you don’t NEED them”.

Intrigued that he’d made the distinction, I asked him what the difference was between Need and Want.  He said “A need is something you need to survive but something you want is just something that would be nice to have”. 

Pretty astute I thought, and it got me thinking about needing and wanting, in terms of my own professional/personal life.

I remember, very clearly, as an early 20-something just starting out on my own and in the workforce, how every so often I’d think to myself “Wow…I NEED a vacation” or “I need a new handbag or a skirt or a stereo” etc. etc. etc.  My needs (or so I thought) were many, but my funds were few.  

As I’ve gotten older, and life has changed with the addition of more challenging positions at work combined with a Husband and now 2 children, it’s funny how my needs and wants have changed dramatically.  What I thought I needed in my 20s, I really just wanted…the vacation, the handbag etc.

As life situations get more complicated, those same things really do become needs.  A vacation, just for the sake of getting out of town, is something I aspire to take however these days, my vacation is typically spent catching up on any outstanding errands/appointments/chores that I haven’t gotten to since my last “vacation”.  You certainly won’t find a picture of the kids and me waiting on line at the DMV for my registration renewal, to appear on any of the destination brochures you see at the travel agency…and if you do, let me know- they owe me royalties!

You know how “staycations” have become all the rage in this latest economic downturn?  Well I’ve been doing staycations for the last 6+ years!  Who knew I was a trend-setter?

But at the same time as it seems nearly impossible to take a vacation in the traditional sense of the word, I probably need one now more than ever.  I, as I’m certain is the case with most adults, could really use a few days to disconnect from all of the daily goings on, and just sit somewhere…on a beach perhaps,  with no responsibilities other than relaxation.

As for handbags….who needs a new one of those (even when you’re schlepping around with a broken strap and missing clasp) when there are Playstations and Pillow Pets, Barbies and bicycles…let alone school tuition, daycare, food and the list goes on and on and on?

For a while, I tried to deny the shift in my reality.  In my own mind, I insisted that my wants (the new shoes, highlights for my hair etc) were equally as addressed as those of every other member of my family- clearly that’s not the case yet surprisingly, I’m perfectly ok with that.

It’s the needs…..taking a break just to do nothing, that I’m working on addressing.  I think those things or better yet NOT doing those things, will in the long-run sabotage my best-efforts at personal and professional success.

I think that we, as dynamic professionals with dynamic personal lives, can do it all and make it all work…but making it work takes work and that’s a concept that I struggle with each and every day.

How about you?

-The WM 

Take the escalator….take the help

I love a good escalator.

It’s a well-established fact about me….. If there’s a stairwell and an escalator right there next it, I can guarantee you that 100% of the time…I’m taking the escalator.

I thought about this, this morning as I was making my usual commute into my office via the NJ-PA train line I take every day. As I approached the part of the station where there is an escalator next to a stairwell, I watched a few of my fellow commuters running up the steps and I thought to myself (as I boarded my moving staircase to the sky) “No way….I’m taking this escalator because it’s the littlest bit of help I’m going to get during my rush into the office this morning. Exercise be damned!”

Once I was seated on my train, I thought about it again (in writing this…I’m beginning to think that I think about escalators WAY too much) …”Take the escalator…take the help”. Like a weird chant heard at a political convention…. “Take the escalator….take the help”.

In this day in age, everyone is in a hurry…overwhelmed with responsibility….worried about the finances (personal and global)….concerned about our communities and the list goes on, and on, and on and then on some more.

Sometimes I think that when I spend so much of my time focusing on the “big problems”, most of which I have no control over, I forget that I do have some control over the smaller issues I face on a day to day basis.

I think that very often, in an effort to keep myself running on the treadmill that is my life, I’m afraid to accept an offer of help (someone offering to pick up one of my kids for a playdate or someone offering to help with one of my Room-Mother projects, or someone offering to help me with a situation at work etc.) for fear that it will somehow catapult me off the treadmill only to take me that much longer to get back on and get balanced again.

Sidebar….I once did get “catapulted” off of an actual treadmill when I set the speed too high in an effort to keep up with the MUCH more in-shape people running next to me at the gym.  It wasn’t pretty.  I haven’t shown my face in that gym ever since.

I have no problem offering my help to someone in need, and yet I think twice before accepting the help myself.  This is RIDICULOUS….and I need to realize that right now.

It does “take a village”…and sometimes, the village finds you before you find it, often in the form of someone extending an offer of assistance.  I’m not suggesting that everyone should rely on the help of others to accomplish their daily routine (job, role etc.).  I’m simply suggesting that accepting a little bit of help when it’s offered, or asking for a little bit of help when it’s needed, isn’t going to somehow impair our success at being a parent, employee, spouse etc. In fact, it’s much more likely to make us better.


The Working Mom


From The Desk Of The Working Mom and Her Working Kids

If you’re anything like me, you’re always searching for ways to shave minutes off of your morning routine in an attempt to NOT have to set the alarm any earlier than it’s already set. I treasure every second of every minute that I am able to sleep…allbeit with a stray elbow or knee shoved into my back on the nights when we get a visitor (or 2) in the middle of the night.

In my ongoing quest to be more efficient and less crazed in the morning, I borrowed a tip from one of my Daughter’s teachers. In her class, everyone has a “job”. There’s the “line leader” and there’s also the “end of the line leader”. There’s the child who gets to supervise cleanup after lunch and the child in charge of pushing in the chairs at the tables.  Rumor has it that the cleanup kid is mighty quick to dispose of your uneatens, so if you want those Cheez-Its than you’d better get to it.

My Daughter’s favorite job is the “end of the line leader” and when I asked her why, she told me…because the end of the line leader gets to turn off the lights before the class leaves the room.  To a 3 year-old, flipping that light switch is a VERY big deal.

So back to thinking about being less crazed in the morning…….”Ahaa” I thought. Jobs….right.

There are so many little things that make leaving the house in the morning something akin to scaling
Mt. Everest. In an attempt to apply my “jobs” idea to the morning hustle, I decided to itemize all of the little time-wasters and distribute them to my children as “jobs”.

We have the “leash getter” i.e. the one who gets the leash for our dog’s morning trip outside (That person is coincidentally, the “leash putter awayer” as well) There’s also the “Bookbag filler” i.e. the one who puts the lunch boxes in each bookbag and zips them up. NOTE: I always make sure to check the Bookbag Filler’s work because we did have an instance where a lunch was mistakenly NOT put into the bookbag, and I came home to a VERY pouty kid because they were subjected to the school lunch.

In total, we have about 6 jobs distributed amongst the two children. So far, they’re pretty good about taking care of their responsibilites. As a bonus, every once in a while a day will pass when they don’t pester me for a “prize” for doing their jobs.

So far we’ve seen two benefits….I’m getting out a few minutes earlier (aka on-time) and they’re feeling more a part of the routine.

Now…if only I could get them to walk the dog, do the grocery shopping, wash and fold laundry, pay the bills, etc. etc. etc.

– The WM


From the desk of the working Mom…..

Welcome to “The Desk of the Working Mom”…..My desk, as is my life, is messy but in the end and after some digging, I can usually get things pretty well straightened out.

These recurring blog posts are going to be related to the trials and tribulations often experienced by working parents (not just the Moms).  I hope to offer tips and  tales and create an overall “experience share”. I encourage your feedback, questions and by all means….SOLUTIONS, if you can offer any suggestions to the dilemmas we’ll tackle.

Today’s subject….random non-school/daycare days.  By random, I’m referring to those days not designated and/or noted on the calendar as holidays.  While they are often scheduled and I am alerted to these at the beginning of the school year, they still seem to sneak up on me.

In NJ, there is a week in November that’s cut short due to the annual Teachers Conference that’s held in Atlantic City.  As a kid, I remember this being a very cool, pre-Thanksgiving vacation.  As a Parent, it really throws a wrench into the schedule considering I’m forced to juggle the work schedule while trying to find “fill in” daycare.

One smart solution I’ve found and I wanted to share are daycare centers that offer “drop-in daycare”.  Very often these centers require very little notice for a reservation for your child and they will charge you a per hour or per diem rate for the care.  Until recently, these centers were tough to find however in the past couple of years, I’ve seen more and more of them springing up around the area. 

Please let me know what suggestions you may be able to offer regarding “random non-school/daycare days”….I’m happy to pass them along.

–The WM (aka Heidi)

Watch Out For Job Scams

The Wall Street Journal has a great article that job seekers should read.  I have pasted the story below and provided a link to the original article.  Always be careful giving out your personal information!

“With the jobless rate still high, more job-spamming websites than ever are popping up to prey on the unemployed.
The Better Business Bureau recently released a report on how to spot such sites — which typically promise to help you find a job after you provide payment or personal information upfront. The people running the scam sites then take off with the money or use the personal information for identity theft.
“Folks looking for jobs, maybe even desperate at the time, are more apt to consider these opportunities that might not be legitimate,” says Felicia Thompson, a vice president of communications for the Better Business Bureau.  The biggest red flag is a request for your sensitive personal information, such as a bank account or Social Security number. Such information is never requested at the start of a legitimate job-search process.
Job hunters also should be wary of sites that only allow you to communicate with someone via email. If there’s a hiring company and contact information listed on the site, do an online search on that information. Also check the Better Business Bureau (bbb.org) for complaints.
Another red flag: A testimonial from a “working mom” claiming to be supplementing her income while working from home. And if a site makes “As Seen On” claims from national or local news outlets, verify that the story was reported.”

Salary Negotiations

There are many topics that will be covered here on the Accountants For You Blog.  Occasionally we will highlight articles that we find online and repost them here.  One topic that I think many people will have an interest in is “How to win salary negotiations”.

CNN.com ran an article recently that spoke about this topic and I have reposted it below which we can discuss in the comments below.
“While some employment opportunities state in black and white what wage an applicant can expect if hired, other positions are grayer in terms of salary.
Talking about money with a potential employer might feel a bit awkward, but coming to terms that leave both sides content is crucial.
Below, experts offer suggestions on how to prepare for salary negotiations.
Not wanting to look like they are only in it for the money, job seekers often hesitate to break the ice on the issue of salary. Is it OK for a candidate to bring up the topic?
“I get asked this question by friends all the time, and the honest answer is that it depends entirely on the position,” says Paul Peterson, national talent resource manager with Grant Thornton in Toronto.
“If you are a campus hire, you do not ask upfront (first interview) as it can give the impression that you are solely money-focused. For experienced candidates, it’s perfectly appropriate to bring up the topic, especially if you want to ensure that you are at least close in range.”
Anastasia Valentine, a product strategist and career coach from Ottawa, agrees that it is fine to bring up salary during the initial meeting — but not as the first point in the conversation. If the employer doesn’t eventually broach the subject, a tasteful approach is to ask for a salary range.
The dreaded question
Perhaps no question scares candidates as much as, “What salary are you expecting from this position?” The last thing the applicant wants to do is sell himself short, but he also might fear pricing himself out of the running.
Jen Rallis, author of “Ugly Résumés Get Jobs,” suggests turning the tables by asking, “What salary range are you willing to pay for this position?” Once the employer provides a range, the candidate can simply respond, “That’s suitable” if the numbers are in line with his needs.
Likewise, job seekers being pressed for figures can offer the employer a suitable range. To avoid making an uneducated guess, candidates should find out before the interview what similar positions in the field are paying.
“Being prepared and understanding market rates for the worth of experience and skills not only demonstrates confidence and preparation, it also keeps the discussion on a factual versus emotional level,” Valentine says. “This speaks volumes to an employer beyond the request for a specific dollar amount.”
Peterson advises choosing numbers carefully.
“Candidates need to remember the cardinal rule when giving ranges: If you give a range, for example 60-75K, the employer generally remembers the 60 while the candidate remains focused on the 75. Be prepared to give a small range.”
Proving worth
Candidates who land offers at the higher end of a salary range are ones who can demonstrate to an employer that they are worth the price. Some ways to do that include:
Quantifying experience. (“My client increased sales by 8 percent after implementing my marketing idea.”)
Researching the company beforehand so that you can tailor information to its needs. (“I see the company is interested in becoming ‘greener.’ Here are some ways I might be of help.”)
Pointing out any extras that set you apart (advanced training, special certifications, knowledge of a second language, etc.).
Reaching an agreement
Ideally, both sides should have similar expectations regarding salary by the time an offer is issued. Yet sometimes there are surprises.
Lisa Martin of Vancouver, British Columbia, a top talent consultant and coach for Lisa Martin International, suggests this diplomatic approach to dealing with an unfavorable offer:
“Call back the next day (do not use e-mail or any other electronic format where your intent can be misunderstood) and tell the interviewer all the reasons you’d like to work with the company but that after due consideration there seems to be a misalignment with their needs and the value you bring to the organization. Ask if there is a way to bring the two into better alignment. If there seems to be interest, make a counteroffer.”
Rallis agrees that most employers will leave room for negotiation — if not on salary then on other benefits. “Ask if a car allowance, cell phone allowance or extra vacation days are available to compensate for a lower salary.”
Finally, try to view negotiations as seeking a win-win situation for all involved. An employer with enough interest to go through all the stages leading up to an offer has already invested a fair amount of time and energy. The company may be just as eager as you to make things work.”


Welcome to the Accountants For You Blog!

Accountants For You is a Temporary, Temp to Perm, and Permanent Staffing Firm here in Philadelphia. We are a boutique firm that prides ourselves on the customer service we provide to our clients as well as our candidates.

We are not your average recruiters. We strive for boundless sensitivity and value to both our candidates we represent and the clients we serve. Top talent can not be taken for granted; having the right people, or the wrong people, can make all the difference in any company.

We listen. We find out what our clients want and need. Sometimes our perspective can assist our clients in defining what they are looking for. We have earned the right to be known as perceptive, insightful and persistent. We pay attention to people and nuances.

We deliver – to both the companies seeking talent and the candidates looking for optimal opportunities. We care about the recruiting industry, and love nothing more than to share best practices with our peers in order to lift us all up.

We want to take the Staffing Industry back to its roots by providing unsurpassed customer service. No matter the time, nor the day, Accountants For You will be able to assist with any of your staffing needs. We have filled positions on New Years Day and from thousands of miles away. Accountants For You is never “on vacation” or “too far” to assist you with your staffing needs. We will do whatever it takes to make sure our clients are taken care of.

Accountants For You is a Nationally Recognized Women’s Business Enterprise.

We will be having some great new features on this blog including “From the desk of the working mom” which will have great tips for working parents.

We will also have tips for job seekers on how to further their career and tips for hiring managers on how to find and retain the best talent.

As always, never hesitate to call us at 215-988-7200 or email us at Info@AccountantsForYou.com with any questions you might have. We can’t wait to hear from you!