Monday, January 26, 2009

Your Off-Ramping Plan

A research study conducted by The Center for Work-Life Policy found that 93% of women currently “off-ramped” are interested in going back to work at some point. These findings make it clear that women are not retiring, but rather taking a temporary break from their careers to care for their children. Here are some tips to make an easier adjustment in going back to work ("on-ramping") while you are staying home:
  • Get back in touch with previous bosses and co-workers. If you’ve lost touch, check out the company’s or organization’s websites to see if they still work there. You can also use popular and effective networking tools such as LinkedIn to re-establish contact if they are not. Try to schedule a coffee, lunch or simply have a call if you are long distance once or twice a year to update your contacts on what you are doing. Remember you may need to call on them later as references. Take steps now to build up your network.

  • Take leadership roles in volunteer organizations to utilize your background or to learn new skills that will help you in your next career. All the experts I have talked to say that substantial volunteer work should be included on your resume in its own section. Be selective on what you volunteer for. Remember quality experiences are better than quantity.

  • Constantly review and update your resume with recent achievements involving part-time positions and volunteer experiences. Use active business terms and if possible, include dollars raised or saved, a budget you managed, or a team you managed for volunteer positions.

  • Consider taking classes, getting an additional degree or starting your own business to fill-in the “gap” on your resume. More importantly, you will learn new skills and have experiences to talk about in applying for that first position back to the workforce.

Christine Fruehwirth is a career and life coach in the Washington, DC area. She is focused on helping women return to the workforce or finding more work/family balance in their current careers. For more information on her practice, please contact her at

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More Bucks for your Bang

In a perfect world, parents could take a few years out of the workforce and jump back in at the same salary level with an increase in flexibility to allow for increased demands at home. Clearly, this isn't a perfect world. In evaluating flexible work options, a candidate must consider a number of factors- from schedule, to flexibility to daycare options- to determine what the best overall fit will be.

One thing I encourage Momentum Resources candidates to consider is marginal value. There are plenty of non-financial motivators to take a particular, or any, job, but when comparing apples to apples, which job gives you the most bucks for your hourly bang, net of associated childcare costs?

I ran across a very interesting CareerBuilder article today that evaluates the Top 20 Jobs that pay more than the national salary median for less than full-time. Most jobs are in the 35-38 hours/week range, but the hourly pay makes them compelling values. Now, you're not going to say all of a sudden "I'm 45 but now I want to be an airline pilot because I can earn $95/hour" but if you are considering a more realistic career switch, or are in an associated career, this list of make-more-earn-less is worth a look.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Community Marketing

Today my family and I participated in the National Day of Service by cleaning up the Dyke Marsh at Belle Haven Park and Marina in our neighborhood. As we picked up cigarette butts, plastic bottles and even a 5 pound dumbell, I got to thinking.....what are some smart ways to enhance your brand, raise your visibility and help the community at large?

I've found a couple of really great local examples, entrepreneurs who happen to be mothers, that are doing just that.

Take Donna Memmo, whose coffee & chat house Spill the Beans recently opened in the Mount Vernon area of Alexandria. On Tuesdays from 3-5 PM patrons can bring in elementary-aged school children for help with their homework from local middle- and high-schoolers who need mandatory community service hours while parents sip (and buy!) coffee and treats.

Or take Mary Kearns of Herban Lifestyle, who took advantage of her Washington, DC location to launch a new product, organic lip balm aptly named O-Balm-a. With all proceeds going to charity, Mary capitalized on a marketing opportunity that elevated her brand and gave much-needed funds to Feeding America.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Saving Money at Home - Part 2 of 2

I've surveyed some of the best budgeters I know (who happen to be moms, of all ages and stages) and they've shared with me some tips for saving money at home. Some are new and creative, others are "greatest hits" that hold true today.
  • Shop sales, but only for items on your list and meal plan, and think outside of the grocery store box. This week, the Walgreen's on my street corner is advertising a gallon of milk for $2.99 and my favorite coffee is $.49 cheaper at Target.
  • If you  have a non-budgeted expense, especially for a "want" and not a "need," gather all the loose change in the house and  head to a bank, such as TD Bank's Penny Arcade, to have it counted and doled out for free.
  • Barter away! Find your special skill, talent or interest and trade it for what you need within your  network. My neighbors and I do this all the time, swapping haircuts, birthday cakes and even tax advice when needed.
  • Bulk up, and pare down. Buy snack food items in bulk and serve up smaller portions in snack-sized baggies or even reusable plastic containers. Your waistline will get smaller while your wallet looks bigger.
What are your favorite tips? Come on, share with the class, we could all use a little help these days!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Creative Money Saving Tips for Work - Part 1 of 2

I was inspired recently by a conversation among members of The Enterprising Moms, a group I'm a part of that helps women growing families and businesses, about saving money at both home and work (often a home or small office). Some great money saving tips were bandied about, and I thought I'd share some with you:
  • Use a Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol (VOIP) service such as Vonage or Packet 8 for affordable phone services
  • Reuse paper (I even recycle the back sides of junk mail paper!) by printing on both sides
  • Use fax services such as or eFax to avoid a capital expenditure on purchasing a fax machine
  • Use the Executive Level membership at Costco to procure discounted business services such as online transaction fees and payroll services
  • Do networking "coffees" rather than lunches, chat over a $3 coffee and not a $20 lunch!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Strong Forecast for Contract and Flexible Workers

As the Business section reports daily on the latest gloom and doom economic news, I find myself searching - sometimes in vain- for bright spots or improvement on the horizon. Vicki Elmer reported in today's Washington Post on a CareerBuilder survey showing some bright spots for our readers: planned expansion in flexible work arrangements and only a slight decrease in contract workers across several industries.

Yes, this is obviously in response to managers reducing costs and lowering hiring risk in the face of the largest economic recession in nearly a century, but is there any good news here? I think so.
  • When smart employers want to reward and retain quality employees, but cannot afford bonuses or increases in salaries, they can offer non-monetary benefits like flexible schedules and telecommuting.
  • Contractual employment arrangements, which unfortunately don't come with the increasingly implortant (and expensive) health insurance, allow for flexibility you simply cannot find in the full-time world. Parents can work schedule flexibility into contracts and staff up during school terms and down in the summertime.

It's going to be a rocky ride, for sure, and the best thing we can do is to find and exploit the few bright spots in the economic outlook.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Mom Resolution #1: Get Organized

This being the time of year when resolutions are made I thought I'd take a moment to point out some very helpful tools for getting organized. I ran across a great new website,, that offers many tips, freebies and mom-specific organizational items for sale. It's run by three sisters, all mothers, at various stages of work and children.

One of the coolest things I found was the illness tracker. As the mother of 3, including identical twins, I'm constantly telling the pediatrician, "Will has had a fever for 2 days, wait, no Josh got a fever first.....was it Anderson?" I'd probably knock Dr. Thompson's socks off if I actually brought in hard data to help her make a diagnosis about the illness du jour.

Have a look at these products, let me know what you think. What are some of your other helpful organizational tips? What are your organizational goals for the New Year?