Tuesday, December 22, 2009


After a relatively slow August, typical in any market but particularly slow in this hiring environment, things really picked up in September. Our phones were ringing off the hook and my InBox was piling up for requests for, of all things, proposal writers! What was going on?

Anyone familiar with the budget cycles in Washington, D.C. knows that U.S. Federal Government Fiscal Year ends September 30th and that most contracts work on that schedule. With a new President and the economic stimulus package moving, Federal contracting work was building. But in order to GET any of that money firms must first write a proposal, and proposal writers were in high demand.

A small consulting practice client came to us and needed not only a top proposal writer, but someone who was available that week, and for a rate below what the now in-demand Washington, D.C. proposal writers were charging. That's when creative outsourcing came into play. We outsourced this client's proposal writing and management to.....Michigan?

That's right, one of our top proposal writers lives in the state now made famous by the highest unemployment rate in the nation. With the unfortunate timing of returning to work from a child-rearing break in The Great Recession, our writer was anxious for work and was willing to be creative with location. Using technology, superb communication skills and even her own use-or-lose frequent flier miles to voluntarily fly in for the kick-off meeting, our resource solved a huge staffing problem for our client, helping them to win a key piece of stimulus-funded business.
  • Business Value: Client got a highly qualified, in-demand resource within a week that fit their budget and solved a major business problem.
  • Candidate Value: By being flexible and creative, our candidate got the all-important first back-to-work job and an extremely valuable resume bullet for an in-demand area of expertise.

Monday, December 14, 2009


As a manager, is there ever a task that you know you need to get done but can't carve out even a couple of hours per week for it? Even if we are in a protracted recession and that activity directly relates to revenue? This was the situation one of our clients, Zavda Technologies, was in. A high growth, 8a, service disabled veteran and women-owned firm, they were in the situation a lot of government contractors find themselves in: too busy delivering on work to go after and manage the ongoing proposal process.

Their CEO, Dr. Stacy Trammell, came to us looking for a resource, a real contracting guru, who could help them scour multiple federal contracting websites, qualify the right opportunities for Zavda and manage the contracting process. For Stacy, there simply weren't enough hours in the day to get this essential task done and anytime devoted to developing business came directly from billable hours, taking away much-needed revenue.

Momentum Resources found Zavda Technologies the perfect resource: a former Navy contracting officer transitioning back to work after her second child was born. This resource, the guru that Zavda needed on staff but didn't have a need or budget for full-time, works remotely a few hours a week putting her subject matter expertise to work helping Zavda find, qualify and bid on Federal contracts.
  • Business Value: A small firm gets the subject matter expertise it needs to grow without the commitment or cost of a full-time resource
  • Candidate Value: A professional mom finds the right work for her, several hours a week working from home, keeping her career going and contributing to the family income.
Bonus Value: This was such a perfect arrangement for both parties that the candidate had baby #3 on a Friday and was back to work, from home and for just a couple of hours, the very next week! Our first DC area Momentum Resources baby, a mini-Momentum, was born!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Making Momentum: INSOURCING

As promised, we're kicking off our series on some of Momentum Resources' successes this year by talking about something that doesn't happen often in a recession: insourcing.

Last year, an energetic director of a Washington, DC based trade association came to us after reading a segment about us in the Washington Post and said, "my Executive Board is challenging me to lower my variable overhead costs by 30% and I need some help." She wasn't alone, non-profits across the country have been hit particularly hard in this economic downturn.

Together we looked at her overhead costs and determined that she was spending an exorbitant amount of money for a large public accounting firm to do simple general ledger entries and payroll for 5 employees. We brought the Executive Director a Momentum Resources candidate, a seasoned financial manager in the non-profit world, to perform the same duties at a 45% cost reduction. Take that, Executive Board! Not only that, but our resource was going to be a permanent fixture in their organization (not the big firm's CPA du jour) and thus committed to their mission. After only 6 months there, the Executive Director charged our resource with leading the annual budget cycle planning process and even federal financial reporting.

But that's only half the story. As I mentioned, our candidate is an experienced professional in the arts management field- an area that had dried up to nothing during the recession. With a dream of launching her own children's theater company, she needed some steady part-time work to pay the bills. She leveraged her financial management and bookkeeping skills in a different type of nonprofit environment, and is able to earn enough to keep the lights on at home and begin the nest egg for her start up, all by working just 5 or 6 hours per week.
  • Business Value: Client gets a top-notch resource at a 45% cost reduction who is committed to the organization and can do more than what was originally budgeted for.
  • Candidate Value: Candidate translates her in-demand skills to a slightly different industry and earns fair market value rates for her work, allowing her to pursue her dream endeavor.

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Series: Making Momentum

As I take a look back over the very exciting ride that 2009 has been I notice a trend in our placements; they are creative employment solutions that fit the needs of both our candidates and our clients. Here at Momentum Resources our process is a fairly unique; sometimes we start with a great candidate and try to find her (or him!) the right professional opportunity that works with her life. Other times we start with a super-smart firm that knows it can solve a hiring, budget, scheduling problem by looking to one of our candidates. Our magic is in making the right match.

And we're seeing this work every day! And by reading these mini-case studies, we hope that you might see a way for us to help you make your professional and personal lives fit together, or that there's a hiring scenario that might work for your firm. So read up, share and let the creative sparks fly!

Friday, December 4, 2009

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

As I sit down to make my lists and check them twice (and sneak out during the workday today to do a little shopping and have lunch with a girlfriend) I am thinking about all of the amazing things that help me live the (mostly) balanced life I live. The tools that allow me to be in two places at once, work at 5 am (when I'm typing this post) and from any location. These tools and the flexibility they provide allow me to put my kids on and off the school bus every day and for my toddler and I to bike to preschool together and "do lunch" at least 3 times per week.
Here are some of my favorites:
  • Laptop. It seems like ages ago when workers were trapped to a desk with a computer and an internet connection. My laptop allows me to work from my home office, the breakfast bar in my kitchen during the day, my favorite local coffee shop, client sites and remote locations, including the nine road trips my kids and I took this past summer.
  • iPhone. This device has literally changed my life. A single palm-held device allows me to answer forwarded office calls while I'm listening to tunes on a midday gym break, reply to emails in the carpool lot, take photos of the amazing things my children do everyday, review important work documents stored on GoogleDocs when I'm out on interviews and a million other productive and distracting applications. This is the ultimate be-in-two-places-at-once device.
  • Notebook. I'm a big fan of the right size (not too big, not too small) and simple cute designs of Carolina Pad. I have one of these going at all times, in my purse and by handy laptop. I jot meeting and interview notes, my nightly to do list for the next day and all of the brilliant ideas that pop into my head as I jog, shower and sleep.
  • Portable Scanner. Gone are the days of a desk-clogging, tethered photo scanner for my daily business use. I got the Pentax DS Mobile 600 last month and it makes scanning receipts, documents for internet faxing and even low resolution photos a breeze. It's tiny, light, fits into a small bag in your tote bag and is powered by a USB cable to your laptop.
And these are some of the things on my wish list this year (Santa, take note, I've been awfully good this year!)
  • MacBook Pro. After nearly two decades as a solid PC user I think I'm ready to take the plunge. All of the smug Mac users out there (including my husband) have convinced me that this is the ultimate productivity enhancing, user friendly machine. 2010 is going to be a huge year for Momentum Resources and I don't have time for the twice daily laptop shutdowns that are occurring now.
  • iPhone3GS. I don't need a new iPhone, mine works just fine. But this is one is even more amazing than it's predecessor (get video testimonials for our website? photo zoom of my sweet boys? Twice as fast? Voice Control? Are you serious??)
  • Cole Haan Nike Air Black Pumps. I'm 5ft. 0," and by all accounts I should be in heels every day that I am sporting professional attire. But because my daily routine usually includes at least one sprint down the block to the bus stop, climbing a broken metro escalator and wrestling a 2-year old that doesn't want to leave the babysitter's house to come home from nap, that's just not possible. I've been waiting for a splurge opportunity to see what a tennis-shoe-on-the-inside and high-heel-on-the-outside shoe can do for me.
What tools do you find indispensable every day? What's on your wish list?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Reasonable (and Creative!) Accommodations

As Congress considers H.R.1902, better known as the Healthy Families Act (requiring most companies to provide 7 days of paid sick leave to their employees) I've been thinking a lot about what managers and employers can do to provide a healthy environment; solutions that are creative, reasonable and (mostly) free.

Although this bill (and a similar one introduced by the late Senator Ted Kennedy) came to light when President Obama declared the spread of the H1N1 virus a National Emergency, this issue is as old as the dawn of working motherhood. This week Petula Dvorak detailed many heartbreaking stories of women choosing between sending a sick kid to school and the fear of losing a job in a tough job market.

I have to admit that twice I sent my kids to daycare with a dose of motrin to make a huge meeting when I thought my job was on the line, knowing I'd get a call from the Director when the "motrin rebound" wore off 6 hours later and a fever reemerged. I obviously don't believe that I put my children's health in danger but in that moment I truly believed my job was.

And the reality is that children get sick. A lot. And most daycares and schools require a child to be fever/vomit/diarrhea for 24-48 before they can return and you can return to work. When my twins were younger they invariably got the same illness, usually 2 days apart, meaning that with each illness I was often out for a week. A career trajectory killer in a good market, that puts you right on the line for layoffs when companies are making cuts.

And although I personally would have benefited from paid sick leave, in running a small business I certainly empathize with cash-strapped, recession-beating small business owners that can't make it work. I also recognize that if employers start to get creative, with a little planning and making reasonable accommodations, there are many options between coming in sick (or sending a child to school sick) and staying home.
  • Telecommuting. This is an obvious one for most professionals. Most folks have computers and internet access at home, take advantage of it. Employers can facilitate this by making applications web-based, storing documents online, and providing a laptop that can be used by a pool of employees if someone does not own a computer at home; disinfecting with a Clorox wipe between uses, of course! That $400 hardware outlay will have a positive ROI the first time someone uses it at home rather than infecting your entire office with the stomach flu, wiping out many productive work hours in one fell swoop.
  • Prepare Back Up Work. Think only sales professionals and analysts can work from home? Think again. Most workers have mandatory required training every year, from OSHA safety training for warehouse workers to timecard training for nurses to employment discrimination courses for line managers; most of these courses are online. When a worker must call in sick, for himself or for his child, suggest he use those hours to complete mandatory training that he'd otherwise do on the clock.
  • Split Shifts. Be flexible around core business hours for when your employees come in. Taking into account that this doesn't always work in certain fields like, ironically, medicine, allow employees to come in very early or late so that they can split caregiving with someone else. When the twins went through a few "dark winters" of persistent illnesses, I would often go in and work 6am-12pm, taking only 2 hours of sick leave, and my husband would work 1pm-8pm, taking a sick leave hour on his end. We were still able to be present, help our team members, provide our bosses updates and maintain a client facing position and our little ones didn't spread strep throat to their classes.
  • Weekend Access. Again, I realize this is limited to certain work environments but allowing employers to come in and work a day or two on the weekend (and let's face it, many employees are already doing this in our current layoff environment, often doing the work of two employees and anxious to show an elevated commitment level) to "make up" for a sick day during the week. Again, this costs nothing and prevents a pinkeye-exposed employee from sending a highly contagious itchy eyed child to school and maintains your company's productivity.
  • Lead by Example. As a manager, you lead a team, show some leadership. I realize that your job is also on the line, but if you are responsible for your team or division's P&L you know that the potential lost productivity from a day or two's work out of one worker is nothing compared to wiping out an entire office with a highly contagious disease like H1N1 that is sending 30- and 40-somethings in droves to hospitals with pneumonia and other illnesses that could keep them out for work for up to two weeks. In an economy that's hanging on by it's fingernails, you just can't afford that.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Facing Your Fears and the 3 Rs

Press is good for us, very good. Every time one of us gets a major press piece the phone starts ringing with great new potential clients and super-smart candidates looking for more flexible jobs. We've done print, glossies, TV, but last night I got the opportunity to do my first live TV segment on News Channel 8's Washington Business Tonight. I was terrified.

But realizing the potential upside for our little company I took a deep breath and lunged forward with three key steps:
  1. Recline: Although I had a giant pile of post-Thanksgiving holiday to dos and calls and emails to return, I took an hour out of my busy morning to hit my favorite yoga class to be, or at least appear, a little less frazzled.
  2. Research: I took my time reviewing national and local statistics as well as anecdotal and quantitative evidence from our own success stories, highlighting the main trends and keys to success.
  3. Resources: This being an entirely new medium, I reached out to friends who worked in television for a few last-minute tips. I compared talking points with my partners, heck, I even had my 7 year old quiz me on the agreed-upon (but oddly, not asked) interview questions.
All told, the interview went as well as possible, even when the host was switched out at the last minute and the questions went off-script. Next time I have a big fear to face, I'm coming back to the 3 Rs.