Thoughts, Ideas, and Concepts by Sandra Parks

Posts tagged ‘employers’

Hump Day Fallacies!!!

Job Search

The concept of “hump day” has had a long history – too long, in fact. 

For many years employees and managers alike have talked about the importance of getting through hump day (aka Wednesday) and making it to the weekend. Unfortunately, hump day is a career killer. 

Hump-day employees look at every week as the process of starting at the bottom of the hill on Monday morning at 8 a.m., climbing to the top by Wednesday at noon, and then coasting down to the bottom of the hill by 5 o’clock on Friday. These people haven’t gotten anywhere during the course of the week. They are back where they started on Monday morning, week after week after week. 

Imagine a college athlete who performs exactly the same way at the beginning of every season. Those kinds of players never get off the bench, assuming they can even keep their spot on the bench. Intuitively, we know we must continually improve if we want to take our careers to the next level. With a hump-day approach to the workweek, we sabotage productivity and psychologically set ourselves up for a mediocre week and a mediocre career. 

Study Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey and a host of other great achievers. They didn’t push forward for 52 working hours and then slump backward for another 52. They raised their bar of achievement, and then set the bar higher again and again. 

Instead of working for the weekend, try filling out a “Leap-Day Worksheet” at noon Wednesday. (Maximum time investment: 35 minutes.)

1.      Make a list of the meetings/activities /events that have occurred so far this week.

2.      For each entry in Step One, answer these five questions in less than five minutes:
a.       What did I do that was effective? 

b.      What did I do that was not effective? 

c.       What could I have done to be more effective? 

d.      What did I learn from this experience? 

e.       How can I use what I learned to perform at a higher level for the remainder of this week? 

From now on, make Wednesday at noon your weekly inflection point to capture key lessons and catapult to a higher level of performance over the remainder of the week. After all, the greatest performers in history didn’t rise briefly and then fall backward. They leapt forward to higher and higher levels of achievement, and hit repeat.

Why Not Brand Yourself!

Personal Branding

Job seekers think they need to be salesman, never storytellers. Nevertheless, storytelling is part of every job search. How well you tell your story in cover letters, resumes, networking meetings, interviews — even negotiations — will directly affect your success in the job market.

Storytelling doesn’t mean telling tall tales! It’s amazing how many people ask for help with their resumes by saying, “I’ve got to find a way to make this look better than it really is.” Exaggerating accomplishments and misrepresenting facts is never an acceptable approach. Nor is it necessary. Instead, when people take the time to remember the actual details, a more compelling and truthful story almost always emerges.

The problem is that people don’t naturally think about telling their story.

Your challenge is to find a way to describe your involvement so potential employers clearly see the before and after. In other words, how did you make a situation better because you were there?

You can’t get there simply by rattling off a list of accomplishments; by themselves, accomplishments rarely tell the story. Knowing how much time you saved or how much money you made for the company is of limited use if it isn’t presented in context. To appreciate the importance of your work, the scope of what you did must be clear. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • What problem were you solving?
  • How long had it been a problem?
  • How many people were affected by the issue?
  • What was the cost of not solving the problem? (e.g., lost revenue, frustrated customers, low morale)
  • What, specifically, did you do to address the issue?
  • How did you get involved?
    • Were you asked to address the issue? If so, by whom?
    • Or was your involvement the result of your own initiative?
  • Did solving the problem require an investment of time, money or resources by the company?
    • Were you the person who convinced management to invest in the solution?
    • If so, how did you sell them on the idea?
  • How long did it take to solve the problem?
  • Were there any unexpected results?

Good stories surprise you

Once you have answered these questions, be sure to include the most surprising and memorable details when you tell the stories behind your accomplishments. This is the key to being remembered at the right time for the right reason.

Sadly, few people manage to include these crucial details.

Rather than tell memorable stories that might get people interested in their backgrounds, they rattle off job titles, responsibilities and other unrevealing aspects of their past.

For example, I vividly remember “Eric” (not his real name), a client who had a long-winded, fluffy summary statement that could literally apply to anyone. In it, Eric described himself as an “innovative problem solver.” Unfortunately, this was not supported anywhere in his resume or cover letter. Nor did he spontaneously offer any examples during the course of our mock interview.

Only when I probed extensively did Eric reveal a fantastic example to support his claim:

In his most recent position, Eric worked at a data center that handled transactions for financial institutions. At the time, the company was actively acquiring other data centers. Eric’s job was to help merge the operations of the various data centers the company acquired.

Throughout the process, Eric’s company relied on several highly paid consultants from a well-known firm to evaluate the acquisitions and make recommendations regarding the best ways to merge the technologies. In one case, the consultants concluded that the technology of a recently acquired company was incompatible with the firm’s operations and recommended running the data center separately. Eric didn’t accept that as an answer. Instead, he spent the next month researching and examining alternatives on his own, outside regular working hours.

Being quite resourceful, Eric networked his way to a person overseas who had successfully solved a similar challenge. By taking the time to learn how the other person solved the problem, Eric devised a way to implement a workable solution. Within a few weeks, Eric successfully converted the new data center to the company’s technology.

This is a great example of innovative problem-solving. It wasn’t one Eric had ever thought to share on his resume, in interviews or in any of his networking efforts. Nevertheless, it remains among his most memorable and compelling experiences. That’s the goal of storytelling. You want people to think of you and make the connection between what you have done and what they might need you to do. Potential employers and networking contacts should look at you and think:

“I remember her! She’s the person who _________.”
(Fill in the blank with whatever experience powerfully demonstrates your ability to excel in a particular area.)

QUARTERLY FILING

Generally, you will file Form 941 (PDF), Employer’s QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return, or Form 944, Employer’s ANNUAL Federal Tax Return, to report wages you have paid, tips your employees have reported to you, federal income tax withheld, social security and Medicare taxes withheld, your share of social security and Medicare taxes, and advance earned income credit payments. Form 944 may be filed only by small business employers who have been notified to file that form. To report wages and taxes for farm employees, you will file Form 943, Employer’s Annual Tax Return for Agricultural Employees.

A separate Form 941 is filed for each quarter. The first quarter is January through March. The second quarter is April through June. The third quarter is July through September. The fourth quarter is October through December. Form 941 is due by the last day of the month following the end of the quarter. For example, wages you pay during the first quarter, January through March, must generally be reported on Form 941 by April 30th.

If the due date for filing a return falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, you may file the return on the next business day.

Beginning with returns for calendar year 2006, some employers with small payrolls, including government employers, have filed an annual return Form 944, Employer’s ANNUAL Employment Tax Return, instead of Form 941 each quarter. Form 944 generally is due on January 31st of the following year (e.g., January 31, 2009 for the 2008 tax year). The purpose of Form 944 is to reduce burden on small business taxpayers by allowing certain employers to file one employment tax return per year to report social security, Medicare, and withheld federal income taxes, and in most cases pay the employment tax with the return. Form 944 is designed for employers with an annual liability of $1,000 or less for social security, Medicare, and withheld federal income taxes.

If you qualify for Form 944, you will be notified by the IRS. Employers cannot file Form 944 unless they are notified by the IRS that they qualify to file this form. Beginning in 2009, the IRS will only send eligibility to file Form 944 upon request by the qualified employer and in 2010 filing of Form 944 will be voluntary. For further information, see the Instructions for Form 944 and/or Form 941.

Employers notified to file Form 944 whose businesses grow during the year and exceed the $1,000 eligibility threshold should still file Form 944 for the year. Employers who exceed the eligibility threshold will be notified by the IRS that their filing requirement has been changed to Form 941 for a particular year.

Some employers are required to deposit their employment taxes before the Form 941 and Form 944 are filed. For the rules for making deposits, refer to Topic 757. If you have deposited all your tax on time, you have ten additional days to file.

The total social security and Medicare taxes on Form 941 and Form 944 may differ by a small amount from the total on your payroll records due to fractions of cents that you gained or lost when computing separate amounts for individual employees. You may add or subtract this difference on the line for tax adjustments. Generally, this should not be more than a few cents. You may also use this adjustment line to correct the social security and Medicare taxes you were unable to collect on employees’ tips, or for sick pay wages you report but for which social security and Medicare taxes were withheld by a third party, such as an insurance company. If you wish to correct an error on a previously filed Form 941 or Form 944, you will use Form 941X (PDF), Adjusted Employer’s QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund, or Form 944X (PDF), Adjusted Employer’s ANNUAL Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund, respectively. These forms will be used to make adjustments to previously filed Forms 941 or Forms 944 and to claim refunds of overpaid employment taxes. You will not attach Form 941X to Form 941 or attach Form 944X to Form 944. Forms 941X and 944X must be filed separately. Form 941c will no longer be used. For more information, see Publication 15, (Circular E), Employer’s Tax Guide, Section 13.

The federal income tax withheld and social security and Medicare taxes are added together on Form 941 and Form 944. If you made advance earned income credit payments to employees during the quarter, these payments are subtracted from your total taxes. Refer to Topic 754 for more information on the advance earned income credit.

The resulting net tax is the amount of employment taxes you owe for the quarter (Form 941) or the year (Form 944). If this amount is $2,500 or more, complete the Tax liability for each month in Part 2 of Form 941 and Form 944, if you are a monthly schedule depositor. If you file Form 941 and are a semiweekly depositor, then report your tax liability on Form 941, Schedule B (PDF), Report of Tax Liability for Semiweekly Schedule Depositors. If you file Form 944 and are a semiweekly depositor, then report your tax liability on Form 945-A, Annual Record of Federal Tax Liability. The purpose of Part 2 of Form 941, Part 2 of Form 944, Schedule B (Form 941), and Form 945-A is to show the IRS when you paid your employees and the liability for that pay. IRS uses this information to determine if you deposited your employment taxes on time.

For monthly depositors you must show the combined amount of social security, Medicare, and withheld federal income tax owed for each month in Part 2 of Form 941 or Part 2 of Form 944. For semiweekly depositors, you must show the combined amount of social security, Medicare, and withheld federal income tax owed for each day on Schedule B (Form 941) or Form 945–A. Your liability for employment taxes occurs when you actually pay the employees their wages, not when the pay period ends. For example, if your pay period ends September 24th, but you do not pay the employees until October 1st, their wages would be reported in the fourth quarter, when you actually became liable for the tax, not the third quarter when the pay period ended.

It is very important that you complete Part 2 of Form 941 and Form 944, Schedule B of Form 941, or Form 945-A correctly, or it may appear that you did not deposit your taxes when due. There is a late deposit penalty ranging from 2% to 15%, depending on the length of time the deposit is late.

Generally, if your tax liability for the quarter is $2,500 or more and you have made the proper deposits, you should not have a balance due with Form 941 and Form 944. Generally, only taxpayers with a tax liability of less than $2,500 may pay with the tax return. If you pay taxes with your tax return that should have been deposited, you may be subject to a penalty. Be sure Form 941 and Form 944 is signed and dated before mailing it to your service center.

You may find Publication 15, (Circular E), Employer’s Tax Guide, helpful. It explains all the deposit rules and filing requirements for Form 941 and Form 944.

SAP Taxes, Sandra Parks, 972.569.7938

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