As Christmas and New Year edges ever nearer, so too does the final deadline for filing your self-assessment.
This can bring stress, worry and financial penalties if you file late, contributing even further to those January blues. Conversely, should you give your return the appropriate time and attention, the next couple of months can be relatively stress free on the tax front.
Now, just to warn you, the deadline for paper returns has already passed. There’s no need to fret just yet though, as an online tax return can still be submitted right up till midnight of January 31st. That’s just less than two months then, so plenty of time to get your financial affairs in order.
Should you miss that though, the HMRC are likely to unleash their wrath, the disorganised contractor potentially liable to a multitude of fines. Making matters even more complex, the HMRC recently altered the way in which they administer tax penalties. So, even if you thought you were up speed with their legislative powers, you may well not be.
To the uninitiated the differences between contracting as sole trader or a limited company can be hard to determine, both with regards to the respective benefits and disadvantages each can bring. It can be a complex thing to get your head around, even more so judging when the right time may be to start contracting as an ltd. So, to help you out, here’s a brief overview of the respective drawbacks and benefits involved in limited company formation…
A term you’ll often hear bandied about in association with limited company formation is limited liability. This essentially means that if you’re company goes bust, your personal belongings won’t be touched. The maximum losses can only be equal to your investment. If you engage in any illegal activities this can be reneged though…so keep the right side of the law!
One of the most painstaking, scrupulous but annoyingly integral parts of entering the professional world is the dreaded Curriculum Vitae. The simple task of listing ones pro’s, experiences and interests is for some unknown reason one of the hardest possible rigmaroles in existence. It is easy however when racking your brains trying to remember when it was you once worked at that place you can’t remember the name of, to make the odd mistake (or two). Here is a list of the top 5 CV blunders…
Strange cliché sayings
This may sound odd, but more often than not when writing their CV, people opt into using rather bizarre mottos in an attempt to woo their potential new bosses. A real life example of this would be this quite frankly worrying approach to life given in a recent CV. “I am a wedge with a sponge taped to it. My purpose is to wedge myself into someone’s door to absorb as much as possible.” Now I dread to imagine the psyche of the person writing this CV, but it nevertheless qualifies in the top 5 CV blunders.
Again, this may sound very obvious to most, but time and time again budding new employees forget to fill in their CV altogether, let alone read it back afterwards. A woman quite unwisely sent her résumé and cover letter to a company without deleting someone else’s editing, including such comments as “I don’t think you want to say this about yourself here” and “Tell them something about the theatre.” It may seem eccentric to you, but perhaps you might want to re-read your CV next time you send it into the clutches of an unknown business.
Irrelevance is a very common CV blunder, and is something that is far easier to do than you might think. An example of plain irrelevance within a CV would be putting under “job related skills” for an IT Contractor for example “can function without additional oxygen at 24,000 feet”. Now this is a real mistake that occurs far too often. Remember, what may sound inspiring and impressive to you is probably either inappropriate or simply worthless.
Link to Personal Email
This is a CV error that occurs very frequently, and is something that can lead to not only being discarded altogether, but sheer embarrassment during interviews (believe me). More often than not people include their personal email addresses on the end of their CV, but some fail to consider how unsuitable their ‘addy’ may be, no matter how charming. Basically, if you are looking for a job in business insurance, don’t list your email address as “pornstar69@****.com”.
Hobbies & Interests
The ‘tell us about yourself’ or ‘Hobbies and Interests’ sections of a CV are a battleground for the weird and wonderful. People here either tend to lie (nobody who reads 5 books a week then has the time to spend a weekend watching foreign films and charcoal painting) or are far too honest (although you think heavy drinking and street fighting is a blast, others may not). Others however tend to take a far vaguer, widespread approach. The last CV blunder on the list is this recent insight into the life of this promising employee. Under Hobbies & Interests, he put, “Having a good time.”
Source : http://www.contractorweekly.com/contractor-news/business-news/543-the-top-5-cv-blunders#
If you’ve been out of the workforce for sometime, getting your foot back in the door isn’t impossible; it just may take a little work. As technology evolves and improves regardless of the career field, chances it is probable there were some technological advances since your last career. However, you have age, wisdom, and real-time experience in your court, so to speak, over college graduates still wet behind the ears.
If you haven’t kept in touch with your old contacts in some time, reintroduce yourself into the professional world. Advice from former colleagues and associates could help you learn about the best companies to work for, which ones are hiring or have the best opportunities. This can help you be successful and knowledgeable about your opportunities to help make an informed decision.
A Valuable Resource in Company Website
When looking to rejoin the workforce research each company’s site that you plan to apply to. A company’s website may provide valuable insight into a new potential employer, what type of work they specialize in, current and past contracts, benefits, and community involvement. Some list upcoming job fairs and other activities where you may be able to personally meet and network with team members of that company.
Take Advantage of Job Boards
Many companies include an active list of all their available jobs. The ease of online job searches including live streaming job boards offer opportunities to find openings you may not have found otherwise. Companies such as DynCorp International , KBR , All States Technical Services, and Simply Hired are all examples of online sites which list employment opportunities. In some cases you must create an account to be privy to their job listings. Each is very user-friendly and some even allow you to chat with a live help desk if you have any questions!
Use Online Research to Write Cover Letters
When applying for specific jobs you want to ensure your resume and cover letter stick out since large companies today receive thousands of applicants per opening. Find the trade publications relevant to the industry and seek out recent articles about that company. This will give you some third party insight that differs from the information provided on the company’s own website. For example, if you are applying for an opening in The Coca-Cola Company’s marketing department, you could read up on their Fuze marketing campaign in Advertising Age. If you want to pursue a job in the government market , Washington Technology keeps track of newly obtained contracts, reorganizations, and new hires for the big players. If you want to re-enter the medical field, poke around the New England Journal of Medicine or other journals so that you can site recent studies or news.
Persistence is Key
Rejoining the workforce can be difficult; especially if you have been out of it for years. But be politely persistent and use all available resources to your advantage. Be flexible with your work schedule, and if you can, your location if starting your new perfect career means relocating. A new career won’t happen overnight, but keep an open mind. Apply to as many jobs as possible to get a better return on responses. And remember, it only takes one!
Contract workers seem set to receive more job offers from small and medium-sized firms after such enterprises were told they are sitting on £2billion in savings by not using the self-employed for their labour needs.
Uncovering the annual saving, derived from differing national insurance liabilities for staff and self-employed contractors, advice portal Unbiased said the UK’s SMEs were neglecting to take advantage of lower tax payments.
But the website issued a cautionary note – SME owners must be clear on the associated rules, notably IR35, to avoid the risk of engaging ‘disguised employees’ and, in turn, being accused of tax avoidance by HM Revenue & Customs.
‘Disguised employees’ are those leaving an employer to become self-employed while effectively continuing to be employed on a more or less full-time basis by that outfit, for the sole purpose of reducing the employer’s tax liabilities, Unbiased said.
“By utilising self-employed workers better, SMEs could be saving tax payments”, said the portal’s chief executive Karen Barrett, addressing the employers.
But as “tax can be a bit of a minefield, a professional adviser can help you to understand your business’s tax liabilities, make sure you are using any tax breaks available to you and make sure you are not crossing the line into tax [avoidance].”
Her comments come after the Regus 2011 Business Confidence Index found that about one-third of employers plan to hire contractors in 2012, with smaller employers (50 staff or less) more likely to recruit the self-employed than their larger counterparts.
In fact, the index shows that 42 per cent of small employers intend to take on the self-employed in the 12 months from October 2011, compared with 29 per cent of larger enterprises (those having more than 250 staff on the payroll).
The latest figures from The Office of National Statistics have shown that unemployment in the UK has fallen by 65,000 from the last three months leading up to May 2012. This now sets the figure down to 2.85 million. This means that around 29.35 million are now in employment, including many in temporary and contract jobs…..
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Got an interview, don’t know what to wear? Think sector and industry whilst planning the perfect interview outfit for that dream contract job.
Rule 1. Suits are great, but being boring is not.
Many people would be forgiven for thinking that wearing a suit is a fail safe way of dressing to impress during an interview, and in many circumstances, they may be right. But there is no use turning up in a boring suit if you are applying to be an art director or another role that expects you to be individual and creative. Try and make some variations to normal work wear and be sure to inject some personality into your outfit.
Rule 2. Do not distract your interviewer
It’s the 21st century, and of course everyone can wear what they want. But during an interview, it is always wise to be tactful. Ladies, (and gentlemen of course), resist showing too much flesh. Showing too much skin runs the risk of your employer remembering your outfit (or lack of) after the interview instead of your skill sets. Furthermore, while injecting some personality into your outfit is a good idea, you also need to realise when enough is enough. Feather bowers, large hats and PVC amongst other novelty items are certainly crossing the acceptable boundaries!
Rule 3. Take your coat off
Sounds like a weird one, but if you wear a coat to your interview, take it off before the questions commence. Even better, ask where you can put your jacket if you are unsure. This not only shows confidence and assertiveness, but also stops you running the risk of burning up during the interview! Nervous sweats are quite enough!
Freelance professionals need to take charge of their cash flow. It is surprising how just one late payment can make such an impact on a contractor’s finances. Dealing with late payments can be the one of the down sides of working contract jobs and freelance projects. But there are small steps contractors can make to make the process less cringe worthy.
First and foremost, do not feel guilty for bringing a late payment into the spotlight. Even if the client or employer is a major brand or well-known company, this doesn’t mean they don’t understand that late payments are not good business practice. You are perfectly within your rights to remind clients of their late payment and furthermore, to take further action if they still fail to pay.
However, it is no use moaning about late payments if you didn’t initially set out a clear agreement or payment policy to the client in question. This could simply be sending an email confirmation stating the amount to be paid and when it should be paid. If you are comfortable with the process of invoicing, this may well be an extra security blanket for your finances.
This will also give you some back up if a client decides to haggle after the prices have been set, which unfortunately is a regular occurrence, even from the big names in business.
Although you do have the right to ask for your bill to be paid, it is also worth taking into account the size of the company. Larger companies usually have the most hectic admin offices, making it very likely that your invoice or confirmation has been lost. So don’t instantly assume that a client is avoiding paying on purpose.
An error last Tuesday night left many RBS customers without the ability to draw out money and make transactions, with many having no relief over the weekend. Although every bank has experienced faults in the past, Natwest have come under particular scrutiny due to its fairly recent cut backs of UK jobs and the company’s uptake of outsourcing in India.
Although RBS have strongly denied that the company’s decision to outsource in India has anything to do with the mammoth problem experienced last week, many disagree and state that the mishap further highlights the need for Banks to remain loyal to UK workers.
Bank staff union Unite has questioned Natwest’s methods of excessive off-shoring have had a negative impact upon the company, considering that reports state that the computing programme that caused the problem was run by RBS’ offices in India.
Stephen Hester, chief executive of RBS stated during the technical difficulties: “Right now my top priority, and the priority of the entire RBS Group, is to fix these problems and put things right for our customers…This is taking time, but I want to reassure people that we are working around the clock to resolve these problems as quickly as we are able.”
Overseas IT contract jobs may further be questioned following RBS’ blunder last week, perhaps provoking banks to reconsider their cost cutting methods.
Over the last two decades, the number of employees working past the state pension age has doubled according to the Office for National Statistics. More specifically, 1.4 million people in the UK are now in employment and over the instated state pension age.
This is a whopping 85 per cent more than was seen in 1993. So what is provoking the UK’s 70s and over to not kick back and relax? The ONS have contributed this to many factors, including the improved health, financial woes and longer life expectancy among the general population.
Furthermore, the phasing out of the default retirement age in 2011 may have also played a part in the rise of older workers. Before April 2011, employed could actively enforce retirement on workers aged 65.
According to research made by SAGA, there are more people ages 65 and over working due to poor pension schemes.
Director general of Saga Ros Altmann, said: “Many older people are increasingly choosing to stay at work, often part-time so that they ease more gently into retirement. If they feel fit and healthy and want more money, and are able to work, they are choosing to do so.”