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Insights from practitioners in Information Management

Issue 46 – Taxing times

Welcome to this month’s edition of IEA’s registrant resources e-zine “Information Overload”. First of all we would like to thank those of you who came to our very first seminar on Electronic Document and Records Management Systems Seminar. It was wonderful to see so many of you at the event, and we hope you managed to do lots of networking during the three days. The feedback that we received has been fantastic, and we may be tempted to run another event at some point in the future. In which case, we hope it is something that you will find of interest and be able to join us. Remember that all costs associated with professional development can be claimed as part of your tax return, which is a double bonus.

Which brings me to the topic of this month’s edition of the Registrant Resources Edition of Information Overload. Money – in particular, the amount of tax that you pay and what you can do to ensure that you can earn more.

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In this issue we will look at:
• Tax
• What are you worth?
• What is your potential?
• A Thought to ponder

Tax
Have you recently re-joined IEA after a period with another employer? If you have you may like to remember that you will need to fill in the tax forms ASAP and send them back to us, otherwise we may not take the correct amount of tax from your salary as we should. 

Please note, this also applies to anyone who has recently changed positions, not just IEA.
For those of you who are working more than one job, you need to remember to obtain the tax-free threshold from the organisation with whom you are doing the most work, and likely to earn the most amount of money with throughout the year. Put simply, the “second” job will be taxed at a higher rate than the first, so it would make sense to ensure that you get the maximum benefit from the government that you can, otherwise you might be in for a nasty surprise when you get around to doing your tax return.

What are you worth?
In the May 2005 edition we asked you this seemingly simple question. It turns out it is not quite as simple to work out your hourly rate as you had at first thought. Rather than re-publish it in this edition, if you would like to know if you are undercharging for your services it is well worth visiting our web site – http://www.iea.com.au and having another look at the suggestions we gave you. 

So perhaps the question is not what are you currently worth, but what could you be worth in the future?

What is your potential?
The job market today is amazingly buoyant. There seems to be far more positions on offer than people to go around, and it doesn’t look like there will be any significant changes to that in the short-term.
Wonderful, I can hear you cry. That means I can have the pick of the jobs that I want and don’t have to worry about:

• Keeping up to date with my professional reading, I mean who has the time anyway?
• Keeping my skills up to date – the new employer will see my potential and give me any training that I need (assuming he or she has the time to train you of course!!);
• Putting together a decent application – if there are more jobs than people I am a guaranteed candidate.

How can I put this kindly – wrong, wrong, wrong on all counts!!!
Yes there may be more jobs on offer than available people – but the employer will wait for the right person to come along – if they have to, you know the candidate that has the right mix of skills and abilities – as well as the correct bits of paper. And you still need to meet and address all the Essential Selection Criteria in an application package to be considered for an interview, as well as most (if not all) the Desirable criteria too. So it may come as a bit of a shock to you, when you see how many incomplete, poorly written job applications that we receive. And these same people insist they have good written communication skills and a good eye for detail. Wrong again.

If you are in the market for a new position, it is still as important today as it ever was to ensure that you obtain the information or application package as outlined in the job advertisement. Do not rush your application, because it is in your best interests to ensure that you follow their instructions – exactly as they have laid them out. If they have asked you to complete the application on pink paper in green ink, then that is exactly what you should send in. OK, OK I know that is a little extreme and few (if any) employers are ever going to ask you to send in an application using that model, but you get my point.

But there is more to an application than just making sure your application looks pretty!!. The words that you use are essential too. I have said this many times, but it always worth repeating. If you cannot convince a potential employer that you are the candidate of choice – ON PAPER! Then you will not be asked to attend an interview.

One of the essential keys to a successful application is your commitment to your profession. Do you undertake continuing professional development? It doesn’t have to be in a formal capacity (although formal schemes are available in the information management fields), but you should be able to indicate that you are able to apply the latest research and skills throughout your previous employment history. Otherwise it will simply look like you have done the same job for x number of years. 

This doesn’t mean that you have to go on every course known to man or woman, but you should be able to indicate throughout your application that you have used and applied new technology, gained new skills and be adaptable to change. It is essential to show to the potential employer that you have the skills they need in order to solve their problems. That’s right, it isn’t about your needs, and how much extra money that you can earn. Or if the job fits in with the school term, or your husbands shift pattern. Whilst this may be true, an employer wants to know “What’s In It For Them!” We are all selfish beasts, and employers are no different, so it is vital that you show them that you have the right skills and abilities to solve their problems.
And you do this by giving examples. For every statement that you make you should give an example. For example:

Good Written and Verbal Communication Skills
As the marketing and projects office for Information Enterprises Australia I am responsible for most of the organisations written publications. (Statement).
Over the last four years I have re-written the organisations web site – http://www.iea.com.au, corporate profile, and am the current editor of the Australian Record Retention Manual. I am also the author of The First 4 Minutes: Understanding the Selection and Interview Process (now in its second edition) and Information Overload, a free monthly e-zine covering Records, Library, Information and Business Management Issues. I am also responsible for all direct marketing campaigns undertaken by the company. (Claim). 

My extensive use of the Internet to research topics, and my personal and professional reading has enabled me to cover many topics of interest to the Information Community. This can best be demonstrated with the range of topics covered in Information Overload, a newsletter I began back in September 2003 as a way of giving back to the Information Community within Australia as well as to the information community world wide, information of interest and use on topics such as Continuing Professional Development, Marketing of Library and Information Services and Electronic Document and Records Management Systems (EDRMS). Each newsletter is between 4 and 6 pages long with a few exceptions (namely the white paper on electronic archiving) and is a one newsletter one subject format. Copies of which can be downloaded from IEA’s web site – http://www.iea.com.au. (Example)
In addition to my written communication skills I deliver a number of training courses. (Claim)

Followed by an example…

By following this pattern you should be able to weave in to your application the knowledge that the potential employer has found their ideal candidate. You have shown by example what you are capable of, and in your application you have been able to demonstrate that you do indeed have “Good Written Communication Skills”. 

By showing potential employers that you have pursued career progression through CPD, and by taking on more challenging roles throughout your career you will be able to demonstrate that you are indeed worth more than you are currently being paid. And that is one of the keys to determining your potential.

The other major key to improving your chances and therefore your potential is by your commitment to personal and professional development. We have spoken at length about the importance of going to industry events, and networking so we won’t repeat that here. But what I would like to emphasise is this one very small but important factor to your personal mix.

You will earn more, by becoming more.

That means:
• Read widely, don’t just stick to those same topics and authors that you currently read;
• Read non-fiction as well as fiction, and encourage your children (if you have any) to do the same. Sometimes the answer to a particular problem won’t be found in the textbooks related to your own profession, but to those of someone else’s.
• Talk to lots of people, find out what issues are concerning them, be prepared to listen as well as speak – and by doing so, you will be way ahead of the 90% of the rest of the population;
• Remember that the information community is a very small and incestuous beast – so do not bag your previous employers, work colleagues or anyone else for that matter. Not only is it bad karma – but, it will come back to bite you. Be known for the positives rather than the negatives. Again you will be way ahead of most of the rest of the profession!! and finally
• Do something different every single day. That could be – travelling to work a different way, eating new foods, speaking to someone you have never spoken to before, wearing a different colour shirt, smiling instead of frowning. As a matter of interest, I was in Perth over the weekend, and a friend and I tried to spot the happy people…it turned out that we seemed to be the only ones with a smile on our faces. Yet you would think that with the beautiful weather we were having, a chance to spend some hard-earned money, more people would be enjoying the experience. But apparently not. Here is a simple, but effective way to check to see if you are relaxed and therefore likely to be enjoying whatever it is you are doing at the moment. Place a thumb on the spot between and just above your eyebrows (third eye) if you are anything like me your brow will be crinkled, frowning in concentration….so take a moment and relax – you will be quite surprised at the difference it makes.

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A Thought to Ponder
“We rely upon the poets, the philosophers, and the playwrights to articulate what most of us can only feel, in joy or sorrow. They illuminate the thoughts for which we only grope; they give us the strength and balm we cannot find in ourselves. Whenever I feel my courage wavering I rush to them. They give me the wisdom of acceptance, the will and the resilience to push on.”
Helen Hayes (1900-1993)
American Actress
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