Monthly Archives: March 2015

Questions to Avoid at Interviews…Who Gets Raises … Job Search Apps

Questions NOT to Ask at Interviews

shutterstock_151958963At the end of an interview, job candidates should have questions to pose to a future employer. However, here are a few categories of queries that should not make that list.

Questions with obvious answers. If you ask the interviewer to tell you about the company or about the job description, it just shows you haven’t done your homework.

Questions about salary, benefits, or upward movement. Slow down! These answers will come eventually, but from the interviewer. If you push, you send up a red flag that you are looking at the position for the wrong reasons.

Questions about policies that show you in a negative light. Inquiries about Internet usage policy, for example, just might tip off the interviewer that you plan to check social media or shop during work hours. If you ask about drug testing, you’ve raised attention to an issue that may not even be relevant to the hiring process.                                                –from PayScale

Do People Who Ask for Raises Get Them?

Although 43 percent of workers have asked for a raise in the last year, only 44 percent of those received the amount they wanted, according to new research. Twenty-five percent who asked for raises received none at all. Over one-fourth of those surveyed said they were too uncomfortable to ask for raises. This group tended to be at the lower end of the salary scale.                                                                                                                –from The Atlantic

Job Search Apps for Students

Yes, there is an app for that! Here are a few apps to help college students find jobs.

  1. Hidden Jobs App: Tracks hiring announcements to jobs that may never be posted.
  2. Indeed Job-Search App: Offers free access to company websites and job boards via powerful search engine.
  3. iPQ Career Planner: Helps identify the ideal job.                              –from Quintcareers


Writing an Elegant Resignation Letter

By Dana Loewy

Our students may not be in a position to write resignation messages anytime soon. After all, many are just beginning their professional careers. However, students benefit from examining well-written business documents closely and with guidance.

Help your students understand the strategy by walking them through this excellent contemporary resignation letter written by Alex S. Jones, outgoing director at Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. We’ve included both an annotated version of the letter and the original. Below is a suggested strategy for sharing this example of a real-world business document in your classroom.

How to Introduce the Assignment

A useful strategy is to ask questions to activate prior knowledge and to stimulate critical thinking. The following questions may be suitable for both purposes:

  • When might you write a resignation letter?
    A worker may have found a better job or wants to go back to school, for instance. Students may add other examples.
  • Why write a letter? Can’t you just talk to your supervisor?
    Yes, you will want to speak to your supervisor first, but it’s a good idea to create a record of giving notice verbally. A letter is appropriate in this situation because it’s a formal document that may end up in your personnel file. As a public figure, Mr. Jones faces much scrutiny. His farewell must be well-conceived.
  • Why should a resignation message be graceful and tactful?
    Smart workers don’t burn bridges. They are considerate and professional, which also means that they give sufficient notice as a courtesy to the employer. In an age of social media, rude behavior may follow a worker around. Conversely, professionalism is showcased in unprecedented ways online. Besides, past employers will be more willing to act as references when the separation is amicable.
  • Why does Alex S. Jones write such a long letter? Are all resignation letters long?
    As director, Mr. Jones owes it to his organization to write a detailed and extensive resignation letter. His executive position demands it. Also, he knew that his remarks would be made public. He clearly wanted to part on excellent terms and elicit goodwill.

Not all resignation letters are long. Most letters of resignation may be brief and basic. They might confirm the date of resignation, offer help to prepare for the resignation, remind the employer of contributions and accomplishments, and end with thanks and a forward-looking statement.

How to Proceed in Discussing the Model Documents

First show the plain resignation letter. Read the document paragraph by paragraph with the class. Solicit students’ feedback after each section. Encourage students to use their gut feeling and common sense.

Even a budding business communicator can tell whether the tone is friendly and positive or rude and negative, for example. The key is to train students to identify how the writer achieves that tone—which means he uses.

After reading and discussing the entire document, you may want to show the annotated letter. Discussing the comments will reinforce the work the class as a whole has accomplished.

Please share with us how the assignment worked for you and your students.

Resignation Letter–Plain

Resignation Letter–Annotated

Personal Brand—Emphasizing the Best You

March_shutterstock_97813853In today’s competitive business environment, young workers must successfully market themselves to stand out from the pack, and many say personal branding is critical to that goal. Personal branding has become a major industry, with books, websites, and consultants competing to cash in on the phenomenon. But what is personal branding?

In marketing, a brand is a name, term, design, or symbol that identifies a company’s goods or services and separates them from those generated by another company. Personal branding applies that definition to an individual. Personal brand is a combination of an individual’s identity and image. Identity is comprised of skills, actions, values, and beliefs. Image is how others interpret those characteristics. Reputation—and a personal brand—is built when many people consistently view a person in the same way.

Experts offer these tips as ways to build a personal brand.

  1. Weave your story. Answer questions such as “Who am I?” “How do others see me?” “What am I known for?” “What do I stand for?” Be able to clearly explain the image you want others to identify in you. Then create a personal narrative. If you have multiple aspects of your life, think how you can weave them together to create a cohesive theme.
  1. Audit your online presence. Google yourself to see what is being said about you. If you have a common name, think about adding a middle initial to separate yourself from the herd.
  1. Create a personal website. A personal website is a great way to boost your online presence. Even a few pages that just include a résumé, a brief bio, and links to social media platforms are a great way to begin. You can always add more items as events occur.
  1. Build associations with established brands. Connect with names others will recognize, such as a prestigious school, mentor, or organization. Start making these connections by tapping into your three C’s: colleagues, college, and company.

Discussion Questions for the Classroom

  1. A personal brand is especially important to develop when you need to stand out within an organization, but why would developing a personal brand before you begin looking for work be important?
  1. What are some ways you can develop an impressive online presence while you are still in college?
  1. What is the difference between a personal narrative and a résumé?


Did you discuss personal branding with your students? Join the conversation and tell us about it!



Hyder, S. (2014, August 18). 7 things you can do to build an awesome personal brand. Retrieved from

Williams, B. (2014, December 14). Make it personal. Retrieved from

Williams, B. (2014, December 9). 5 steps to introduce a personal brand. Retrieved from