Author Archives: bizcombuzz

Answering the Dreaded Salary Question… Ace That Online Job Interview… From The New York Times Questions Not to Ask in Job Interviews

Answering the Dreaded Salary Question

“What are your salary expectations?” may well be the diciest question job seekers are asked. How does one frame the response so that the salary range is not too high to turn off the potential employer or so low that it will drag down your income indefinitely?

The first thing to remember is that being asked about salary expectations is standard, but being asked about current salary is actually illegal in some states. Therefore, it pays to know your region’s regulations.

Because all job seekers know the question is likely to come up, preparation is key. Experts recommend the following strategies:

  • Research typical salaries for the job title and geographic location of the position. Factor in your skill level and any other unique qualities you bring to the table before tossing out a number.
  • Know your needs. Determine the amount you need to sustain yourself.
  • Ask for details of additional benefits. The amount an employer chips in for health care, child care, bonuses, or stock options can affect the final salary figure.
  • Delay your answer. If you do not know enough about the position yet, respond by saying you can’t answer until you know more about the total compensation package.
  • Respond with a range of salaries. Rather than picking a single figure, provide the potential employer with a salary range you would find acceptable.

From Insider

Ace That Online Job Interview

Online interviews are much like in-person meetings, so prepare by conducting pre-interview research.

  •  Investigate the firm. Visit sites such as Glassdoor or Indeed to learn about what employees say about their company. Pour over the organization’s website and social media to find out what the company says about itself.
  • Scope out the interviewer. If you know who will be interviewing you, visit LinkedIn to learn about the interviewer’s background and current position.
  • Prepare your interview space. Make sure lighting, camera angle, clothing, and background show you as a professional. Also try using your communication technology before the interview to ensure you are comfortable with it.
  • Practice answers. If you’ve never been on an interview, locate lists of typical questions and rehearse your answers ahead of time.
  • Focus on your value. Be prepared to convey what your specific skill set can bring to the organization rather than what the organization can do for your career.
  • Ask the interviewer questions. Make sure you have questions to ask at the end of the meeting. Jot down questions that arise during the interview, too.
  • Send a thank-you e-mail. Use specifics from the interview in your follow-up e-mail, which should go out within 24 hours after the interview.

Finally, remember that each interview helps prepare you for the next one. Learn from each experience.

From The New York Times

Questions Not to Ask in Job Interviews

It’s common knowledge that interviewees should have a list of questions to ask at the end of or during an interview. But here are some questions to avoid.

  1. Personal questions (Are you single? Is that a picture of your child?)
  2. Easily researched questions (What does your company do? Is your company eco-conscious?)
  3. Self-involved questions (Will I have my own office? Will I have to work long hours? Did I land the job?)
  4. Gossipy questions (Are the rumors about a buyout true? Is it true you promote from within the organization?)

However, it is okay to ask about the next steps in the hiring process.

From Insider

It’s or Its: Which Is a Pronoun?

With nouns, an apostrophe indicates possession (ex: Mireya’s book, the doctor’s stethoscope.) When substituting for nouns, we use personal pronouns (he, she it, we, they, etc.). However, here possession is expressed with possessive pronouns, not apostrophes.

Each personal pronoun comes with a matching possessive pronoun: his, her, and its. Most people struggle with its because they confuse it with the contraction for it is or it has, it’s. Let’s take a look:

Example: The dog was biting its paw. [The paw belongs to the dog so its is possessive.]

It’s always is the contraction for it is or it has.

Example: It’s been a particularly warm summer. [It’s is the contraction for It has.]

There is no word its’.

Choose the correct pronoun in the sentences below.

  1. The manager doesn’t think its/it’s a good idea to hire more employees during an economic downturn.
  2. The flashdrive appeared to have lost its/it’s content.
  3. Hao misplaced his phone, but he thinks its/it’s on his desk.
  4. It/It’s always fun to watch a cat chase its/it’s tail.
  5. Although Esteban enjoyed the film, he wasn’t impressed by its/it’s CGI.
  6. At its/it’s last meeting, the Board of Directors voted to allow employees to work remotely.
  7. Its/It’s not surprising to see the cost of employee benefits rising.
  8. In TechWave’s offices, its/it’s always acceptable to work on one of the many sofas placed around the open space.
  9. The marketing department lost its/it’s budget to hire freelancers.
  10. Because its/it’s been raining for a week, the Expo had to be moved indoors.

Its or It’s Exercise

AnswerKey_Its or It’s

Building Classroom Atmosphere Without the Classroom

The scratch of chairs sliding, the zip of backpacks opening, and the hum of students chatting have been replaced by squares of faces on a computer screen, often inanimate.

Those once routine sounds that marked the moments before class began helped create the learning atmosphere in which students formed bonds with one another or approached their instructor casually. That atmosphere helped set the tone of a class that is difficult to duplicate when teaching remotely.

Still, instructors can build a positive remote classroom atmosphere with a few strategies, outlined below.

Assign “class-adjacent socializing.” One ofthe biggest losses during remote teaching has been the inability of students to connect with one another to create the social bonds that lead to a sense of community in a classroom. A recent post from Inside Higher Ed discussed a way to create informal “class-adjacent socializing” to accomplish this desirable outcome.

The main point of the activity was not for students to discuss class material, but rather for them to get to know one another so that when they didcollaborate online, they felt comfortable doing so. In this series of graded, low-stakes activities, the instructor put students into groups of four and tasked them to talk about anything, class-related or not. Each group had an organizer who received an e-mail with instructions about how to set up the meetings, possible discussion topics, and an explanation of the activity’s purpose. The exercise occurred three times early in the semester. The role of organizer was switched each time, and that individual was responsible for sending the instructor a screenshot of everyone on the videocall with a 100-word summary of what the group discussed.

Have students work in learning pods. Learning pods can be used to conduct peer editing or to facilitate group meetings, discussions, or writing workshops. Depending on the instructor’s preference, students may remain in the same pod for an entire semester for consistency or be in different pods for each group assignment so they meet more classmates. Many apps for group work exist including Slack, Google’s Messages, or Zoom. Zoom’s breakout room feature, for example, allows the host to set up groups beforehand or to assign students to groups at random. Zoom also allows the instructor to “visit” the breakout rooms.

Help students feel part of a learning community. Research has shown that students in online writing classes are more motivated if they feel a sense of belonging to the class. Instructors can foster this feeling first by making sure they have no biases in their own teaching practices.

In addition, instructors may need to adjust their teaching practices to help create an atmosphere in which students feel invested in a class despite being physically separate from classmates. Several strategies work to accomplish this. Many studies have shown that students feel part of a learning community when they can choose topics that interest them either culturally or professionally.

This can be tricky in the business communication classroom, but it is possible to integrate assignments that give students some level of agency. For example, instructors might assign students to work in groups to create a social media campaign for a local non-profit, write a brochure or newsletter for a campus organization, or compose a letter to a firm’s board of directors asking them to reconsider a policy. Such activities help support students’ learning by enhancing their motivation and by giving them a chance to make their voices heard.

Another method to encourage students to take a stake in their learning is to vary the ways they demonstrate what they’ve learned. Of course writing is integral in a business communication classroom, but many genres require the clear, purposeful prose characteristic of writing in professional contexts. Oral presentations accompanied by slide decks can replace a written business report. A speech can be given in lieu of writing a persuasive proposal. A podcast can deliver information. These alternatives to traditional writing assignments may bring in students who might otherwise feel adrift.

Students and instructors alike are looking forward to the day when the sounds of an actual, not virtual, classroom mark the beginning of class. Until then, the above activities provide students with a semblance of the classroom atmosphere to which we long to return, hopefully sooner rather than later.