Monthly Archives: September 2010

6 Important Steps to Resigning

Are you preparing to leave your current job for a new one? Resigning from a job can be a very difficult thing to do. So, before you quit your job, think thoroughly about the reasons for leaving. And, if you’re still ready to move on, resign from your job the right way.

Leave for the right reasons. There are many motives for leaving a job. Employees quit for reasons like new opportunities, higher salary, or relocation. The last thing you want to do is leave a job for the wrong reasons because you could end up regretting your decision. If you’re leaving a job for an issue such as a misunderstanding or conflict with a co-worker, try to resolve the issue first. Whatever the motive, make sure your decision is the right one for you before you break the news to your boss.

Inform your employer first. Once you’ve made the decision to leave and found the right job, you may be tempted to confide in your co-workers. But, be careful because you don’t want your employer finding out through the rumor-mill. So, tell your boss first. In addition to talking with your employer, be sure to hand-deliver a resignation letter at the time of your resignation. Writing a resignation letter is not only a professional way to explain your resignation, but it’s also good for documentation purposes.

In your letter, be professional and avoid any malicious statements that could be taken negatively. You don’t want to burn any bridges between you and your employer. Remember to start your letter by stating your reason for leaving, but be careful with how you present your reasons. You don’t need to go into detail about what went wrong. Instead, simply state that you’re leaving for a great opportunity or for career advancement. Be sure to give a specific end date of work and thank the employer and company for the opportunities you have had to work for them in your letter.

Give sufficient notice. No matter what, you want to leave your job on a good note, because you’ve worked hard to develop professional relationships with your boss and co-workers and you never know when you’ll need a reference. Consult your employee handbook to see what the company’s notice requirements or procedures are before leaving a position. You want to give time for projects to be completed or re-assigned. This also allows the company time to look for and hire a replacement. The traditional amount of notice individuals give is two weeks, but the more responsibility you have at that company the more advanced notice you may be required to give in order to have a smooth transition.

Wrap up your projects. Start working toward getting all of your projects wrapped up and completed before you leave. Also, be sure to clean up your e-mail inbox and gather all files and projects so you can hand them over to your boss or the person taking them over. Be sure to stay active while you’re still working for the company. Make sure your boss and coworkers have the materials they need to train your replacement. It is natural to feel a sense of withdrawal, but it’s important to stay focused on work until the end. Leaving a job on a good note will help you maintain key networks later, So don’t leave on bad terms by slacking off during your last week of work.

Enquire about your benefits. Be sure to talk to your HR department or your boss about employee benefits like health insurance to find out when they expire, or if life insurance policies and retirement benefits will transfer with you.

Be ready for an exit interview. Many companies use this opportunity to know the real reason why you’re leaving. The interview will usually be conducted by a HR person to gather information about improving working conditions and how to retain employees. Be aware that you may be asked to complete a questionnaire.  Be honest during your interview, but remain professional and positive.

Feeling a little guilty is natural when resigning from a job. But, for the most part, your co-workers and employer should be happy for you if you handle your resignation properly. Don’t create the impression that you are spiteful. Before hurrying out the door, try to resolve any conflicts that may have led to your decision. There is no point leaving on bad terms and you’ll want to avoid any problems in the future, especially for referencing purposes. The most important thing to remember as you are going through your resignation process is that you leave on a good note.

Time Management and Your Day

How would you say you manage your time through the workday? Have you taken on a bigger workload, find yourself working longer hours, or feel like you have never-ending projects staring you in the face? Before you get overwhelmed with your to-do list and the stress sets in, here are a few tips to help you manage your day and keep your projects in check.

Keep your project list up to date. It’s never a good feeling when you have projects that seem to just sneak up out of nowhere. Try to always be aware of what is coming up that you need to do. Using a project list as a time management tool and keeping it updated will help you prioritize. For example, outline all of the projects you need to accomplish for the week and when they are due. From there, outline the daily actions you need to complete in order to finish the projects. Prioritize what needs to be done first, second, third, and so on. Breaking larger projects out into smaller steps will also help you better manage them and not get so overwhelmed.

Don’t be afraid to speak up. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about your projects, don’t shy away from talking to your manager about them. Having open and clear communication is important for you and your manager. Make sure you talk through the details of your projects to help you complete your tasks in a timely manner. Also, keep your manager in the loop about your progress and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.  

Learn how to prioritize. Let’s face it. There are only so many hours in a day, so there’s only so much you can get done. What projects are most important for you to complete right now and which ones can wait? Always talk to your manager first to learn how to prioritize your tasks and outline your day. If there is something that needs to be done right away and you don’t have the time to do it, find out if someone else can cover that project or if the deadline can be shifted? Don’t adopt the superman or superwoman mentality that you can do everything by yourself and in record-breaking time. When you’re already dealing with a full plate, trying to make room for one more thing isn’t always easy. Overextending yourself by agreeing to take on additional projects when don’t have the time will not leave a good impression for your employer if you under perform.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, but someone comes to you for help with another project, be honest with them about what you’re working on. Let them know you will visit with your manager regarding the project and will get back to them about when it can be completed or who can take the project on. This still shows the initiative that you want to take on new duties, but also that you’re responsible about how much and when you can do them.

Make time for you. Do you get time for lunch each day? Do you use that time to get away from the office or can you be found at your desk still doing something work related during that time? Use your free time to get up from your desk, grab something to eat, or stretch. Just getting away from your current tasks for even a little bit can give you the chance to refresh and refocus for the rest of your day. Take time to recharge yourself throughout the day with a few little breaks and you can see a big difference in the amount of energy you have to accomplish your priorities.

These are just a few ways to help you get through the work day with less stress. When you have more control of what you have to do, it won’t control you, and it will help you be a better employee and have better days at work.

7 Tricky Job Interview Questions and Ways to Respond

It’s normal to feel a bit nervous about an interview. You are meeting someone you don’t know well and you have a very short period of time to make a standout first impression. And, then they stump you with questions you’re not sure you know how to respond to. Many people misinterpret questions asked by employers, so they either say something they shouldn’t or they don’t know the appropriate way to respond. Once you know what to expect, you will likely perform better. To help you, here are some frequently asked questions and how you can answer them correctly.

What are your strengths? This question gives you the opportunity to talk about your attributes. This is a good time to showcase how your skills correlate to the key job description. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a bank teller, telling the employer that you’re excellent at baking bread is probably not the best answer to give considering it’s not the skill they’re looking for. Always tie in your strengths and be sure you explain how your skills and strengths correlate to the job.

What are your weaknesses? This is a common question, but can be very tricky. Be careful how you phrase your answer. Employers know that you have weaknesses – we all do. So, don’t tell them that you don’t have any weaknesses. First, be straightforward and honest about your weaknesses, but be sure to positively phrase your weaknesses as challenges you have overcome or are currently working to overcome. For example, instead of saying, “My weakness is that I’m highly disorganized and I have trouble with task management.” You say something more like, “Being organized wasn’t always my strongest point but I have taken time to implement and incorporate a daily and weekly time management system that has allowed me to better handle more projects and consistently complete them on time.”

The key to answering this question is to show the employer that you’re taking steps to better yourself and are constantly working on turning your weaknesses into strengths.

Why are you seeking new employment? Be careful of how you answer this question. The last thing you want to do is bash a former employer. Telling an interviewer about the bad bosses you have had and how miserable they made your life will not get you anywhere in an interview. Instead, say something like, “I learned a lot from my previous job, but I am ready for new opportunities and to continue growing my skill set.”

Tell us about your work gap: If you have a work gap, an employer may be curious to know why and may ask what you did during that period. This is a great time to talk about opportunities where you’ve worked on growing your skills or discovering new talents. This shows the employer that even though you were out of a job, you still took the time to keep your skills current.

If you’re currently unemployed and have a work gap, seek out opportunities to use your skills in volunteer organizations. This still allows you to do work that interests you that you could also put in a portfolio.

What is a difficult situation you’ve faced in the past and how have you handled it? This interview question will help an interviewer discover how you handled and overcame certain situations in the past. For this question, don’t go into extreme detail about the situation, but tell how you implemented solutions to solve the problem. Give concrete examples. Before your interview, refresh your memory on how you have tackled difficult situations.

What are your salary requirements? It is best not to bring up salary negotiations in the first interview unless you interviewer mentions it first. Be sure to do your homework prior to the interview to know a salary range for the job. To help with your research, check out But remember, don’t discuss salary until the employer mentions it.

Why should we hire you? Talk about your skills and how you can be an asset to the company. Remember to tie your strengths into the job description. Also talk about how your skills can benefit the company. Impress them with what you can do for them. Give examples and highlight why your skills qualify or make you the best candidate for the job.

At first glance, some questions may seem difficult for you to answer, but they don’t have to be that way. Use the above tips to learn how you can effectively answer some frequently asked interview questions and shine during your next interview.


Tackle-boss-1 The winning story for the Touchdown with a Bad Boss Contest is The Power of HR submitted by Tracey. Over 1300 votes were cast and The Power of HR received nearly 40% of those. Communication Kick Off received 32% of the votes so it was a close game.  Tracey will receive the Football Victory Package including a 40-inch LCD TV, a $100 Visa gift card, and a tailgate party gift basket.

Thanks for submitting your stories and voting! And remember, next time you have a problem with your boss, before you storm off to the sidelines, think of a way you can score a touchdown with a win-win.

8 Tips to a Job Interview over Lunch or Dinner

At some point in your job search or career, you may be invited to a job interview over breakfast, lunch, or dinner. While meal times are usually relaxing and entertaining, business-related dining for a job interview is more professional and employers use the opportunity to test an applicant’s social skills. If you’re nervous about attending a job interview over lunch or dinner, don’t panic. Use these tips to help improve your dining etiquette and get the job.

Arrive early. Many lunch interviews will take place during office hours, so interviewers may be pressed for time to get back to the office. Be respectful of their time and show up when expected.

Dress appropriately. Even though you might be in a casual restaurant, be sure to dress appropriately for the interview. For instance, you might wear a suit if you’re applying for a more professional job or a nice pair of slacks if it’s an industrial job. Depending on what kind of job you’re applying for, make sure you find out what is appropriate for that specific field.

Turn off cell phone. You’re making a first impression from the minute you step into the restaurant. Stay focused on why you’re there. To avoid possible distractions while dining, it’s best to leave your cell phone in the car during an interview. If you’re expecting an emergency phone call, be cautious and let your host know in advance. If you must take your phone with you, put it on silent.

Make conversation. Prior to your interview, gather as much information as you can and talk with the interviewer about what you know about their company and their job. It’s easy to get nervous during an interview, but don’t let that prevent you from being conversational. Chat with your interviewer as you’re ordering your food.

Use good manners. Be sure to sit up straight and engage yourself with your surroundings. Don’t slouch on the table. Since it’s an interview, you’re going to get a lot of questions so avoid talking with a mouth full of food. Also, avoid ordering food like spaghetti or lobster so you don’t make a mess, and remember to keep your elbows off the table.

Follow the interviewers lead. Mirror the body language of your host. If they lean forward, do so too. Also, follow their lead when ordering your food. Stay within the price range of your host, but if your host asks you to go ahead and order first, pick something that isn’t too expensive. Also, be sure to make your food choice quickly. Don’t spend a lot of time trying to decide what you want to order. Remember the reason you’re there is to interview, not to hang out with friends.

Be polite. Don’t be rude to a server or restaurant staff because it will reflect badly on you. Don’t forget your host is watchful of your behavior so be sure to say please and thank you when necessary.

Send a follow-up thank-you note.
In a situation where you and other candidates may possess equal qualifications for a job, a thank-you note can be used as a tie breaker. So, after your lunch or dinner, be sure to follow up with a thank-you note.

Most interviews conducted during a breakfast, lunch, or dinner setting are a little different than being in the interviewer’s office. These interviews can reveal your social skills and how you act in situations other than the business environment. Remember that confidence goes a long way in every interview so be sure to smile and maintain eye contact when necessary. Relax, enjoy the food and company, and show potential employers that you’re the perfect match for the position you’re interviewing for.

My Entry-Level Life: That’s a Wrap!

EntryLevelLifeButton_D We hope you’ve enjoyed the series on My Entry-Level Life. You’ve gotten some valuable information to help you with your job search. My Entry-Level Life covered the basics of how to interview, create and update your résumé, dress for success, handle office politics, schedule meetings, and much more. Whether you’re looking for an internship, your first full-time job, or you’re switching industries to start a brand new career, you can always reference the great tips and advice this series covered.

Do you have success stories to share about an entry-level job you had this summer? We would like to hear them!

Also, be on the lookout for our upcoming series, Résumé Boot Camp: Tips to help you whip your résumé into shape.

Making the Switch – 5 Tips for Changing Careers

Maybe you’re bored with your current job or you have just started to lose interest in it. Perhaps you’re looking for a job where you can make a difference in someone’s life or you want a job that allows you a more flexible schedule. It’s very common for people to want to change careers or industries at some point in their lives. But, changing careers can be nerve-racking. To help relieve anxiety and frustration, follow these tips to make your career change a smooth transition.

Evaluate your current situation: What’s your reason for wanting to switch careers? Are you looking for a more challenging job? Or, are you just looking to get a better paycheck? Whatever your reasoning, before making a change, be aware of what is at stake and what you have to gain from a career move. Determine if your reasons for leaving could easily be solved. If you’re bored, talk with your boss to see if you can take on some more interesting projects. If you don’t think there’s growth opportunity at your current job, ask about career pathing to make sure you know your options. Then, if you’re still ready to move on, research the industry. If the benefits outweigh the negatives, it may be a good time to move on.

Researching new careers: Researching careers is a very crucial part of deciding to change careers because it will help you understand the ins and outs of your chosen field, and also help you realize what you’re getting into. Before making this important decision, find out everything you can about your desired career move. Things to find out include; salary range information, job opportunities in your area, and working conditions. If you don’t want to relocate, you want to make sure your area has growth opportunity for the industry you’re interested in. You can also check the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook for more career information. Doing research ahead of time will prepare you for what to expect and help prevent any unwanted surprises after you enter your new industry.

Get the training you need: Be aware that a career change may require you to get additional training. The training may require just taking a few classes by getting a brand new degree. It’s important to always seek new ways to grow your knowledge and skill set when it comes to today’s job market. This will make you more competitive, as well as an overall better employee.

Network with industry leaders: The people you network with may be able to give you job offers or advice. Find out about the networking organizations and associations relating to your industry and get involved. Seek out individuals who are experts in the field you want to go into. And, talking with people in your field of interest could help you decide if it is something you’re really interested in.

Find a mentor: Mentoring is important for most professions, but it’s especially important when you are new to a profession. A mentor will serve as a guide and will offer you the direction and coaching you need when first starting out. You can shadow them to learn the ropes of your new job or just gain insight into what you want to do in a career. A mentor can be a great resource of information for any questions you might have. Find someone who has experience in the field you are looking to enter. It can be anyone from a boss to a co-worker to a former professor.

Changing careers can help you to learn new things and expand your skills. But it’s also a big decision and one that can be scary. It is important to take your time to carefully think about your choices and what you want to do. The extra time and research will help you to find the job you really enjoy.