Essential HR Handbook

About The Essential HR Handbook — A quick and handy resource for any manager or HR professional, this book by HR experts Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell is a useful 250-page reference guide. Published in the fall of 2008 by Career Press, it is a must-have for everyone who deals with employees on a daily basis, say the authors who wrote the book because — as human resource professionals with decades of experience — they wanted to shed light on the issues that keep managers up at night.

How Inkandescent PR Helped — Sharon and Barbara approached Hope Gibbs to get the word out about their new book. The Inkandescent team created an elegant website (design by Michael Gibbs, concept and writing by Hope Gibbs and programming by Max Kukoy) that not only featured the new book, but also highlighted Sharon’s 2003 book, “Stress Free Performance Appraisals,” and through a variety of articles and a speaking engagement / workshop calendar showed readers the expanse of experience and expertise these two veteran HR professionals have.

Success Story — Due to the posting of several press releases and an active reporter outreach campaign, the Essential HR Handbook sold hundreds of copies within months of its release, and Sharon and Barbara have been sought after speakers for companies looking to build their teams and improve their relationships with employees.

In the News: Career coach and author Sharon Armstrong on "How to Explain the Gap in Your Resume With Ease"

The Muse, May 13, 2014 — In today’s issue of, reporter Elizabeth Alterman writes:

“When I was laid off in January, in addition to the usual concerns, like “How quickly will I find a new job?” and “How will we pay the mortgage?” I also worried about having yet another employment gap on my resume.”

She asked career coach and author of The Essential HR Handbook, Sharon Armstrong for advice.

Armstrong said: “Honesty is always the best policy. Don’t hide it; explain it. During the entire process of conducting a job search, maintain your integrity and demonstrate it. Jobs come and go, but being known for being truthful—and conversely, deceitful—can last a lifetime.”

Click here to read more.

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CBS MoneyWatch interviews InkandescentPR client Sharon Armstrong on "4 Ways to Find a New Job Offline, in a digital age"

September 12, 2013, CBS MoneyWatch — “Do you feel like you’re spending 24/7 on the computer, applying to job after job and constantly tweaking your online profiles, but are no closer to securing a new position?” asks CBS MoneyWatch reporter Amy Levin-Epstein, who interviewed HR expert Sharon Armstrong on some things you can do offline that will be complementary to your online efforts.

Armstrong’s advice: “Work with headhunters. Utilizing these professionals can not only help you get an interview, but also a competitive salary once you’re the one that they want. It behooves them to get you the highest salary since their fee is based on it. The downside is that they will present several qualified candidates. That is a minor drawback.”

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Bank of America interviews InkandescentPR client Sharon Armstrong on how to find the best hires in the post-recession

August 23, 2013, Bank of America Small Business Community — In today’s feature article, reporter Robert Lerose interviewed HR expert Sharon Armstrong about the best places for employers to look for new hires.

“Over this past summer, the unemployment rate has slowly been ticking down and, increasingly, employers seem to be in a hiring mode,” Lerose explains. “But as small businesses restart the hiring process, the challenge to find qualified candidates will likely take up more of their time and energy.”

Don’t miss Armstrong’s insights into what’s different today than before the recession, tips on interviewing well, and how a small business can distinguish itself in the minds of job applicants.

Plus, be sure to download Armstrong’s free report: 100 Best Interview Questions.

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CBS MoneyWatch interviews InkandescentPR client Sharon Armstrong on: "Leaving your job? How to start the conversation"

Aug. 5, CBS MoneyWatch — “You don’t have to be a career coach or a seasoned executive to know you don’t want to burn bridges when leaving your job,” says reporter Amy Levin-Epstein in today’s CBS MoneyWatch article. “But if you’re even considering jumping ship, you may be fretting the conversation. Will it be awkward — or worse, confrontational and damaging to your reputation?”

She interviewed HR expert Sharon Armstrong, who said:

Share what you’re doing to ease the transition. The best way to avoid burning bridges is to make your leaving as easy as possible on everyone left behind. That’s why Sharon Armstrong, author of “The Essential Performance Review Handbook,” advises saying, “I’m in the process of finishing up all my projects and will leave detailed notes on the status of each. Please feel free to call me if you have any questions.”

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IN THE NEWS: Sharon Armstrong on "HR should know: 3 things to always share"

MoneyWatch, Jan. 4, 2013 — In today’s issue of CBS News’ MoneyWatch, our client Sharon Armstrong, an HR expert and co-author of The Essential HR Handbook, offers advice on the topic, “HR should know: 3 things to always share.”

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IN THE NEWS: Sharon Armstrong Tells Entrepreneur magazine: "How to Make a Poor Performance Review More Effective"

October 12, 2012, Entrepreneur magazine — Sharon Armstrong, author of “The Essential Performance Review Handbook,” shared her wisdom today with reporter Gwen Moran on the topic, “How to Make a Poor Performance Review More Effective.”

Armstrong says: “Being consistent in giving performance reviews can be tough when you’re delivering a not-so-great review,” and offers four tips to make the process less painful.

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IN THE NEWS: Sharon Armstrong featured in MoneyWatch Article, "How to tell what a company can afford to pay"

August 15, 2012, MoneyWatch — “Given the tight labor market, it’s tempting to immediately accept any job offer you might get,” writes CBS News reporter Amy Levin-Epstein. “But how can you tell if a prospective employer is making the best financial offer for the position in question?”

To figure out if a company is low-balling you, she interviewed Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential HR Handbook, and owner of Sharon Armstrong & Associates, who says, “Do your due diligence.”

Click here to read the entire article.

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IN THE NEWS: Sharon Armstrong featured in AmericanExpress OPEN Forum article: "4 Tips to an Effective Employee Review"

August 15, 2012, American Express OPEN Forum — An article on “4 Tips to an Effective Employee Review,” in today’s edition of American Express OPEN featured Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential HR Handbook.

Her advice: Schedule frequent discussions. “Reviews can be stressful when employees don’t know what to expect and employers aren’t sure how to break news,” Armstrong says. “Take the edge off by scheduling frequent performance chats with your employee.”

Click here to read the entire article.

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PRESS RELEASE: Be Inkandescent magazine features Barbara Mitchell on "The Challenge of Managing Multiple Generations At Work"

Arlington, VA, August 10, 2012 — While working with multiple generations in the workforce is challenging, it isn’t impossible, says HR and hiring expert Barbara Mitchell, author of “The Big Book of HR.” The key is to take time to look for the common ground, she says.

“It’s also critical to honor and respect differences instead of letting them drive wedges between co-workers” she adds, noting that the best strategy is to realize that not everyone who is part of a certain generation behaves the same way.

Note, too, that in the coming years Millennials (born 1982-2003) will make up the largest segment of the US population, and, therefore, the workforce.

“Those of us who have been working for decades often find it hard to be patient with the younger employees on staff,” she has observed. “That’s why it is critical to understand where these folks are coming from.”

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IN THE NEWS: Sharon Armstrong featured on CBS' Money Watch

Jan. 7, 2012, Money Watch — “Do you view HR as the enemy, doing recognizance for Corporate? Or do you see your HR rep as Michael Scott did Toby—someone who tries to suck the fun out of the office?” asks CBS’ Money Watch reporter Amy Levin-Epstein. “While human resources teams can often lubricate sticky work situations and help build strong office relationships, they’re often viewed less generously by staff.”

But what is the most challenging part of the job? Epstein asked Inkandescent PR’s client Sharon Armstrong, co-author of The Essential HR Handbook.

Nowhere is this more clear than in the comments section of a story I posted a few months ago, 4 Things Never To Share With HR. But is such distrust really warranted? How do HR folks themselves view their position on the corporate ladder, and the criticism they might face? I asked four career experts — all former HR professionals — about their past professions (the good, the bad, and, at times, ugly). Here are their candid responses.

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IN THE NEWS: Sharon Armstrong featured in Inc. Magazine, "It's August. Time for Employee Reviews?"

August 19, 2011, Inc. Magazine — “An old joke among human resources professionals is that employee reviews are like fruitcakes. They come once a year whether you want them to or not,” writes Inc. Magazine reporter Elizabeth Sile in her article, It’s August. Time for Employee Reviews?

Because these reviews remain necessary evils, Shile turned to Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential Performance Review Handbook, for advice.

Armstrong said, “It is crucial to gather as many specific examples of good and bad behavior as possible and collect objective information on employee performance. This shouldn’t be done right before a performance appraisal meeting; rather, achievements and slip-ups must be tracked throughout the year.”

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IN THE NEWS: Sharon Armstrong Answers the Question, "Can bad spelling ruin your chances of landing a job?"

March 10, 2011, — “Can bad spelling ruin your chances of landing a job?,” asks reporter Rachel Farrell. “Almost every time you hear about mistakes to avoid in your résumé or cover letter, you see the same things: lying about your experience, providing too much information or using the same generic résumé for every application. We also preach about spelling,” she writes.

“Excellent communication skills can pave the way to promotions for employees,” says Sharon Armstrong, president, Sharon Armstrong and Associates. “If you are a life-long learner, you’ll continue to work on the skills that will help you grow and develop. Any company that cares about their ‘brand’ will be put off by bad spelling. A company that cares about the details will want to always show a professional image.”

“Read the entire article here.:

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SHARON ARMSTRONG IS IN THE NEWS: Author of "The Essential Performance Review Handbook," is quoted in The Wall Street Journal

July 18, 2010, The Wall Street Journal — “If you’ve been marking time at work and hoping to get a new job, you’re not alone,” writes reporter Dennis Nishi in today’s issue of The Wall Street Journal. “But employment experts caution restless job seekers from jumping ship too soon. If you move too quickly you might end up in a new job that you dislike even more. Still, you can improve your odds of finding something worthwhile by planning ahead and doing some research.”

Nishi quotes Sharon Armstrong, owner of Sharon Armstrong & Associates and author of The Essential Performance Review Handbook, who says:

“When you land an interview, use the opportunity to learn about the company. You should get as much from them as they will try to get from you, says Sharon Armstrong, a human-resources consultant in Washington. Salary and benefits are important, but you also want to make sure you’re compatible. It’s difficult to tell what the workplace culture is like from casual visits. Don’t be shy about calling for more information and contact current and former employees, if possible, to get a feel for the company and opportunities.”

“If you get an offer, before you accept, consider doing more in-depth financial research on the company; try the Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR Public Dissemination Service (”

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IN THE NEWS: The Washington Business Journal's TIP JAR features Sharon Armstrong

June 25, 2010, Tip Jar at the Washington Business Journal — “Vacations can be blessing or bane, depending on whether you’re in the midst of one yet,” writes Tip Jar at the Washington Business Journal in an article entitled, Vacation skeds no day at beach.

“The curse comes at both ends of the time off — hurriedly finishing tasks so you’re not still pounding on your BlackBerry during the painfully long drive to the beach or tiredly returning to a messy desk, logjammed inbox, full voice mail, overworked colleagues and cross-examining boss.”

HR expert Sharon Armstrong, author of “The Essential Performance Review Handbook,” and co-author of “The Essential HR Handbook,” says the key to sanity amid a landscape of empty offices is lassoing more short-term help — calling all temp agencies! — or doing more with the lucky folks left in the office.

“Just make sure there’s enough cross-training that’s happened so it isn’t so desperate when someone wants to take off,” says Sharon Armstrong, who founded a D.C. human resources consulting and training business. “There should be some coverage.”

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IN THE NEWS: Federal News Radio talks to Sharon Armstrong about her new book, "The Essential Performance Review Handbook"

June 3, 2010, Federal News Radio — At 3 p.m. today, Federal News Radio reporter Christopher J. Dorobek interviewed Sharon Armstrong, author of new The Essential Performance Review Handbook, about how to make performance reviews a less painful process.

He explains:

“If you hate your annual performance review, don’t worry. You’re not alone,” he said. “Some employees dread that yearly meeting with their boss, where intangible topics, such as ‘future goals’ are often discussed. And we’ve heard tales that bosses don’t like them much, either.”

“But the performance review doesn’t have to be a chore . . . or torturous. They can actually be productive conversations that not only benefit the office, but the organization as a whole.”
“Sharon Armstrong is author of the Essential Performance Review Handbook, and has served as director of human resources at several organizations in the D.C. metro area. She says progress is being made when it comes to performance reviews, and successful organizations are making them really work.”

Click here to download the mp3 file, and read the article.

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HOT OFF THE PRESSES! Sharon Armstrong releases her new book, "The Essential Performance Review Handbook"

Washington DC, May 27, 2010 — “It’s not supposed to be this way,” writes HR specialist Sharon Armstrong in the introduction to her new book, “The Essential Performance Review Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource for Any Manager or HR Professional,” published in May 2010 by Career Press (

Although performance reviews are actually less popular than a trip to the dentist for most supervisors (see that study below), the good news is that Sharon Armstrong — the woman who began her career in Human Resources in 1985 as a recruiter/trainer in a large Manhattan law firm and launched her own HR consulting business in the year 2000 — has found a way to take the pain out of the process.

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IN THE NEWS: Sharon Armstrong featured in NJ Star-Ledger article, "A cover letter without a personal touch is a deal breaker"

Feb. 21, 2010, New Jersey Star-Ledger — Are cover letters important when you are applying for a job? Career experts have very strong points of view when it comes to this question. Unfortunately their opinions are all over the lot.

Sharon Armstrong, author of “The Essential HR Handbook,” suggests a two-column cover letter as a way to demonstrate that fit. The first column heading is “Your Requirements,” which lists each requirement set forth in the job posting.

The corresponding column is “My Qualifications,” which lists how the candidate satisfies each requirement. This format works, according to Armstrong, because:

1. You never know who is screening interviews and you’ve done all their work for them;
2. If the company is scanning, you’ve used all their key words
3. You already have started to prepare yourself for the interview by reviewing your background and how it applies to the needs of that position and the company.

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IN THE NEWS: Sharon Armstrong interviewed for Yahoo! HotJobs article: "After the Fall: Preventing Employee Exodus When the Job Market Picks Up"

January 2010, Yahoo! HotJobs — “Whether the economy roars back in 2010 or slowly climbs out of the hole, HR professionals are anticipating fewer layoffs, more hiring, and, in some cases, a rush to the exits,” writes Yahoo! HotJobs reporter Larry Buhl, who interviewed DC human resources expert Sharon Armstrong.

Armstrong said: Conduct “stay” interviews. Too many companies only learn about employee gripes at exit interviews. Sharon Armstrong, an HR consultant in Washington, D.C., and author of The Essential HR Handbook, recommends surveying employees now. “But employees shouldn’t feel like there will be a ‘gotcha’ when they have complaints. These ‘stay interviews’ should be conducted by a third party, not the manager, or HR could hold focus groups in a safe setting.”

Read More columnist reviews The Essential HR Handbook: HR handbook helps all managers

January 13, 2010, — In Monday’s Washington Examiner, Kansas City Leadership Columnist Eric Jacobson featured The Essential HR Handbook as One of top 235 recommended leadership books from various LinkedIn members.

In today’s newspaper, he reviewed the book and its authors, noting:

It’s unfortunately too common for an employee to be promoted into a management position with little to no Human Resources (HR) training. Similarly, many small business owners don’t have a dedicated human resources person so they end up muddling their way through critical human resources issues while wearing the HR hat.

These are some of the reasons authors Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell wrote the book “The Essential HR Handbook,” described by them as “a quick and handy resource for any manager or HR professional.”

If you don’t have the time or funds to attend HR training at a nearby educational institution or if there is not within your workplace a qualified and seasoned mentor to teach you HR skills, this book provides the novice manager important basics, accompanied by real-world examples and templates that you can readily use as you lead your team of one or more employees. It’s also an excellent refresher for managers who need to hone their hiring, onboarding, and performance evaluating capabilities.

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Washington Examiner features The Essential HR Handbook: One of top 235 recommended leadership books from various LinkedIn members

Washington Examiner, January 10, 2010 — In today’s Washington Examiner, reporter Eric Jacobson featured The Essential HR Handbook as one of the top recommended leadership books from various LinkedIn members.

“Within the list of favorites you’ll find titles published decades ago and ones published last month,” Jacobson explained. “All the books are available on Amazon and through a variety of other sources, including via author web sites. Nearly 70 of the books on the list are linked here to Amazon. All will be in this list format within the next few weeks.”

Here is the list of all 235 books, in alphabetical order. It represents many of the vast approaches to leadership in practice today throughout the world. Take a look to see how many you’ve read. Perhaps you’ll find one of your favorites. Then, select a few to further research and to add your reading list for 2010.”

What’s Your Favorite?

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WASHINGTON DC, December 1, 2009 — Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell, co-authors of the popular human resources book, The Essential HR Handbook (, got word today that their 2008 book is so successful that it will go into its second printing later this month.

Nearly 6000 copies have been sold to date, an impressive amount for a business book, explains the publisher, Career Press. It plans to print 2000 more copies just in time for the holiday rush.

While many of the books are sold at national retail bookstore chains such as Barnes & Noble, the majority of books are sold through In addition to being available in paperback, the 224-page book is one of fewer than 300,000 titles that were selected to be compatible with Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader.

“We couldn’t be more excited that the book is doing so well,” says Armstrong, who is also the author of Stress-free Performance Appraisals, which is also in its second printing. Her next book, The Essential Performance Review Handbook will be published in the spring of 2010.

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E-NEWSLETTER: A Special Report from Sharon Armstrong on Golden & Cohen November News

I’m sending you this special newsletter this month from my colleagues, Scott Golden and Stephanie Cohen, owners of the Gaithersburg, MD health benefits firm Golden & Cohen.

They invited me to write an article about the importance of stress-free performance appraisals for this, their November newsletter. Since a revised edition of my 2003 book is currently at the printer (The Essential Performance Review Handbook will be out in the Spring), I was happy to participate.

I think you’ll enjoy the following articles that focus on the current health care reform bill before Congress and the impact it will have on all of our insurance rates. Also below is an interesting Q&A between Stephanie Cohen and therapist Susan Richman about how to manage stress during the holidays. Since staying stress-free is so important – in every area from holiday madness to performance appraisals – I think you’ll find Susan’s advice useful and informative.

I thank you in advance for welcoming this special news blast into your inbox, and look forward to sending you the December newsletter from Sharon Armstrong & Associates in a few weeks.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Sharon Armstrong, president and founder, Sharon Armstrong & Associates
Author, Stress-free Performance Appraisals (second edition coming in 2010)
The Essential HR Handbook (


IN THE NEWS: Sharon Armstrong talks about "Fair Appraisals"

Systems Contractor News, Aug. 17, 2009 — In today’s Systems Contractor News, HR expert Sharon Armstrong was featured in an article entitled, “Fair Appraisals.” Reporter Carolyn Heinze wrote: “For many, the phrase “evaluation time” conjures up images of classrooms, report cards, parent-teacher meetings and, for those that didn’t do their homework all semester, the prospect of being grounded. It may be years, decades even, since any of us have been in school, but once the announcement is made that our work will be formally appraised, it’s difficult not to slip back into the mindset of a school kid.”

When done right, said Sharon Armstrong, evaluations are ongoing. “That means that you are keeping this conversation going when people are doing the right thing, and nudging them gently when something needs to happen,” she said. “The performance evaluation is a culmination of all of those conversations.”

The key factor, she added, is to train managers that the evaluation is not an annual event; it’s an ongoing conversation, one that should take into account how the business changes throughout the year.

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IN THE NEWS: HR expert Sharon Armstrong featured in Associated Press article about older job seekers struggling to overcome age barriers

WASHINGTON (AP) July 2, 2009 — In an Associated Press wire article posted today in several U.S. newspapers, Sharon Armstrong — author of The Essential HR Handbook and owner of Sharon Armstrong and Associates — talked about ways older job seekers can overcome age barriers.

To avoid appearing out of touch, she explains, they can use their time between jobs to become familiar with the latest technologies and social networking sites.

AP economics writer Christopher Rugaber wrote: Sharon Armstrong, a career consultant in Washington, D.C., urged one client fearful of seeming too old to discuss her use of Twitter and Facebook during job interviews. “I don’t think anyone needs to know when you graduated from college,” she said. “Don’t give people reasons to discriminate against you.”

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IN THE NEWS: Sharon Armstrong featured in the Washington Business Journal

Washington Business Journal, June 4, 2009 — “It’s one of those favorite half-full observations for a human resources department: A down economy is a great opportunity to pick up top talent that might not otherwise be on the market or in your price range,” writes Washington Business Journal reporter Jennifer Nycz-Conner. “That, of course, is easier said than done. But it’s a key move right now.”

Nycz-Conner interviewed several local firms, including HR expert Sharon Armstrong, co-author of The Essential HR Handbook and owner of Sharon Armstrong and Associates.

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IN THE NEWS: HR Expert Encourages 'Bucket List'-Making

Leesburg Today, Thursday, May 15, 2009 — In an article featured in the May 15 issue of the Leesburg Times, reporter Kara Clark wrote about HR expert Barbara Mitchell, co-author of The Essential HR Handbook who spoke at the May 14 Sterling Women luncheon about her experience as a business owner.

“Human resources expert Barbara Mitchell takes exception to the term “bucket list”. Instead, she refers to her list as things to do while I’m still living,” Clark wrote. “She encouraged the 100-plus women in attendance to make such a list. She said she got the idea for her list after reading a newspaper article and immediately sprang to action. She happily reported that she has been able to accomplish the top two priorities on her list: starting a business and writing a book.

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In the News: Sharon Armstrong featured in Washington Business Journal article: Bounce back from a layoff

WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL, March 13, 2009 — Layoffs are never pleasant and often scary. Stay upbeat, make a plan and get busy. This seismic shift could help push your career in a better direction, human resources training and consulting expert Sharon Armstrong told Washington Business Journal reporter Jennifer Nycz-Conner in a March 13 feature on pages 26-27. If you become one of the unfortunate ones, read the following are tips to help you bounce back:

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In the News: Sharon Armstrong interviewed on WUSA: "Looking for a new job?"

WUSA: DC Channel 9 News NOW — HR expert Sharon Armstrong was invited with her colleague Marshall Brown on December 30 to talk about the best approach to find a new job in the current economic downturn. A human resources consultant, trainer and career counselor, Armstrong has interviewed and helped hundreds of job candidates land the perfect job. Brown, a certified career, executive coach, and author of “High-End Resumes,” focuses on strategies for succeeding in interviews and making it to the final candidate list in this tough market.

“Don’t panic,” Armstrong told WUSA reporter Mike Walter. “Just start working right away on a new plan.” Watch the clip on YouTube

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In the News: Sharon Armstrong featured in Washington Business Journal article: Gotta make a plan for inaugural day madhouse

Washington Business Journal, January 9, 2009 — In this week’s Washington Business Journal, HR expert Sharon Armstrong is quoted in an article on page 13 entitled, “Gotta make a plan for inaugural day madhouse.”

Armstrong said executives and human resource professionals have a joint mission: “Communicate, disseminate information, anticipate and get the word out.”

_Work with your human resources team to keep your staff informed of our plans (“We’re closed,” “We’re open, but you can take a vacation day,” etc.) and what’s going on around them. Put together a contact sheet or online list of links to public information about inaugural activities, such as road closing locations and times, suggestions for travel and the like. Get the information to your staff as soon as possible. Then follow up with reminders leading up to Inauguration Day.

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Press Release: Sharon Armstrong featured in new book: "42 Rules™ for Driving Success With Books"


WASHINGTON, DC, January 1, 2009 — Insight into how her three books have helped HR expert Sharon Armstrong’s business is featured in a new book released this month entitled, “42 Rules™ for Driving Success With Books,” by Mitchell Levy, publisher of Happy About, a quick2publish book publisher based in Southern California.

“The authors in this book wrote content that allowed them to demonstrate innovation, share their marketing strategy, improve client retention, and share tricks and techniques on using a tool or service,” Levy explains. “The fact that they put this content in a book gave their ideas weight and increased their credibility and reputation. Having the books show up on Amazon, and other bookstores as well as personally delivering their books to clients/prospects really helped to drive the impact of their message.”

Armstrong is the author of three books: The Essential HR Handbook, 2007, Stress-Free Performance Appraisals, and Healing the Canine Within. For Levy’s book, she contributed the text for Chapter 25: Get Immediate Credibilty.

She writes: “I hadn’t planned on writing ‘Stress-Free Performance Appraisals’ back in 2002. But when an agent at Career Press read my first book … she liked it, and thought I could write another one for her. The next one was for HR professionals, and right up my alley … “

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White Paper: How to Master Behavioral Interviews

Download Sharon Armstrong’s white paper: 100 Best Behavioral Interview Questions

Washington DC, January 1, 2009 — Released today is a free gift from HR expert Sharon Armstrong, “100 Best Interview Questions,” a guide that will help job candidates master a tried and true interviewing technique called behavioral interviewing.

“Behavioral interviewing is defined as a technique used by employers that asserts that past performance is the best indicator of future behavior,” Armstrong explains. “More and more employers are using this approach to make solid hiring decisions.”

How can you best present yourself during a behavioral interview — when it really matters? Armstrong admits these 100 questions can be tricky to master. “With the economy in the doldrums, I wanted to give job candidates a leg up on the interviewing process,” says Armstrong, who suggests job seekers practice answering the 100 questions on pages 2-5 of her guide by:

• Thinking of examples when you have cut costs, introduced a new approach, increased productivity, and encouraged teamwork.
• Giving concrete examples of the technical skills and competencies required for the position.
• Responding to answers using the CALL format:
C = Circumstances: What were you tasked with doing and why.
A = Actions: Explain what steps you took.
LL = Lasting Legacy: Explain the result you achieved.

“Potential employers aren’t trying to trick candidates,” Armstrong assures. “They just want to be sure to match the right person with the right job. These questions help them see inside an applicant and in the end this process assures everyone wins.”

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In the News: Sharon Armstrong featured in Washington Business Journal

Washington Business Journal, November 21, 2008 — What are the biggest challenges facing human resources departments in 2009? A reporter at The Washington Business Journal asked five HR experts, including Sharon Armstrong, owner of Sharon Armstrong & Associates and co-author of The Essential HR Handbook. Her response was featured in the piece issue published today.

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Book PR: Great Holiday Gift, The Essential HR Handbook


Washington DC, November 1, 2008 — In these tough economic times, HR professionals and managers alike need a guide to help them create and keep positive relationships with employees, and develop attractive and fair compensation packages.

That’s why Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell’s new book, “The Essential HR Handbook,” is the perfect gift this holiday season. It’s the perfect time to buy a copy for yourself — and your employees.

“Human resource professionals are not only charged with resolving labor issues,” explains Mitchell, who worked for Marriott Corporation and several technology firms in the Washington DC area before launching her own company — The Millennium Group International — n 1998. “We also help acquire, train, appraise, and make sure employees are fairly compensated, while attending to their concerns about labor relations, health and safety, and fairness.”

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Book PR: The Essential HR Handbook [The Press Release]


Washington DC, September 8, 2008 — In 14th-century England, masons, carpenters, leather workers, and other skilled craftsmen organized themselves into guildsAithe first unions that were used to improve their work conditions. With the Industrial Revolution came divisions of labor, negotiable wages and hours, and challenging work conditions, and the owner was replaced by a new character, the boss, who was solely focused on getting the job done fast and right.

Conflict ensued and so the human resources industry was born to help set things straight, explain authors Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell in the introduction to their new book, The Essential HR Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource for Any Manager or HR Professional.

This 250-page reference guide, published in the fall of 2008 by Career Press, is a must-have for everyone who deals with employees on a daily basis, believe Mitchell and Armstrong. They wrote the book because, as human resource professionals with decades of experience, they wanted to shed light on the issues that keep managers up at night.

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WEBSITE — The Essential HR Handbook

Click image for larger view

Illustration and design by Michael Gibbs
Website coding / database by Max Kukoy
Writing / Concept by Hope Katz Gibbs

About The Essential HR Handbook / The Essential Performance Review Handbook

Created for human resources experts and authors Barbara Mitchell and Sharon Armstrong, “The Essential HR Handbook website is an easy-to-navigate website that focuses on the benefits of their backgrounds and useful guidebook.

The site also serves to illustrate the knowledge that both experts have developed in the field of human resources through articles and blog postings. And, the site helps to serve as a resource for those looking for HR experts to assist at their firms, for it profiles other professionals each month who work with Sharon Armstrong through her HR brokerage firm, Sharon Armstrong & Associates.

Both authors say they are pleased with the site and the effectiveness of the Inkandescent PR campaign.

“The best business decision I made this year was to call Hope Katz Gibbs. She listened, asked relevant questions, then offered expert guidance that reflects her wealth of knowledge about PR,” Sharon Armstrong says. “She offered invaluable recommendations to help my co-author and I get the word out about our new book and my consulting practice. Her work for us has resulted in increased book sales and more referrals for my business. Hope is creative, practical, and a delight to work with. She has terrific writing skills and incredible insights into an industry I knew nothing about. We couldn’t have done it without her.”


In the News: Sharon Armstrong featured in Washington Examiner article

WASHINGTON EXAMINER, Sept. 26, 2008 — Do you know what your references will say? In a Sept. 26 Washington Examiner article reporter Heather Huhman interviewed author and HR expert Sharon Armstrong about how to best handle the opportunity.

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In the News: Sharon Armstrong helps say "You're Fired"

WOMEN ENTREPRENEUR, August 15, 2008 — “One of the hardest things I’ve ever done as a business owner was to fire someone,” begins reporter Aliza Sherman for an article posted on She interviewed HR expert Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential HR Handbook, about how to soften the blow.

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