Business Communication


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Business Communication with Cengage Learning


  • Emails Plague NJ Governor Christie

    Emails obtained by The New York Times provide convincing evidence that the New Jersey Governor's office caused traffic problems as political retribution. One of Chris Christie's aides sent emails to David Wildstein, a high school friend of Christie who worked for the Port Authority that controls the George Washington Bridge. The New York Times describes the political context and related messages: "The mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, is a Democrat and did not endorse Mr. Christie. In the emails and texts, Mr. Christie’s staff and appointees appeared gleeful when the abrupt lane closings gridlocked the town for four days , beginning with the first day of school and including the anniversary of Sept. 11. Mr. Sokolich, who had not been informed of the closings, texted Bill Baroni, the governor’s top appointee at the Port Authority, asking for 'help' because the lane closings were making children on buses late to school. "'Is it wrong that I am smiling?' Mr. Wildstein texted Ms. Kelly. "'No,' she texted back. "I feel badly about the kids,' he texted. "'They are the children of Buono voters,' she said, referring to Mr. Christie’s Democratic opponent, Barbara Buono, who was trailing consistently in the polls and lost by a wide margin." References to "the kids" relate to children who were late to school because buses were delayed on the bridge. The emails and texts are making it difficult for the governor to continue denying his office's role in lane closings. Wildstein and another Port Authority official resigned in December. Discussion Starters: So far, Christie is not commenting on the emails and texts. How should he respond to the controversy? Christie's staff used personal Gmail accounts and text messages to communicate. Why weren't these safe from exposure?
  • CEO Criticizes Stilettos

    The CEO of health care company Kanteron Systems tweeted about women wearing high heels at business meetings. With the hashtag #brainsnotrequired, Jorge Cortell seemed to imply that stilettos pictured in his tweet aren't appropriate for work. In return, he was criticized for sexism . In a Wall Street Journal blog post , "Are Stilettos Too Sexy for Business Meetings," the author described the result: "The two-day tweet-convo slid from sublime to ridiculous when Mr. Cortell argued that he wasn’t referring to sex at all. Heel wearers are dumb because heels are unhealthy for their feet and backs, he tweeted, repeatedly, until Twitter briefly suspended his account." In his posts, Cortell denied sexism and focused on health issues of high heels: The WSJ author accused Cortell of "wimping" out, both in his subsequent tweets and in an email response to her: "If he had stood his ground, I would have stood with him. Five-inch-high platform stilettos call to mind the fetishistic footwear of a cabaret performer. If not quite hooker heels, they are nonetheless best paired with fishnet nylons, a sultry voice, and champagne for two. "In a business setting, platform stilettos are the female equivalent of a man wearing his shirt unbuttoned to his clavicle underneath his suit jacket. "Yes, we see them at venture capital conferences and in offices and even board meetings. But let’s not pretend they’re conservative business footwear. Twitter seems to agree. The social media service on Wednesday labeled Mr. Cortell’s heels photo 'sensitive content' – requiring many users to click a permissions button to view it." Discussion Starters: What's your view of wearing stilettos at work? When would they be appropriate and, perhaps, when would they not be appropriate? Do you consider Cortell's initial post sexist? Why or why? How well do you think he recovered from the criticism?
  • Food Truck Employee Gets Fired for a Tweet

    Unhappy about not receiving a tip, a food truck employee let loose on Twitter : Employees at Glass Lewis & Company, a consultancy specializing in corporate governance, ordered $170 worth of grilled cheese sandwiches and milkshakes but didn't leave a tip. Brendan O'Connor, the Milk Truck employee, chronicled the incident on his blog: "I was making sandwiches, another worker took the order and a third made the milkshakes and watched the grills. A line grew while we worked, and we had to tell other customers that their lunch orders would take longer than usual. They paid; I asked my co-worker who was dealing with the money how much of a tip they’d left. They had left actually no tip at all. (They had paid with a card so we checked the cash tips to see if there’d been a bump. There hadn’t.) "I asked some of the group as they were picking up their orders if they had intended to not tip. They hemmed and hawed and walked away. "Well. I could have not said anything. I could have made it a subtweet. I probably should have made it a subtweet. But I didn’t, because of some misguided notions about having 'the courage of your convictions,' or whatever." O'Connor explains that he was fired by the owner after someone from Glass Lewis complained about being "tip-shamed." O'Connor's argument is that his employer uses social media feedback to monitor employees' performance, so why shouldn't he use social media to "advocate for a more civil exchange between worker and consumer?" Well, no companies want their customers embarrassed publicly, and many have policies in place to this effect. Milk Truck managed to restore its credibility with an apology tweet, accepted by Glass Lewis: But Twitter is still abuzz with the ethics of the situation. Did Milk Truck do the right thing by terminating O'Connor? Was O'Connor's tweet justified? Does Glass Lewis owe an apology? What's your view? Images source .
  • Good Grammar Improves Job Prospects

    A study by Grammarly examined 100 LinkedIn profiles and found that good grammar improved job prospects: "Professionals with fewer grammar errors in their profiles achieved higher positions. Those who failed to progress to a director-level position within the first 10 years of their careers made 2.5 times as many grammar mistakes as their director-level colleagues. "Fewer grammar errors correlate with more promotions. Professionals with one to four promotions over their 10-year careers made 45% more grammar errors than those with six to nine promotions in the same time frame. "Fewer grammar errors associate with frequent job changes. Those who remained at the same company for more than 10 years made 20% more grammar mistakes than those who held six jobs in the same period. This could be explained in a couple of ways: People with better grammar may be more ambitious in their search for promising career opportunities, or job-hoppers may simply recheck their résumés between jobs." One-hundred is a small sample size, but the results aren't surprising. In another survey , 11% of employers who checked applicants' social media posts did not hire them because of "poor communication skills." I might assume that included poor grammar. Although few spelling mistakes were found on LinkedIn profiles, probably because of the spell-check feature, careless and grammatical errors could be a dealbreaker for your future employer. Image source . Assignment Ideas: Review another student's LinkedIn profile. Do you find any errors? If so, how does this affect your opinion of him or her as a job candidate? Look at your Facebook page, if you have one. If you were a potential employer reviewing the page, what would be your impressions? Consider making changes to these sites and other social media spaces that employers may visit.
  • More Creative Ways to Job Hunt

    Finding a new job is getting more and more social—and bizarre. A social media strategist posted an ad on Facebook and received "multiple offers." Ian Greenleigh , author of The Social Side Door: How Social Media Has Rewritten the Rules of Access and Influence , tried a second experiment. Billing himself as a "Future Googler," he targeted current Google employees for his next Facebook ad. Forty-eight clicked on the link. One in six job seekers say that social media helped them get their current job. "Social resumes" today go beyond having a LinkedIn profile. Rather, they represent your entire online presence. On the other hand, creative tactics don't have to involve technology. One inventive marketing professional distributed resume chocolate bars to potential employers. Facebook ad image source . Resumebar image source . Discussion Starters: Which of these ideas might you try? What are the risks of each? What other creative approaches have you taken to search for a job?
  • Resume Trouble for Yahoo's CEO

    Did Scott Thompson purposely misrepresent his degree on his resume, or was it, as he says, an " inadvertent error "? In a recent regulatory filing, Thompson's qualifications included a Bachelor's degree in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College. However, Stonehill didn't start its computer science program until the early 1980s, and the school's records indicate that Thompson earned a"Bachelor's of Science in Business Administration (Accounting)" on May 20, 1979. This major also is conveyed on Stonehill's website: Yahoo is at a crucial point now and is relying on Thompson to move the company forward. According to The Wall Street Journal , someone close to the company said, "Maintaining him as CEO of Yahoo at this time is more important than whether he had a computer science degree or not." In response to the controversy, Yahoo issued this statement: "Scott Thompson’s degree at Stonehill College was in bachelor science in accounting. There was an inadvertent error that stated Mr. Thompson also holds a degree in computer science. This, in no way, alters that fact that Mr. Thompson is a highly qualified executive with a successful track record leading large consumer technology companies. Under Mr. Thompson’s leadership, Yahoo! is moving forward to grow the company and drive shareholder value." Thompson also sent an email to Yahoo employees, trying to keep everyone "focused": Discussion Starters: How do you assess the controvery over Thompson's resume: career-ending misrepresentation, innocent mistake, or something else? If you were a member of Yahoo's Board of Directors, how would you handle the situation?
  • World's Longest Rejection Letter

    How would you like to get a 3,000-word rejection letter with a "42-point plan to help job seekers"? If you were one of 900 applicants for a writing job at, you may have received it. Sean Gunther, the author of the rejection letter, thought he was being helpful, but the letter is long and confusing. For starters, it's unclear whether the receiver was rejected. It isn't until the end of the second paragraph that readers are told (sort-of) where they stand: "Those of you who are passed into the second round of consideration will be hearing from us soon, if you haven't been contacted by us already." In an article, "Here’s How to Condescend to 900 Job Applicants With a 3,000-Word Rejection Letter, " Gawker blasted the email as "arrogant" and called the writer worse names. Gunther responsed to Gawker's criticism by saying that some applicants appreciated his advice. He quotes the following from one of the applicants: "I read your email this morning, and to be honest, I was a little irritated at first. I didn’t particularly want to know that there were 900+ applicants for the position. The email looked lengthy, and I wasn’t sure where you were going to go with it. For sure, it didn’t say that I was hired. "I gradually realized that this is the sort of advice that every writer looking for work should read. I don’t think I made many of the mistakes that it mentioned, but I do I wish I had read it years ago. It’s also a rare thing that people applying for work should get anything out of it at all, especially something so useful." Gunther defends his letter compared to other rejection letters: 'Applicants learn nothing about their approach when the only response they receive is 'Thanks for applying, but the position has been filled.'" Discussion Starters: What do you think of Gunther's approach? How do you think you would feel if you received the letter? Read the entire letter, including his suggestions. Which are useful, and which are not? Considering that the letter caused some hard feelings, what could have been a better approach, if Gunther sincerely wanted to help job applicants?
  • Facebook Profiles Predict Job Performance?

    According to one study , a person's Facebook page can predict job performance more accurately than some personality tests. For the study, conducted by Northern Illinois University, the University of Evansville, and Auburn University, one faculty member and two students looked at Facebook profiles of 56 undergraduate students. The Wall Street Journal summarizes the results: "After spending roughly 10 minutes perusing each profile, including photos, wall posts, comments, education and hobbies, the raters answered a series of personality-related questions, such as 'Is this person dependable?' and 'How emotionally stable is this person?' "Six months later, the researchers matched the ratings against employee evaluations from each of the students' supervisors. They found a strong correlation between job performance and the Facebook scores for traits such as conscientiousness, agreeability and intellectual curiosity. "Raters generally gave favorable evaluations to students who traveled, had more friends and showed a wide range of hobbies and interests. Partying photos didn't necessarily count against a student; on the contrary, raters perceived the student as extroverted and friendly, says Don Kluemper, the lead researcher and a professor of management at Northern Illinois University." Although employers may be intrigued about using Facebook as a screening tool, lawyers caution against making decisions that could be perceived as discriminatory. This is particularly an issue because employers can easily determine sex, race, religious beliefs, age, and other factors on a Facebook profile. This is a small study, but the findings are interesting and may lay the groundwork for more research. Discussion Starters: Do you agree with the study findings? Why or why not? How do you think a prospective employer would view your Facebook profile? In addition to potential discrimination claims, what are other reasons that employers may want to avoid looking at applicants' Facebook profiles?
  • Interns: Big Job Opportunities with Facebook and other Companies

    Failing to hire and retain enough full-time employees, several technology companies are hiring more interns . Dropbox, for example, will hire three times as many interns this summer as last, and interns will make up one-third of the company's engineering team. Google will hire more than a thousand interns this summer, while Facebook plans to hire 625. According to a Wall Street Journal article , with the "try before you buy" philosophy, many companies are stepping up their intern programs and offering $10,000 for the summer—not a bad cushion for the upcoming fall semester. As a new strategy, venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is now recruiting Engineering Fellows for its clients. The encouraging news about increased intern hiring, as most students know, is the increased probability of a full-time offer. As a representative of Google says, most of its interns receive full-time offers. ( Image source: WSJ , "Tom Greany, 23, a full-time software engineer at Bump Technologies, was originally a summer intern at the company.") Discussion Starters: How are you approaching your intern search? What has worked successfully for you, and where do you need help improving your prospects? What are the possible disadvantages of accepting a full-time offer with a company where you interned after junior year?
  • Wall Street Firms Get "Chilly Reception" at Top Schools

    Are the Occupy Wall Street protests having an effect on college recruiting? According to a Bloomberg Businessweek article , Goldman Sachs has cancelled some campus visits, including one to Harvard last week. Protesters, such as this group in downtown New York , have been targeting Goldman, asking the investment bank to pay more taxes (among other demands). The Occupy Harvard group was active in November, as shown in this video: The Bloomberg article paints a picture of "strained friendships" about the issue, with some students protesting recruiting sessions, while others come to learn about job opportunities. Goldman Sachs has been quiet about the Occupy movement, while Morgan Stanley denies any serious ramifications from the Occupy protestors. A spokesperson for the firm said, "We have not changed our recruitment activities, and we have not seen any impact on attendance." But a Harvard Crimson survey tells a different story: About 22 percent of Harvard 2011 graduates who planned to enter the workforce were headed into finance and consulting, down from a high of 47 percent in 2007, according to a Harvard Crimson survey published in May. Half the students entering those fields said they would have chosen to work in other professions if salary weren’t a concern. Discussion Starters: In what ways could the Occupy movement affect your search for a job in business? What do you think of Goldman Sachs' no-response strategy to the Occupy movement? How do you assess Morgan Stanley's response?
  • Apple's Anti-Leak Social Media Policy Gets Leaked

    Although many social media policies are available online , until yesterday, Apple's was not. Last month, an Apple employee was fired ("sacked" to the British) for Facebook posts that the company claimed violated its social media policy. Now, that internal policy has mysteriously been leaked. One analysis of Apple's policy compliments the conclusion, which is sound advice for anyone: In sum, use your best judgment. Remember there may be consequences to what you post or publish online including discipline if you engage in conduct that Apple deems inappropriate or violates any Apple policies. If you’re about to post something and you are concerned whether you are following these guidelines or any Apple policy, please discuss it with your Leader or HR before posting. But the attorney takes issue with what the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) may call the right to concerted activity: Respect the privacy of your coworkers. Blogs, wikis, social networks and other tools should not be used for internal communications among fellow employees. It is fine for Apple employees to disagree, but please don’t use your external blog or other online social media to air your differences. Recent cases brought by the NLRB have criticized employers for terminating employees who may be engaging in protected concerted activity (or the right to organize). Read about an NLRB case. Image source. Discussion Starters: Read Apple's social media policy (scroll down). What seems reasonable and, perhaps, unreasonable to you? Compare Apple's policy to another available online . What differences do you notice, and how do you account for them? What was the policy where you worked recently? Did you find that people generally followed the policy or worked around it in some way?
  • How Not to Get a Job: Hack Into a Company's System

    A Hungarian man wanted a job so badly that he hacked into Marriott's computer system and threatened to release confidential information unless he got hired. To discover the identity of the man, a Secret Service agent posed as a Marriott HR representative, and the company booked a flight for the hacker to come for an interview. Of course, the interview wasn't what the hacker, Attila Nemeth, expected. On Wednesday, Nemeth pleaded guilty and now faces up to 15 years in prison. Marriott is not unscathed either: the company estimates spending between $400,000 and $1 million in consultants' fees, employees' salaries, and other expenses to solve the crime. Discussion Starters: Review the ethical decision-making guidelines in Chapter 1. In addition to the illegality, what tells you that Nemeth's behavior is unethical? Some people will do anything to avoid a behavioral interview. What are some behavioral interview questions that might be appropriate for an IT professional?
  • Employer Backlash: "I will never hire a Penn Stater"

    Among the many online letters to the editor of Penn State's Daily Collegian is a sharp backlash from a potential employer. Some worry that Penn State students may have difficulty finding jobs because of the recent sexual abuse scandal and riots. In an open letter on Penn State's website, the senior director of career services provides guidance to students during the job search and encourages employers to keep an open mind. Discussion Starters: Do you agree with employers who may resist hiring Penn State students? Why or why not? What is the best way for Penn State students to address questions from prospective employers? Do you find Jeff Garvis's advice in the letter helpful? In Garvis's letter, which arguments do you find most and least convincing for employers? If you look closely at Garvis's letter, you see what look like font changes within the paragraph that starts "Students may acknowledge." [ Download ] If these are editorial changes, why do you think they were made? Do they improve the message?
  • College Students Value Social Media Access at Work (Some More than Salary)

    Employers, take note: according to a new Cisco study ,"The ability to use social media, mobile devices, and the Internet more freely in the workplace is strong enough to influence job choice, sometimes more than salary." The New Workplace Currency report, which surveyed 2,800 students and young professionals, gives clear guidance to employers who want to recruit top talent. Fast Company reports, According to the report, 40% of college students and 45% of young professionals would accept lower-paying jobs if they had more access to social media, more choice in the devices they could use at work, and more flexibility in working remotely. More than half of the college students surveyed indicated that if an employer banned access to networks like Facebook at work, "they would either not accept a job offer from them or would join and find a way to circumvent." The report is interesting but not all that surprising, is it? Discussion Starters: What is most and least surprising from the report? (See full infographic .) From an employer's perspective, what are the downsides of offering the choice and flexibility that new workers want? As a job seeker, what is important to you? Which of the report's findings reflect your own priorities for a new job? During a job interview, what do you think is appropriate to ask regarding social media and mobile devices? What would you ask at a second rather than a first interview?
  • Employee Quits Marriott Accompanied by a Marching Band

    Some employees like to go out in style -- and embarrass their employees while doing it. Fed up with his job at a Marriott Hotel, Joey DeFrancesco brought a marching band with him to tell his boss that he quit. Why waste time writing a boring resignation letter to just one manager when a " Joey Quits " video can be viewed by over 2 million people within 10 days? According to Joey, "The working conditions in the hotel are horrendous." He had more to say to CBS News . Apparently, some of the YouTube comments were getting annoying, so he added this note, "I have another, better job already. So stop talking about that and worry about your own jobs." A Marriott spokesperson confirmed that Joey had worked at the Marriott Renaissance in Rhode Island for three years and made this statement: "You know that we take employee satisfaction very seriously as a company - creating a sense of community and pride within our hotels is a top priority. The Renaissance Providence actually has a number of employee programs in place that encourage health, wellness and employee satisfaction. While this is an unfortunate way for an employee to resign, we are confident that hotel management works closely with staff to continue to find ways to make the hotel a rewarding place to work for everyone." Discussion Starters: After watching the video and reading the background information , do you sympathize more with Joey or with the hotel? Why? How credible do you find Joey? How do you assess his credibility? Evaluate the Marriott spokesperson's response. What is effective and ineffective?