Business Communication


Recent Posts


Business Communication with Cengage Learning


  • LEGO Resume Lands an Internship

    An aspiring advertising intern created a LEGO version of herself in an suit and sent it to prospective employers. Northwestern University student Leah Bowman posted a picture of her creative resume on Imgur. Images of the LEGO rendition appeared on 11" X 17" posters with slogans such as, "Build the perfect Account Service intern" and described her skills. Bowman said that the design responded to an agency's call for a persuasive ad. She wrote on Imgur, "I wanted to stand out to employers, so I made a LEGO set of myself in my interview suit and sent it out to my dream advertising agencies." She also explained her strategy to Mashable : "Looking for a job can be a bit frustrating at times. I've applied for dozens of jobs and had a handful of interviews, but sometimes there's just another candidate that edged you out. I know I'd be a great addition to any team, but I needed a better way to communicate that rather than just sending in a boring resume." Her strategy worked: she got an internship in account management at Omnicom's Energy BBDO , an advertising firm based in New York City. Discussion Starters: Someone on Imgur commented, "And then you found out that employers would rather you just be normal." What's your opinion of this comment? Consider the discussion of creative resumes in Chapter 12 of the textbook. If you were an employer and had received this, how would you perceive the applicant? Assess Bowman's description of her skills on the poster above. How well does she describe her job qualifications? What could she improve? On one poster, Bowman wrote, "Build the perfect Account Service intern." Should she have capitalized the job title?
  • A Handwritten Job Ad

    Advertising agency Solve has a new—and old—way of inviting interns to apply for jobs . In a handwritten letter posted around college campuses, Solve asks interns to submit a traditional cover letter and resume by mail. Emphasizing "genuine connections" and a "personal, straightforward" approach, the agency describes its rationale: "Valuing substance over silliness, Solve refuses to ask candidates to condense resumes into 140 characters, present themselves via fake campaign or funny videos, or answer irrelevant nonsensical questions. Rather, Solve is simply asking for a resume and cover letter…to be sent (via mail) to the agency." Discussion Starters: What's your view of the agency's campaign: refreshing, as gimmicky as a tweet, or something else? I'm having trouble reading the letter. Is it just me? The letter asks prospective interns to mail in their cover letter and resume. Would you submit something typed or handwritten? The letter has a fairly major grammatical error. Can you find it?
  • More Data on Social Recruiting

    The Society for Human Resource Management published a new study confirming much of what we know about social recruiting and offering some surprising data, too. It's no surprise that most of the 651 respondents, whose job includes staffing, use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter—in that order—to find "passive" job candidates. This is consistent with other survey data in the past couple of years. Eighty percent of respondents use these sites; those who don't cite legal concerns, such as finding out someone's age. A surprising 57% of companies don't have policies in place for using social networking sites to screen candidates, and 72% have no intention of establishing a formal policy within the next 12 months. Image source . Discussion Starters : Why don't companies have a policy for screening candidates online? What are the potential drawbacks of creating a policy? What are the potential ethical considerations of screening candidates on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter? How do these three sites differ as screening tools?
  • Tweet for Jobs

    We know that "social recruiting" is increasingly common, with 73% of employers responding to a Jobvite survey reporting that they have hired someone online. But how does this work on Twitter, through which 15% of the 73% had hired someone? The Wall Street Journal published an article that explains some of the recruiter's and job seeker's perspective. As funny as it seems to tweet your qualifications within 140 characters, more employers are encouraging people to respond to job postings on Twitter. Boston network-infrastructure firm Enterasys tried this approach and found success. The company's chief marketing officer said, "I am fairly certain I am going to abandon the resume process. The Web is your CV and social networks are your references." Other employers report following prospective candidates to evaluate their interactions. And in many situations, although the initial contact happens via tweets, candidates include links to more substantive resumes and social media profiles. One optimist, Kathryn Minshew, founder of career website , said that the tweet is "the new elevator pitch." Discussion Starters: How optimistic are you about companies' recruiting via Twitter? How could you see publicizing your qualifications and career interests on Twitter? What are the potential downsides for you personally and professionally?
  • 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?
  • A Resume to Set You Apart

    Philippe Dubost is one clever web product manager. Rather than producing a boring, print resume or an overwhelming online resume, he designed his to resemble an Amazon product page . The resume has attracted a lot of attention, leading him to post an "Instant update" on his Amazon page: "Hi everyone, thank you so much for the overwhelming (and unexpected!) nice feedback! I'll share what happens on twitter ." Dubost also has appeared on news programs to talk about his "Amaz-ing" resume. When asked why Dubost has so many one-star reviews, he tweeted: " lots of ex-girlfriends." Here are two other recent attempts to get noticed on the job market: A woman listed herself on eBay. A man launched a website ( and pitch video. Discussion Starters: What's your view of Dubost's resume? Gimmicky, clever, or something else? What risks would you be willing to take to get hired? For what industries or type of positions would this approach be most and least effective?
  • Student's Bold Cover Letter Gets Surprising Results

    A business communication instructor would not likely advise a student to write "feed you a line of crapp [ sic ]" in a cover letter, but for one student, the approach seemed to get good results . Calling your university "average," offering to "fetch coffee," and admitting to having no "special skills"— these are not compelling reasons to hire a job candidate. But the letter has been forwarded among colleagues at financial firms, and the comments are positive. Some call it one of the best cover letters they have ever seen. Wow. The email comments are surprising, with investment banking managers apparently chomping at the bit to interview the student. Still, I can't say that I'll encourage students to use phrases like "would love nothing more than to learn from your tutelage." Tutelage? Discussion Starters: What's your reaction to the cover letter? Why would banks, as traditionally conservative companies, be interested in meeting this student? What risks are you willing to take with your own employment communications? What would you consider over-the-top?
  • 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?
  • Study Compares Honesty on LinkedIn Profiles and Resumes

    A new Cornell University study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking reveals that undergraduates are more accurate in describing work experience on their LinkedIn profile than on their resume. However, they are more deceptive in describing their hobbies. The public nature of LinkedIn makes it easy to verify falsifications. Imagine connecting with your previous boss on the site, only for her to see a job title that doesn't exist or responsibilities you didn't do. This is good news for employers wanting to check applicants' resumes and may be one reason that 48% of employers say they do so before making a hiring decision. But according to Jamie Guillory , the study's lead author, students on LinkedIn "still found ways to make themselves look better" and took more liberties when describing hobbies, which are harder to verify. About 92% of students exaggerated or omitted information at least once on LinkedIn or their resumes, with students making these decisions an average of three times. Discussion Starters and Assignment Ideas: Are you more truthful on your LinkedIn profile than on your resume? In what ways? Where you we cross the line between exaggerations and lies? What would you consider unethical? Give a few examples to explain your thinking. Identify any potential exaggerations or omissions on either your LinkedIn profile or on your resume. What are the potential consequences if this information is discovered to be false? In retrospect, is it worth the risk? Swap resumes with a partner. Choose a few items—work experience, activities, or interests—and interview each other. Ask specific, pointed questions to try to verify the information. Do you uncover any potential issues with how the information is described? What, if anything, will you change on your resume as a result of this process?
  • New Study: Social Media Posts Can Make or Break a Hiring Decision

    Previous studies have shown that people involved in the hiring process search online for candidates. A new study by Reppler confirms that 91% search Facebook, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn before making a hiring decision. This study gives us good and bad news about the results of these searches. Although 69% of hiring managers or HR representatives have rejected a candidate because of what they saw posted, 68% have hired a candidate for the same reason. The study reminds us that smart candidates post positive information about themselves online. Click on the infographic at right for more detail about the survey responses. Assignment Ideas: Google yourself and see what you reveal. Are you well represented on the web? Do you want to change anything to improve your online reputation? Create a LinkedIn page if you don't already have one. To bolster your online reputation via LinkedIn, add connections, provide more detail in your profile, and join professional groups.
  • Volunteer Experience Could Land You a Job

    A recent survey has convinced LinkedIn to add a new field to online profiles: "Volunteer Experiences & Causes." According to the survey of 2,000 professionals, 41% of hiring managers believe that volunteer experience is just as valuable as paid experience, and 20% of hiring managers have made hiring decisions based on a candidate's volunteer work. Eighty-nine percent of the survey respondents had performed volunteer work, yet only 45% of them included this on their resumes, feeling that they didn't want to exploit the community group -- or because they didn't think about including the experience. Volunteer work could give you skills and experience that employers want: teamwork, interpersonal skills, sales and marketing, and more. So why not include this on your resume, particularly in a tight, competitive labor market? Discussion Starters: Do you currently list volunteer work on your resume? Why or why not? Will you add it now that you see how much it is valued by employers? What are the downsides of including volunteer experience on your resume? Looking back on your volunteer work, what competencies (skills, knowledge, or abilities) do you believe the experience developed that might be useful in your career?
  • Good Job News for IT Professionals

    Despite the depressing economic news, tech hiring is booming. How does a $50,000 sign-on bonus sound? Trips, parties, and perks are in full force to lure potential candidates to technology companies such as Yammer and Dreamforce. For tech professionals, the unemployment rate is merely 3.3%, considered full employment by some. Jobs in high demand include "cloud computing engineers, security experts, and mobile developers as well as sales professionals in the technology industry" according to a BusinessWeek article. Some cities are seeing tremendous growth in tech jobs; tech hiring in Detroit, for example, has grown 66% as automakers use more sophisticated technology in cars and require specialized skills. Discussion Starters: How can technology job seekers distinguish themselves in this competitive market? How can you explain the boom in tech jobs when the rest of the economy isn't faring so well? Which perks do you consider most effective in attracting candidates to jobs? Which, if any, would be most likely to convince you to take a job?