Welcome to BizComBuzz, the blog with weekly posts dedicated to providing business communication instructors with useful content to bring right into the classroom!

The Scoop contains short, timely blurbs you can discuss with students and colleagues.

Featured Articles explores issues affecting pedagogy, business communication, and classroom technology in more depth. 

News You Can Use condenses timely business-related news items and provides questions to generate lively classroom discussions.

Classroom Exercises offers case studies and writing technique assignments ready to download.

Join the discussion with The Guffey team and share your thoughts on BizComBuzz. We want to hear from you! E-mail us at info(a)bizcombuzz.com

Submit Job Applications Early in the Morning… No Callback? Fix What Went Wrong… Body Language Speaks Volumes

Submit Job Applications Early in the Morning

You’ve proofread the job application until your eyes are bleary. You’re ready to send. STOP.

Don’t submit unless it’s a Tuesday from 6:00-10:00 a.m. in the hiring company’s time zone.

The timing of when you submit an online job application has a great deal to do with landing an interview, according to research by TalentWorks, a job-search startup. The researchers found that candidates who submitted their applications in the 6-10 a.m. window were five times more likely to score an interview, and those who sent in their applications earlier in that time frame received more offers for interviews than those who waited until closer to 10 o’clock.

The research also showed that after 10 a.m., the likelihood of landing an interview dropped by 10 percent every half hour. By 7:30 p.m., the chances of getting an interview fell to just three percent. Responding quickly was another indicator of success. Applicants who submitted within 96 hours of the original job posting were eight times more likely to be offered an interview.

The bottom line, the researchers found, is that timing may not be everything, but it sure helps.

From Payscale

No Callback? Fix What Went Wrong

That post-interview elation—knowing you nailed every question and had great rapport with the interviewer—can quickly turn sour if you don’t receive a call back and later learn you didn’t get the job.

While the circumstances that lead to not be hired are often beyond your control, you can improve your interviewing skills by following these pointers:

  • Research the organization’s culture. Employers want to hire people who will fit into their organization’s ethos. Investigate the company’s values and culture before the interview so you can convince the interviewer you’d mesh well.
  • Emanate confidence. Discuss your successes and be prepared to discuss specifics that highlight your skills.
  • Ask questions, but only the right kind. Avoid questions about salary and benefits but do ask about the qualities common to successful new hires.
  • Brush up on your video interviewing skills. Many first interviews are conducted through video-chat services. Practice in front of a mirror and choose a setting that makes you appear professional.

Experts also offer advice about what kinds of traps to avoid when interviewing. Using language that is overblown (awesome! incredible!) or lackluster (possibly… I might…), claiming to have no weaknesses, making excuses, or overexplaining can kill your chances of impressing a hiring manager.

From The New York Times

Body Language Speaks Volumes

The way you present yourself to the world—especially as a professional—will affect the way others perceive you. To show yourself in the best possible light, avoid these damaging body language habits:

  • Appearing uninterested or distracted. Not paying attention is insulting. Resist the impulse to check your phone!
  • Fidgeting. Even if you are jittery, stay still. Fidgeting makes you appear nervous and powerless.
  • Frowning or not smiling. A glum face can appear aloof and off-putting. Smiling telegraphs confidence and warmth.
  • Giving aggressive looks. A long stare will make the recipient feel uncomfortable. Instead, meet someone’s eyes for a heartbeat or two. for long glances.
  • Making poor eye contact. Averting your eyes demonstrates disgust or timidity.
  • Playing with hair. This bad habit is distracting and shows you are under stress.
  • Poor posture is not only bad for your health; it can suggest a lack of confidence.

From Business Insider

Succinct Summaries

[Instructors: Download the exercise and its solution at the end of the post.]

The ability to condense information into a format that preserves the original meaning but does so in fewer words than the original is an important skill in professional writing. Summarizing is not linear; it does not simply reduce the number of words in each paragraph. Instead, good summaries produce a thoughtful but streamlined and abbreviated version of an original.

To write a summary, follow these steps.

 

  1. Read the original carefully and look up any words you do not understand. Note key words or phrases.
  2. Isolate the selection’s main idea, which is the primary point the author is making
  3. List the ideas that support the main idea. Try to do this from memory so you are not tempted to use the exact wording from the original. You may find it helpful to limit each idea to one bulleted point.
  4. Reread the selection to be sure you have a good understanding of its overall meaning.
  5. Write the summary in your own words.

Keep these points in mind as you write:

  • Start with a topic sentence that states the main idea clearly.
  • Include only essential information such as names, dates, facts.
  • Eliminate nonessential information such as examples and some descriptive details.
  • Use transitions to link ideas and to unify the summary.
  • Arrange the sentences in the most logical order for a reader who will come to the summary with no prior knowledge.

Using the selection below, write a summary of about 100 words.

“Acid rain” is precipitation with a high concentration of acids. The acids are produced by sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and other chemicals, which are created by the burning of fossil fuels. Acid rain is known to have a gradual, destructive effect on plant and aquatic life.

The greatest harm from acid rain is caused by sulfur dioxide, a gas produced by the burning of coal. As coal is burned in large industrial and power plant boilers, the sulfur it contains is turned into sulfur dioxide. This invisible gas is funneled up tall smokestacks and released into the atmosphere some 350-600 feet above the ground. As a result, the effects of the gas are seldom felt immediately. Instead, the gas is carried by the wind for hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles before it floats back down to earth. For example, sulfur dioxide produced in Pennsylvania at noon on Monday may not show up again until early Tuesday when it settles into the lakes and soil of rural Wisconsin.

Adding to the problem is the good possibility that the sulfur dioxide has undergone a chemical change while in flight. By simply taking on another molecule of oxygen, the sulfur dioxide could be changed to sulfur trioxide. Sulfur trioxide, when mixed with water, creates sulfuric acid—a highly toxic acid. If the sulfur trioxide enters a lake or stream, the resulting acid can kill fish, algae, and plankton. This, in turn, can interrupt the reproductive cycle of other life forms, causing a serious imbalance in nature. If the sulfuric acid enters the soil, it can work on metals such as aluminum and mercury and set them free to poison both the soil and water.

Damage from acid rain has been recorded throughout the world, from the Black Forest in Germany to the lakes in Sweden to the sugar maple groves in Ontario, Canada. The result is a growing concern among scientists and the general public about the increasing damage being done to the environment by acid rain.* (334 words)

Suggested Solution

Acid rain is a worldwide problem that concerns scientists and the public. Acid rain is caused by burning fossil fuels. The worst acid rain comes from sulfur dioxide, which is a byproduct of burned coal. When coal is used in large power plant boilers, it emits sulfur, which is carried thousand of miles by the wind. Sulfur dioxide undergoes a chemical change to create sulfur trioxide, which, when mixed with water, becomes highly toxic sulfuric acid. This acid can upset the ecosystem and poison water and soil. Because acid rain knows no borders, it is a global problem. (98 words)

Succinct Summaries Exercise

Succinct Summaries Solution

*From Writer’s Inc.

Intended for classroom use only–posting or wide distribution with authors’ permission only (c) The Guffey Team, 2018

Businesses Scurry to Address Sexual Harassment

The tsunami of sexual harassment claims since media mogul Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace has prompted many businesses to examine the ways in which they deal with workplace misconduct.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. And while many organizations provide sexual harassment training and have policies on the books to deal with reported cases, victims of the unwanted advances have been slow to come forward until now. As accusations from across the workplace emerge—including government, entertainment, and industry—organizations are taking action to prevent more harassment from occurring.

Vox Media has hired an outside firm to review its sexual harassment reporting procedures. Uber has added staff to deal with reports of misconduct. House Speaker Paul Ryan has called for House members to provide sexual-harassment training for their staff.

Even companies that so far have not experienced incidents have made moves. Dell, Rockwell, and Facebook are encouraging employees to attend training sessions meant to identify biases that can lead to sexual harassment. Boardroom directors—who typically do not deal with sexual harassment unless an incident requires their input—are taking proactive measures. A former CEO for Reuters, who sits on several boards, says organizations should not wait for “grotesque” examples of sexual harassment before checking their own corporate culture.

However, worries about overkill are emerging. Some men have become intimidated enough to avoid conversations with female co-workers, which could keep these women from learning about important job-related opportunities.

Nevertheless, the systemic culture that has excused egregious behavior seems to be under the microscope, and that’s good news for all involved.

Discussion

  1. Aside from firing sexual harassers, what can organizations do to promote a workplace free of such behavior?
  2. Should coworkers who witness a colleague being harassed proactively report the situation to authorities?
  3. What can be done to eliminate the tacit tolerance of sexual misconduct?
  4. Why do companies fire problematic workers or managers almost instantly after allegations surface instead of waiting to exercise due process under the law which means that an accused is innocent until proven guilty?

From the Wall Street Journal