From the category archives:

Business/Tech Writing

Signal v Noise

by Dr Davis on October 27, 2012

This is something I think I will share with my business writing students–the re-design of a website, explained and illustrated in process.

The Typography and Layout behind the new Signal vs. Noise redesign
Mig Reyes wrote this on Oct 19 / 63 comments

We’ve been sharing our process and company values on Signal vs. Noise since 1999. It’s where we’ve planted the seeds for Getting Real and REWORK. And for many readers, it’s their first taste of 37signals. Yet, we haven’t given the look and feel any serious attention since 2005.


Writing Cover Letters

by Dr Davis on July 22, 2012

I haven’t taken the advice on how to write a cover letter given in this blog post at Sell Out Your Soul, but it sounds intriguing.

I think it would be a good idea to share with my Business Writing students. Perhaps yours could benefit as well.

The main issue is, cover letters often ask the employer to take risks with their resources. That should not be done.


What Hiring Managers Really Want to Know

by Dr Davis on February 10, 2012

A post from 99%.

Ability to deal with ambiguity?

Go to the post to read more.


Visual Persuasion

by Dr Davis on January 12, 2012

A two-fer. Two useful posts/pages from Tempered Radical.

These are important for my classes, both FYC and Business Writing. So I thought they might be relevant for you too.

First, Visual Persuasion resources, links, and information.

Then, PowerPoint can be better. 5 Tips for Creating PP Slides that Won’t Bore Your Audience

However, with the proverb “A word to the wise is sufficient” in mind, I will quote Presentation Zen:

One thing we need to constantly remind ourselves is that slides and other forms of projected visualization—no matter how “cool” they may be—are not appropriate for every context. Multimedia is great for presentations before large groups such as keynote addresses or conference presentations, but in meetings where you want to actively discuss issues or go over details in depth, slides—especially the snooze-inducing bulletpoint variety, which are never a good idea—are almost always counter productive.


Notes for Business Writing

by Dr Davis on January 10, 2012

6 Things Interviewers Are (or Should Be) Looking For

Something to think about.


20 Creative Resume Designs

by Dr Davis on January 9, 2012

Some crazy stuff. Does it work?

20 Creative Resume Designs


For Business Writing

by Dr Davis on January 4, 2012

20 Resume Tactics to Avoid

Too often, job seekers get overly creative or personal with their résumés in order to make an impression, but irrelevant information and goofy details can be perceived as unprofessional and may cause the résumé to be rejected on the spot.

Some of them were particularly poor choices. For example:
“Candidate included that he was arrested for assaulting his previous boss.”

Others were particularly odd choices.
“Candidates — a husband and wife looking to job share — submitted a co-written poem.”

Some were the result of poor editing.
“Candidate said that he would be a “good asset to the company,” but failed to include the “et” in the word ‘asset.’”

Some were clearly lacking professionalism.
“Candidate’s email address on the résumé had “shakinmybootie” in it.”

All of them were actually done. All of them sunk the candidate.

These are the kinds of things we need to make sure to talk about with our business writing students. Sometimes they too can’t tell the difference between “catching attention” and “going down in flames.”


For Business Writing Class

by Dr Davis on December 4, 2011

You bet. Want to see some students snap to attention? Tell them that in the professions, in management, where they want to be, it’s the rare boss that will let them do C work or even B work, over and over. It’s A work every day, or they can be replaced, and especially these days.

I tell students that and let them know that I was a late-life Ph.D. who hired — and fired — for decades, first. And then I tell them about as many as five hundred applicants even for internships, all those cover letters and resumes to sort, a process in which I sometimes assisted, because I can spell, punctuate, etc. First, yes, out went any with errors, typos, etc.; that usually cut the stack by more than half. The rest were sorted by GPAs, because we wanted reliability, and students who don’t show up and don’t turn in work don’t get good grades. Then the boss looked at the top twenty-five — maybe, if he had time, or I did so — to pick ten to check their credentials, references, and writing samples to narrow the field to five for interviews. Of those, in a good year, two got internships. Often, only one did so. And you bet they had to do A work every day.

from ProfTowanda on the CHE fora


Writing with Complaints is Viewed as Positive

by Dr Davis on November 23, 2011

Aggarwal explains that visitors to corporate websites or employee blogs do not expect to see anything but positive commentary on company products and services. Critical commentary is seen as reflecting the integrity of employees and honesty and openness from the company about their products or services, he said.

from Live Science’s post “Disgruntled Employees Can Be Good for Business.

So students need to learn to write 80/20 or 85/15… It’s an interesting idea.


One Reason English Teaching Matters

by Dr Davis on November 22, 2011

I became an English professor because: EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW HOW TO WRITE. I did not become a history professor because not everyone can benefit from knowledge about what has happened in the past. Some people just don’t get it.

But everyone needs to know how to write. Writing is communication and communication is essential.

Don’t believe me? Okay. Believe social marketing guru Seth Godin.

In his post How to get A Job with a Small Company he says:

Learn to write. Writing is a form of selling, one step removed. There’s more writing in business today than ever before, and if you can become a persuasive copywriter, you’re practically a salesperson, and even better, your work scales.

3. Learn to produce extraordinary video and multimedia. This is just like writing, but for people who don’t like to read. Even better, be sure to mix this skill with significant tech skills. Yes, you can learn to code. The fact that you don’t feel like it is one reason it’s a scarce skill.

Learn to write.
Learn to produce extraordinary video and multimedia.

THAT is what I am teaching in my fyc. THAT is what my students need to be learning to get a job, have a career, and support a family. It may be what they need to be able to eat.

Is learning to write about more than a job? Absolutely. But it does help to be able to put food on the table if you can get a job. I remember when I didn’t always have food on the table. I don’t want my students to have those kind of memories, for themselves or for their children.

I need to make sure I also include this in my business writing class.