re-working your writing for portfolio

Subject: re-working your writing for portfolio
From: R Greenberg <roxanne_98 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2000 14:36:09 -0800 (PST)

Last time I was job-hunting, I took a bunch of writing
samples from previous jobs (I had been a s/w engineer
prior to my current job, so the samples were of
in-house functional and low-level design specs I had
written), isolated the parts I wanted to show to
prospective employers, and then cleaned them up before
printing them out to put in the portfolio.

By "cleaned them up" I mean editing for typos,
spelling, and grammatical errors, and *also* for
sentence structure and even, in some cases, for
organization. (Since none of these pieces were very
long, the "organization" wasn't major, but I still
changed some of the presentation when I thought it
would read better.) In some cases, all I had was a
printed copy from an old job, so I re-typed the
desired sample into a different word processing
program and used a different font. I also changed the
layout slightly for some of them. In other words, I
did a lot of re-working on these samples.

I told a friend about this - she is a technical editor
and i had asked for feedback. I happened to mention
that these samples were all re-worked. She thought
that was ethically wrong - that I should be presenting
the exact material as it was when I completed it for
my job. My argument is that since I am the one doing
the rewriting, it is still my writing, and in fact the
cleaned-up sample more accurately reflects what I am
capable of doing *now* than some of those very old
pieces of writing. But she insisted that I was doing
something deceitful.

What do others think of this? Do you clean up or
update your old material (if you're showing pieces of
work - obviously you can't do that if you bring in a
published book)? As a hiring manager, would you be
offended to learn that someone was showing you work
that was different from what they had published
(assuming they had done all the changes themselves)?

Thanks again,

Roxanne

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