TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:RE: Average Length of TW Resume From:"Michael West" <mwest -at- oz -dot- quest -dot- com> To:"TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Fri, 31 Mar 2000 13:06:29 +1000
Erick Kandl wrote
> This brings up an important point in interviewing for a new job: How
> do you show your writing skill if you cannot show samples? A person
> can talk about what they did and how they did it, but what happens
> when the interviewer asks to see your work? It seems that a
> prospective employer takes a huge risk in hiring someone
> without first
> seeing what they are capable of producing. How do you get around that
> or what is your alternative to actual client samples?
I rely very heavily on samples as a way of assessing a candidate's skill
level -- more heavily, in fact, than anything else except for a writing test
I give them.
If you don't have any old samples that are no longer sensitive, you might
consider disguising your samples by scrambling product names and keywords. I
can still tell whether a person can write and format a document properly even
if I can't tell what they are writing about. You can make up keywords.
Instead of "How to spin straw into gold", you could write about "How to flip
a flogget" -- it wouldn't make a bit of difference in my ability to see how
well you organize and present information.
If even that is not possible, consider inventing something to write about! Or
write a couple of chapters of a How-To manual for a commercial or shareware
product. I don't care what the topic is -- it's YOU I want to know more
And on a related point (fraudulent claims) -- yes, I can tell whether a
candidate was actually involved in the production of a particular piece of
work. I know what to look for, what questions to ask, and how to get
verification from referees or co-workers (when that is feasible). There may
be some phonies out there, but it would be a mistake to assume that samples
are not a very important clue to a person's talents and abilities. If a
ringer slips through, don't worry: it won't take me long to discover the
truth about the person's skills. (Even in the case of a phony, at least I can
find out what the person would LIKE to have done, and even that is useful