RE: Average Length of TW Resume

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

Mike West

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