RE: Advice for Job Seekers

Subject: RE: Advice for Job Seekers
From: Sheldon Kohn <Sheldon -dot- Kohn -at- onlineinsight -dot- com>
To: "'TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM'" <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2000 15:24:12 -0400

Hello All,

It is interesting that this topic came up. Recently, I have been reviewing
resumes and conducting interviews of recent and proximate graduates for an
opening we have for a technical writer. Based upon my own experience as a
hiring manager, I have a few suggestions for people trying to land their
first job:

* Do include a cover letter and realize that this is the first writing
sample you will be submitting. In the letter, explain why you are interested
in THIS job at THIS company and show how you are prepared.

* Spend some time reviewing job search sites and books. You should be
prepared for typical questions such as, "What are you looking for in a

* You should never go for an interview without at least reading the
material on the company's Web site. Be able to ask intelligent questions
about the company, and you will impress the interviewer.

* Resist the temptation to expound in your answers. If the interviewer
asks what classes you liked and why, it is not necessary to go into great
detail about why you like Keats, although he is certainly somewhat lesser
than Byron, but possibly equaled by Mary Shelley, though of course one
should never overlook Blake's influence, indirect though it was, etc. It
seems that people holding a BA/BS come out of school a bit to eager to
expound. It is better to be seen as thoughtful than scattered.

* Try to treat the interviewer as if he or she is also an interesting
person. Do not assume that this person is too old or too dumb to be able to
have any interests or ideas. In several recent interviews, I felt as if the
candidate were being somewhat condescending. If you act like working in a
company is something you might have to settle for, though not what you would
prefer, you will not get the job.

* Do not focus on what you want the company to do for you to the
exclusion of detailing what you will do to contribute to the team. As a case
in point, I had an interview in which the person said that she was basically
looking for something to do until applying to graduate school next fall and
would not mind doing some tech writing. I am not eager to hire someone who
wants to stop and visit for a while.

* Remember that the person doing the interviewing would not be talking
with you at all if he or she was not interested in your potential to join
the team. In this market, there are a lot of opportunities, and it is hard
to find a good person. The person doing the interviewing has a need, and it
is your job to show how you fit the bill.

Of course, this is all my subjective opinion and falls under the category of
FWIW. If anyone is interested in discussing this further, please feel free
to contact me directly.

Welcome to all the new graduates. We really need your help.

Sheldon Kohn
Online Insight, Inc.

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