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:Should we hire this guy? From:Dave Neufeld <Dave_Neufeld -at- spectrumsignal -dot- com> To:TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Mon, 5 Jun 2000 11:31:34 -0700
Our company is hardcore high tech and we're interviewing potential
candidates. My audience are hardware and software developers who make nifty
telecom and signal intelligence stuff with our DSP hardware and support
software. In other words this stuff does not make to the shelf of Office
I've come to the conclusion, that this type of writing demands a technical
background. All our current writers have at least 2 years of technical
education in engineering or computer systems. I've got 4 years of hardware
and software education behind me, plus work experience, and this stuff makes
my brain hurt and my eyes glaze.
Therefore I've posted job openings at regional colleges and technical
institutes with technical programs that should provide the technical
Here's the problem. Even the fresh, young graduates with English as their
first language are not good writers.
My question is: Could/should I hire this potential writer based on this
evaluation of his writing for a course project. Bear in mind that technical
writing is a "new" career option to him...
Some GOOD things that were promising:
-Sentences are typically short, direct and often in the active voice
-Instructions begin with the main verb and convey one thought
-He is not verbose
Some UNUSUALLY BAD things that scare me:
-Several common words are repeatedly misspelled, such as "choos",
"paramaters", "consol", and "immitate"
-A few sentences don't make any sense at all
Some NORMALLY BAD things that most non-occupational and some professional
writers do. These can be corrected with a TW course and by following the
-Lack of quality in the imported graphics
-Frequent use of the future tense; active, present tense is the de facto
mode of writing user documentation
-Poor page layout and design
-Many awkward sentences
-Occasional run-on type sentences
-Needs to refine level of detail. Should be increased a bit
thanx for your time,
dave_neufeld -at- spectrumsignal -dot- com
Spectrum Signal Processing, Inc.