Re: Should we hire this guy?

Subject: Re: Should we hire this guy?
From: Jean Weber <jean -at- wrevenge -dot- com -dot- au>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 07 Jun 2000 07:46:11 +1000

I have worked on several projects where a technical person produced good stuff from the technical point of view, but wasn't so good on the writing, layout, and company style issues; and a good editor tidied up the writing, putting it into the company style and layout, correcting basic errors, and so on. The work went very quickly and the result was high quality.

If the engineer-writer is happy to work that way (and everyone sees the arrangement as a team effort toward a common goal, utilizing everyone's skills to best advantage, rather than a way of dealing with a "failing" or inadequacy on one person's part), then you can get good results with no ego-clashes. Most of the engineers I've worked with also quickly picked up the company style (and learned to differentiate commonly-confused or misspelled words) by seeing what I had done, and changed their style and word usage accordingly -- without any direct teaching.

I've also worked with the direct-teaching approach, which works well with some people and not at all with others, who seem to have some deeply-ingrained blind spots for certain errors. My belief is that if your normal editing processes cover for those blind spots, then there's no reason to reject a person who is otherwise suitable.

If you're hoping to teach this person how to write to your standards, then you might be disappointed. If you look at a team approach, then you might get very good results and eventually a good engineer-writer as well.

I think that many companies are short-sighted in not considering using several people on a job, rather than expecting one person (especially a junior) to be good at everything. Of course, if you can find someone with all the skills you need, that's great. But if you can't, then hire for the most important skills and cover for the rest. (If you don't need a full-time editor, there are plenty of freelancers and part-timers available.)

Regards, Jean
Jean Hollis Weber
mailto:jean -at- wrevenge -dot- com -dot- au
The Technical Editors' Eyrie http://www.wrevenge.com.au/
Avalook at Australia Travel site: http://www.avalook.com.au/


At 11:31 5/06/00 -0700, Dave Neufeld wrote:

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.

Therefore I've posted job openings at regional colleges and technical
institutes with technical programs that should provide the technical
background.

Here's the problem. Even the fresh, young graduates with English as their
first language are not good writers.





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