RE: FW: Other handshakes?

Subject: RE: FW: Other handshakes?
From: "Jane Carnall" <jane -dot- carnall -at- digitalbridges -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002 11:30:27 -0000

>>"If everything was manually formatted in MS Word, they certainly got
several strikes against them. They weren't immediately eliminated, but
it didn't leave a good impression. Resumes directly reflect how the
writer makes decisions regarding layout and organization. If a writer
puts everything in tables to manage the appearance, and the result looks
great, then it's to their credit."

So, if your resume contained what we were looking for, then we'd
probably bring you in for an interview, unless we had enough candidates
who otherwise were your equals and had better formatted resumes. My
advice would be to find a copy of Word, spend an hour applying styles
and effecting any other clean-up to your resume, and, as they say, Bob's
your uncle. DB.<<

And in fact, in the specific instance I think you were describing - CVs sent
in directly to your department from the company's website, where presumably
"resumes in MS Word" were explicitly specified, I agree with you: when you
*know* how your CV is going to be seen by the potential interviewer, and the
interviewer is the manager/team leader of the technical writing team, it
only makes sense to make it the best you can. (And I take it that you spell
this out on your recruiting webpage.)

But most of my interviews have (so far) been via agencies, and I don't trust
an agency not to mess with my CV. So I make my base CV as simple as
possible: the less fuss, the less muss, so to speak. I include lots of
buzzwords in my CV so that it will get past Human Resources, too. I keep my
CV very short and simple (2 sides of A4) so that it doesn't get dismissed by
someone in the process chain for being "too long to bother with". I'd do
differently with documents that I knew were going to be viewed directly by
the department/team with whom I'd be working, but IME my CV is not one of
those documents - before it ever gets to someone who can judge it on
technical merits, it usually has to pass through at least two hoops (agency
and HR). Even then, quite often, I'm being interviewed by someone who knows
a lot less about MS Word than I do - if I'm hired by a development
department, usually all they want to know is that yes, I have 8 years
experience using MS Word as a technical writing tool, and then they go off
into the more important stuff: do I understand processes, how quick am I at
picking up new technology, can I work well with developers, etc.

I did once have an interview where the tech writing manager asked me very
seriously "Can you convert Word to RTF?" and appeared to take it as a
measure of my technical skill that I said, as seriously, "Yes, I can."
Turned out the entire department used WordPerfect, and most of them -
including the manager - had never ever used anything else...

Unless the company says what its standards are in advance (in which case it
would be foolish to disregard them) or unless you've worked for them before,
you do not know what their standards are. "Never get involved in a land war
in Asia, and never go up against a Word maven when styles are on the line!"

Jane Carnall
Technical Writer, Digital Bridges, Scotland
Unless stated otherwise, these opinions are mine, and mine alone. Apologies
for the long additional sig: it is added automatically and outwith my


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RE: FW: Other handshakes?: From: Darren Barefoot

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