FW: Technical writing tests?

Subject: FW: Technical writing tests?
From: Cassandra Greer <cassandra -at- greer -dot- de>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2003 08:47:53 +0100


HI All!

> I was quite interested in the thread about writing tests. Two comments in
> particular caught my eye.
>
> Geoff Hart suggested, "Then pay them for their time. (Honestly... US$25-$50
> is trivial.)"
>
> and John Posada asked, "Really? And they do it? Without billing you for
> creating a deliverable?"
>
> I've never taken a test during an interview, but if I did, I can't imagine
> asking (or expecting) to be paid for it. Has anyone ever been paid for
> taking such a test? Is that a common thing?
>
> Kelly Smith

This has never happened to me for tech writing contracts (I haven't done
that many yet) but in the world of translation, it is not uncommon to be
paid to do a sample translation, especially if the translation is not some
commonly used text. I consider it a sign of respect on the part of the party
in search of services.

(On a side note, in Germany if you audition for a part in a movie or show,
you get paid a small amount, regardless of whether you get the part or not.
I once turned up at Bavaria Film Studios to audition for a part only to find
that the part had already been given away - but I still got 20 DM for
showing up (this was 18 years ago, maybe the fee has gone up, maybe I should
try again :D ). I have no idea if they do this in the States).

Anyway...

I personally would

1) find it nice to have the opportunity to create something that could even
possibly be useful to someone (I am very practical in that respect - I hate
tests that only test my test-taking ability - what a waste of time and
resources) and at the same time 'strut my stuff'.

2) be impressed by the company who would value the time of the applicants
enough to reimburse them for attempting to produce something useful under
what are most likely stressful and unfamiliar circumstances (which in the
end may not be that far off the mark in terms of actual work environment,
i.e. the stress factor at any rate).

I also find the temp-to-perm solution a really good idea (I do see a
difference between hiring a contractor as such and then offering that person
permanent employment later). This is how I became Head of Documentation for
a software company once. In this way both sides really get to know the other
without the commitment factor. It does require that both parties have a
certain level of maturity, esp. if it doesn't work out.

Cass :)



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