Re: Samples Query

Subject: Re: Samples Query
From: cchris -at- toptechwriter -dot- us
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 2004 09:31:14 -0600

Hi Michele,

Forgive me if this is belaboring the obvious, but as I understanding it,
the problem is that your work as a graphics designer got in the way of
finding work as a technical writer.

My take on hiring graphics designers vs. technical writers is that
designers are creative, so a certain amount of eccentricity is acceptable
(maybe required?). As an extreme example, if a graphics designer showed up
for an interview in jogging clothes, he would still get a job if his
portfolio was spectacular enough, since creativity is in short supply. But
when it comes to tech writers, the last thing I want when I interview
someone is eccentricity. It's a question of judgment really, a tech writer
who showed up for an interview in sloppy clothing would not be hired
regardless of portfolio because he showed a lack of professionalism.
Technical writers aren't usually hired for their flashing genius and
creativity, they're hired for their knowledge and ability to explain
complicated subjects; so eccentrics need not apply.

Now, I realize that these distinctions are completely subjective, but I
don't think they're unreasonable based on my experience. I've been working
as a tech writer/graphics designer for many years and have samples on my
site, but since I mostly do tech writing, I cherry pick my graphics design
samples to avoid anything that might be controversial (meaning anything
that has to do with sex, politics, or religion). By doing that I'm not
self-censoring or being someone I'm not, I'm simply taking away potential
barriers to my getting hired as a writer. Those two companies that pinged
you for posting your calendar probably weren't sexist or prudish by
policy, they just had extremely narrow-minded people doing the hiring.
Both companies lost out on a good candidate because a couple of
hypersensitive interviewers were offended by something you weren't even
aware was an issue. Their loss, but it was yours too--the trick is to
avoid such situations entirely.

Robert Heinlein wrote that the difference between bad and worse is much
sharper than that between good and better, so when you're trying to prove
that you're a better candidate than a crowd of "good" writers in a market
where good is deemed good enough, you handicap yourself at the outset by
doing or saying things that are controversial. If you can't bear to delete
good but potentially dicey graphics design samples, I'd do what someone
else recommended and create a site that showcases your design talents.

Award-winning technical writing and illustration services.

> Interestingly enough the "creatives" (media, publishing, even real
> casual medical companies) all were fine with it. What's odd is that the
> one company that said I made a poor judgment call to show it asked me
> "Who was the photographer?" I said "A guy that does construction FT."
> and the man replied, "This must've made his day."
> BUT this is a company that rated me. They gave me 4 out of 5 for
> technical expertise (SQL, Oracle, etc) and a 1.87/5 for personality
> (owing to my "lack of judgment") Where did they get 1.87? What kind of
> math is that? There were three male interviewers, one of whom told me
> his sexual orientation on the way to the interviewing room.
> Weird. Weird. Weird.
> --
> Michele
> and the uber empyre


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