Re: Writing Samples and Confidential/Internal Use Publications

Subject: Re: Writing Samples and Confidential/Internal Use Publications
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 08 Oct 2005 08:47:29 -0400

Karen wrote:

Most of the writing I have done in the past is
internal documents for a large IT company. 99%
indicates confidential, proprietary, and/or internal
use only--whether it really needed it or not.
Seven years, one company, straight out of graduate
school and then downsizing occurred.
How do you handle sending writing samples to potential

You inform potential employers that all of the writing you did on your previous job was covered by a nondisclosure agreement (you did sign one seven years ago, I'd wager) and consists of confidential company documents that you do not have permission to share. No reputable company wants to hire someone who would violate company confidentiality, and you don't want to work for a company that would ask you to.

I have edited the documents to take out references to
fictitious company names (lots of Widget USA in there
now.) Then, I take the most benign documentation that
I think everyone in the world would know so that
nothing could be considered proprietary. After that, I
take a 10-15 page sample that includes prose,
drawings, tables, flowcharts, etc., and create a PDF
to send for a sample.

Not good enough. Submit any such samples to your former employer for review by their attorneys. Do not submit them to potential future employers until you get permission in writing to do so. In all likelihood you will not receive permission. So don't hold your breath.

How do you get around the
confidential/proprietary/internal use issue?

I don't "get around" confidentiality agreements.

However, if you prepared any material that was _published_ (literally, made public) with a copyright notice, you _may_ be able to use such pieces as samples. The restriction would be that if the materials were distributed only to customers, under nondisclosure agreements, you cannot use these, either. This restriction would apply, for example, to manuals distributed with enterprise software.

In other words, if you wrote a manual that anybody can walk into CompUSA or Barnes & Noble and purchase off the shelf, you can use it. If you wrote marketing materials that anyone can request a copy of, you can use that. If you wrote ads that were published in trade magazines, you can use them.

Otherwise, explain the circumstance and submit samples of material you wrote as an undergraduate.


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Writing Samples and Confidential/Internal Use Publications: From: Karen

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