RE: Googleability and portfolios

Subject: RE: Googleability and portfolios
From: "Andrew Warren" <awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com>
To: "D. Michael McIntyre" <michael -dot- mcintyre -at- rosegardenmusic -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 7 Feb 2007 12:15:31 -0800

D. Michael McIntyre wrote:

> > Any prospective employer or client who Googles your name might
> > come across these harmless messages and leap to an unfortunate
> > misunderstanding.
> Does that ever actually happen?

Yes. From Employment Digest:

Nearly eight in 10 executive recruiters use search engines,
such as Google and Yahoo!, to check backgrounds online,
according to a survey by ExecuNet Inc., an executive job
search and recruiting company. Of those, 35 percent have
eliminated a job candidate from consideration based on what
they found, up from 26 percent a year ago.
( )

> I only have three work-for-hire pieces to put in my portfolio,
> but Google links to a substantial portion of the writing I've
> done over the years.

Yeah. In your case, the Google thing works in your favor.

> I've been wondering whether I should try to incorporate some of
> this in making a case for myself as a writer, and how I might go
> about doing it. I have a story to tell, but I have to tell it
> carefully, so as to make a compelling case for myself in spite of
> my lack of relevant formal training or education.

Pfft, you think too much. I don't think you need to "tell your
story carefully" at all.

The techwr-l list often advises aspiring writers to build up their
portfolios by documenting open-source software. You did that and
became a frequently-consulted expert in the subject along the way,
and your work was good enough to be published and to receive
reviews like "The writing style is familiar and non-technical,
accessible to any reader regardless of expertise." [See? Google
DOES work in your favor.]

You don't have to "make a case for yourself as a writer"... Dude,
you already ARE a writer.

If you can do the job -- where that doesn't only mean "write",
but also includes things like fitting in with the corporate
culture, playing well with others, learning to use the
appropriate tools, etc. -- you can get the job.

> Nobody ever advertises for a BA in anything, let alone Spanish.

Nobody ever advertises for nuclear-submarine experience, either,
but Gene found a job somehow...

> Then there's the "So why have you been doing a job any high school
> dropout could handle when you have a college degree?")

Ok... So why have you been? And what's the big deal, anyway?
You're no worse off than anyone else who's never had a techwriting
job, and EVERY ONE of the currently employed techwriters in the
world was at one point someone who'd never had a techwriting job.

Besides, the vast majority of authors have day jobs. Yours paid
the bills while accommodating your writing; what else is required?

You've been making an honest living for ten years while writing
in your spare time. You've discovered that you enjoy the writing
more than the other thing, plus it turns out that you're good at
it, so now you're ready for a change of direction: You want to
write full-time. I don't see a need to tiptoe around ANY part of
that story.


=== Andrew Warren - awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com
=== Synaptics, Inc - Santa Clara, CA

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