Re: Resumes and writing samples

Subject: Re: Resumes and writing samples
From: Ed Hoornaert <Ed -dot- Hoornaert -at- VENTANA -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 1995 09:23:44 -0700

Shelly La Rock asked:

>how many of you who are in charge of hiring would give a tech writer's
>resume a second thought if there weren't any writing samples included?

I would, definitely. Here in the Tucson area most of the apps I receive
do NOT include writing samples, by a very large margin. (80%? 90%?)
Having said that, however, most of those who do include writing samples
are new graduates without a proven track record, so they are trying to
show that they can string words together coherently. A writing sample
can prove this.

As much as possible, I try to look for the steak rather than the sizzle.
In other words, has the person demonstrated the inclination and ability
to be a superb learner and communicator? Does the person have experience
with any of the software, skills, and concepts (group dynamics,
facilitation skills, etc.) that our company deals with? An article
about, say, a medical breakthrough, might not go too far to convince me
to hire a person -- although I read the samples, and usually find them
fascinating.

(BTW, it seems to me that teaching experience is so closely akin to
technical communication that I pay a lot of attention to it.)

Before hiring a writer we have the finalists come to the office for 1-2
hours to produce a writing sample based on a standard topic. That way we
can compare the candidates evenly, and can compare a new applicant's
work with that done by someone who worked for us years ago. So resumes
and even interviews are simply screening devices, and the writing "test"
is the clincher.


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