Re. Experience required [sic]: survival tips

Subject: Re. Experience required [sic]: survival tips
From: Geoff Hart <geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 09:14:07 LCL

In my experience, "experience with Software X required" really means
"if it comes to a choice between two equally qualified candidates,
we'd really rather not spend two weeks getting you up to speed". This
is fair and reasonable from the employer standpoint, but the operative
words are "equally qualified". If you're good, and can prove it,
they'll be willing to wait the two weeks.

Besides, here's a tip for the ethically impaired (mea culpa): Lie!
Anyone who's ever used a word processor can learn another word
processor in about an hour. Typing is typing is typoing [sic]. Send
your letter, claiming knowledge of WordExpert, then run down to your
local computer store or university computer lab and play with the
software to learn the fundamentals. This should take about an hour.
"Experience required" really means that you must be able to do the
following well enough to require no basic training:
- open, edit and save files
- modify and apply style sheets
- use the built-in revision tracking features.
(The advanced training will involve how that particular employer
implements their particular style sheets and workflow procedure; even
the "experts" will likely receive this training to help them fit in.)

Desktop publishing software is trickier, since the metaphors are
usually different among programs and since it's harder to find someone
who'll let you play with their expensive copy of the software.
Nonetheless, the same rule applies: I learned PageMaker in two hours
one weekend at work, and became expert (mostly) by using it to produce
several books in the following months. No one noticed that I wasn't as
good as I said I was, and pretty soon, I wasn't lying any more. For
DTP, you need to know the following basics:
- same features as for wordpros, plus importing and cropping graphics
and flowing text around them.
- how the metaphor differs from other DTP you've used.

To follow up on my previous posting re. job security, you will
definitely benefit from taking a course on any software you don't
already know. For less than $500, you can get a full day of expert
training, and sometimes two days; for much less, place an ad in the
computer section of the classifieds and offer $20 per hour to anyone
who will come to your home or invite you to theirs to tutor you. A
range of costs exists in between, with one really helpful source being
the "continuing education" office at your local college or university.
Two "freebie" hints:

1. ask a computer store (or software developer, if they have a local
office) to demo the software you're interested in at a chapter meeting
and offer discounts to anyone who buys the software at the meeting;
most will jump at the opportunity to give you their sales pitch. (Some
actually see this as a low-cost way to train their sales staff.)

2. Attend a big computer show and sit down at the appropriate booth
for half an hour while the attendant demos the software for you. Ask
for a few minutes to try out the software too; if things are going
slowly, the attendant will usually oblige.

--Geoff Hart =#8^{)} <---To Machiavelli is human, to forgive is
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca largely optional.

Disclaimer: If I didn't commit it in print in one of
our reports, it don't represent FERIC's opinion.


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