Portfolio questions (was Resumes and Creden

Subject: Portfolio questions (was Resumes and Creden
From: "Dave L. Meek's User Account" <dave -at- ROGUE -dot- DISCORP -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 1995 10:11:12 -0700

Mary Howe wrote:


And now I'm going to shift to a related topic. When I last wrote to the
list for advice, several people told me to put together a portfolio of
samples of my writing. What kinds of things are appropriate?

Having recently gone through the process of interviewing
candidates for a technical writer position, I'd say, "It
depends." What items are appropriate depend on what type of
technical writer position you are applying for. A business
software company might need someone to write user manuals. Other
companies might need reference manuals or online help or a
combination of things.

the employee handbooks and training manuals I've written should be
included. How about a form for meeting minutes I designed? Too trivial?
How about tables showing results of data analyses for the grant I'm
working on? How about forms I've designed for tracking data through our
system? These last three things are not exactly writing samples, but it
strikes me that they might be relevant. However, some of them need some
explanation for people who know little or nothing about this research.
Do I attach an explanation?

Again, it depends. If the position involves managerial
responsibilities, your forms for tracking data could be very

The next question concerns quantity. Is there a point at which the
portfolio becomes too huge and overwhelming for prospective employers to
look at? The handbooks and manuals are between 12 and 40 pages long.
How much is reasonable to include. Do I take single copies to show at
the interview, or do I make extra copies to hand out?

Our process involves a panel interview that includes
representatives from customer support and programming. At the
end, those folks leave, and the technical writers review the
candiate's writing samples in the candidate's presence. I
recommend you bring at least three different samples and enough
copies of them for every reviewer to have a separate copy. That
way, no one has to read over another's shoulder. And definitely
bring as many writing samples as you can that show your strengths
as a writer. If your interviewer(s) ask for more, you're
covered. If your interviewer(s) doesn't ask for more, then you
keep your samples in your portfolio. Another advantage of
bringing more samples than you probably need is that you will
probably cover a broader range of subjects. You never know what
types of documentation a reviewer will want to see. Better to
have more than you need than not enough.

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"Get a long little doggie!"

Dave Meek

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