Re: Silly Job Prerequisites

Subject: Re: Silly Job Prerequisites
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 13 Oct 1996 21:13:06 PDT

There are only two problems with requiring familiarity with specific
tools when screening applicants:

1. Some of the skills that are demanded are easily acquired, and thus
having them already is of no real value. Interleaf, for example,
is an extremely complex documentation package, but a week of training
will leave you reasonably competent. Writing and editing, on the
other hand, cannot be picked up so quickly.

(While companies claim that they want someone who can be up and running
right away, they are willing to spend MONTHS looking for such people,
which goes well into the realm of lunacy.)

2. Most people learn their tools rather poorly. They have no training,
do not approach the product systematically, and certainly don't
read the manual from cover to cover. They are inefficienct and have
bad habits. If a good training program is available, it may be more
productive to train non-users to a high level of proficiency than
to retrain people who are comfortable with their current level of
hackery. Learning is so much easier when it involves no unlearning.

In areas of new technology, the supply of people with prior experience
is so small that any incompetent hack with the right credentials will
be in great demand. I remember the time I was turned down by Atari
for a game-design job because I didn't have three years' experience
in 6502-based assembly language -- about three and a half years after
6502-based products began to appear in the marketplace. Morons.
They might just as well have insisted on prior experience in programming
their PROPRIETARY game products.

Don't think this is a problem peculiar to writers. I've seen companies
self-destruct when applying these principles to engineers. By the
combination of hiring incompetent fools with the magic bullet items
on their resumes, and annoying the genuinely competent existing technical
team, a high-tech company can put itself out of business in short order.

-- Robert

Robert Plamondon, President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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