Re: Writing Samples

Subject: Re: Writing Samples
From: Iain Harrison <iharriso -at- SCTCORP -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 26 Mar 1998 12:15:26 GMT

Martha Jane wrote:
I have to disagree with this. I have been a doc manager, and am now back
to being "just" a senior tech writer, which I must say I prefer. I have
evaluated many resumes in my day, and I would hesitate to hire any writer
who didn't have at least one sample beyond the resume.

My experience is just the opposite of John's. I've never been asked for a
sample by an HR person, but just about every manager I've interviewed with
has wanted to see samples, which I am eager to share.

I have also seen resumes from writers which really impressed me, and then
looked at samples which caused me to completely change my recommendation
about hiring those writers. It's absolutely true that the resume is a
crucial writing sample, but it's only one sample, which only shows one
style of writing, and which I would expect to be polished to the hilt.
Seeing other samples gives me much more information about the types of
things a writer has documented, the writer's attention to detail, and what
that writer considers an example of good writing, even if he/she didn't
write the whole thing.

Anyone else? Am I the only one who values writing samples to this extent?

I wholeheartedly agree with you. A resume is no indication of a
writer's ability: they are all too often mangled by agencies. They may
be entirely unrepresentative of the writer's abilities.

The ability to follow a house style may be important, and the battles
between competing egos over minor style and punctuation issues are to
be missed.

This does not detract from the vital need to be able to write well. A
good writer can write well in many styles, and a poor writer will be a
poor writer however tightly style guidelines are drawn.

In my view, anyone who would hire on the basis of reading a resume and
having not seen proper writing samples is risking too much.

Iain Harrison
iharriso -at- sctcorp -dot- com

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