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Hmm, I guess the situation might be different in the States
but I can imagine a company, for instance, considering hiring
a freshly-out-of-the-university rookie who does not have a technical
writing degree and who has not worked as a technical writer
before -- hence, no technical writing samples available.
Happens here anyway.
For instance, I got my present job when I was finishing my
studies in translation studies, although I also already had
a work background in miscellanous small-scale translation projects.
I could write, but didn't really have any technical background.
Well, I had worked in a project translating online helps,
but couldn't really bring them with me :) (plus as it was
translated, the structure and such would not have been my
When I applied for this job I was given two hours for the
writing test I described here earlier. I liked the test,
especially since I got hired, and it seems to have
worked quite fine on other people too. It seems to bring out
some essential things of the way the applicant thinks and
how they handle texts (important, as most of the stuff
we write we have to put together from some engineer
specs and such).
I can imagine some companies wanting to give an even more
thorough writing test and personally wouldn't mind taking one
when applying for a job, even though I had samples. I could
imagine a writing test brings out different things from an
applicant than samples.
Nokia Telecommunications/Network Management Systems