Re: What Defines "Entry-Level"?

Subject: Re: What Defines "Entry-Level"?
From: Matt Livesey <matt -at- CURASOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998 13:41:29 -0700

Eric writes:

>Liberal arts people (in the absence of other influences)
>tend to approach business situations with a rather optimistic
>viewpoint--the approaches are more pie-in-the-sky,
>more idealistic, and more interesting. However, if you're
>really trying to get a job, think business:
>Minimize risk, maximize return on investment.
>Sell yourself in these terms.

I would simply add this: the best business decision (the one that minimizes
risk) is one that someone else has already made.

When I made the move from getting my PhD in English last year to technical
writing (those student loans are strict taskmasters, even in a slack
academic market) I sent out resumes by the dozen that focused on my skills,
my familiarity with applications, my experience in a wide range of
non-academic settings. This approach succeeded in inspiring precisely no

It was only when a sympathetic recruiter suggested that I take a class in
technical writing "to increase my marketability" that the answer came to
me. No, I didn't enroll in a writing class--having just completed my
dissertation, and having taught writing for five years along the way, I
wasn't about to start that all over again. What I did was realize that I
needed to state my qualifications in terms that would allow business hiring
decisions to be made *safely* in my favor (that's what "minimize risk"
usually means: "minimize my exposure to blame if things fall apart").

So, I restructured my resume a little. I added up all of the years that I
had done freelance writing and editing and various other things to pay my
tuition, and put right up top: X years editing experience. Y years writing
experience. Z years teaching writing at the college level. And so on.

Within two weeks I had two recruiters sending me on interviews, and and
within another three I had accepted the job I'm still happily doing. The
bottom line: as Eric says, the ability to sell oneself often outranks
actual experience when looking for jobs; given that fact, the best way to
sell yourself is to make the person deciding whether to hire you feel that
giving you a job is the most practical, efficient, and prudent course of
action to take. And welcome to the world of business.

Another quick word of advice: when I needed to hire another technical
writer, I contacted several recruiters, and received a blizzard of resumes.
I also posted a message to this list. Guess where the person we hired came
from? A resume sent as a result of a posting to this list is pre-qualified,
because it comes from someone who knows how to keep current with the

Best of luck to the job-seekers among us,


Matthew J Livesey, PhD
Publications Manager

CuraSoft, Inc. The Innovators in Automated Event Management
39355 California Street, Suite 301
Fremont, CA 94538-1447
Voice: 510.795.6100, ext 20 Fax:510.795.6109

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