Re: Writing Samples

Subject: Re: Writing Samples
From: "Staples, Lorrie" <Lorrie -dot- Staples -at- NEXTEL -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 12:31:14 -0500


I can relate to what you're going through. In 1994 I was laid off from
a Contracts Analyst position that I'd held for 5 years with a computer
networking company. I'd done all kinds of procedural and contract
verbage documentation for the Customer Support Organization for the
associated support contracts base that I maintained. I had also created
all the documentation for my position for an ISO9000 audit that I'd
passed with flying colors.

I found out about Technical Writing from a technical writer that I
befriended at a new company where I had taken a "contractor" support
position doing various odd administrative tasks (aka, a job to pay the
bills while I found something else . . .). She had several projects
that I helped her to accomplish & in so doing, discovered that I had
similar experience doing the same work she was doing and in some cases,
because of my administrative background, was even able to provide her
with solutions to project dilemmas she was handed.

What did I do to transition & sell myself as a Technical Writer?

Well, the first step was a total revamping of my resume to change it
from sounding more "administrative" to highlighting my "documentation"
experience. With her help, we referred to everything using the *buzz*
words that the resume filters would pick up. It took several revisions
to get this right (i.e., send your resume to recruiters & see if you
have any results, etc., then send them revisions based on their comments
- - or lack of response <grin>). Your best bet is, if you have any
Technical Writing associates, have them help you with this.

The second step is to gather together ANY and ALL documentation you've
written, including the sports article - - you never know when this will
come in handy(!). It shows you are a multi-faceted person and that
documentation is important to you in more situations than just at your
job. In my case, I had created several of the monthly newsletters for
the non-profit organization, Parents Without Partners, so I included
those in my portfolio. I also included spreadsheets I'd created for
freelance work I'd done for extra income during my layoff period. This
was helpful because, my type of technical writing position is very
solutions-oriented - - depending on what is required, I create all kinds
of documentation "on the fly".
Additionally, I also had the obstacle to overcome of not having brought
any significant documentation I'd created in the Contracts Analyst
position I'd held (I didn't know about Technical Writing when I was laid
off, so why would I want all that stuff?? <grin>). So, working with
what I did have for documentation from there (documents on floppies,
etc.), I recreated proximations of things I'd done there. No, it didn't
have the company logo on the pages, but when I included that in my
portfolio I'd give an explanation that I hadn't been allowed to bring
contractual documentation away from the company when I left their
employ. The interviewers were always impressed that I'd taken the time
to recreate documents so that I would have something to show them.

Just keep in mind that, if you can get into that first "official"
Technical Writing position, the rest will follow. I've done it!! After
working as a contractor for 2 years at various companies, I was hired as
a contractor for Nextel on a year's contract. Six months into my
contract here, they offered to hire me permanently. Since then, Nextel
has allowed me to "run" with my creative mind, developing all the IT Ops
documentation standards and associated webpages for the intranet. They
just made my responsibilities official by *promoting* me (no money, just
more responsibilities - ha! isn't that always the case??) to Lead
Technical Writer for all the technical writers who report to the various
subgroups that make up IT Ops. It can be done!

Hope this helps! The transition is hard, but you sound like you're
heading in the right direction. You've also found a *wonderful* source
- - this tech writer's group!! I've only been on here a couple of
weeks, but I've already seen a lot of benefit from it. I've been
printing off the "how to" advice & am building a reference binder.

Have a great day!!

Lorrie Staples
NEXTEL Communications
IT Operations - Brookhollow
678/291-3544 (Desk)
770/560-2636 (iDEN - digital, wireless)

-----Original Message-----
From: Jean Ann Harrison [mailto:harrison -at- SOFTBRIDGE -dot- COM]
Sent: Tuesday, December 29, 1998 11:25 AM
Subject: Writing Samples

I've gotten some great advice, thanks again.

I do have some writing samples as I do write procedures in my current
position of technical support. These writing samples involve one
paragraph to several pages of documenting various ways to use my
product. I've also written procedures on how to do something in a sport
that I am very active. These procedures involve explanation of how to
position your body in various positions with appropriate timing. I
included these particular writings as they do not involve anything
the technology field. However, I have considered including them in my
portfolio as these samples are very technical. Explanations of physical
movement and timing of those movements have to be precise in order for
readers to understand and replicate on their own. By the way, the
is figure skating. The question I have, do I include these writings in

Jean Ann Harrison


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