How do you respond to job ads?

Subject: How do you respond to job ads?
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 10:34:36 -0500

Hi all,

I've been hiring writers lately. I rely mostly on responses to a
classified ad I place in the local paper. The ad lists the skills I'm
looking for, requests work samples, and gives e-mail and snail mail
addresses for submitting credentials.

I'm encountering the following curious things:

1. Most people aren't sending the requested work samples. When they're
omitted, there's never an explanation as to why.

2. People submitting credentials via e-mail typically skip writing a
cover letter. They write something like, "Here's my resume in
application for your open Technical Writer position" and attach the
resume. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I like to receive cover letters
because they can give me insight a resume can't.

3. Resumes I receive via e-mail usually look terrible. Text-file resumes
have awkward line breaks. Resumes in Word format suffer from Word's
"feature" of flowing text based on the selected printer. Some people
even use nonstandard fonts that I don't have on my machine. Word
substitutes other fonts and whatever good effect the applicant was
trying to achieve is lost.

I'm disappointed by these things because it seems to me that technical
writers should know better. When I apply for jobs, I either follow the
instructions or explain why I'm not following them. (For example, I
never give salary information. I explain why.) I always write a cover
letter to augment my resume. I always make sure my resume will be clean
and readable when received.

I'd be obliged if you could answer a few questions for me, to help me
understand these phenomena and, if necessary, change my approach:

1. Am I right in thinking that technical writers should "know better?"

2. When a job ad asks for work samples, what would keep you from
submitting them? If you wouldn't submit them, would you explain why not?
If you wouldn't explain, please tell me why.

3. When applying for a job via e-mail, do you write a cover letter,
either as a separate file or in the body of your e-mail? If you don't,
why don't you?

4. When applying for a job via e-mail, how do you prefer to attach a
resume: as text in the e-mail body or as an attached document? What
steps do you take to ensure the resume is clean (no unintended line
breaks, etc.) at the receiving end?


jim grey \ Documentation Manager
Made2Manage Systems, Inc. \ jgrey -at- made2manage -dot- com

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