Re: How do you respond to job ads?

Subject: Re: How do you respond to job ads?
From: Cheryl Magadieu <cmagadieu -at- NETWAY -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 12:15:20 -0500

Jim Grey wrote:
> 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?"
Yes, I think tech writers should know better. As communication
professionals, they should be aware of the opportunities for persuasive
and informative writing, such as cover "letters" in e-mail messages.

> 2. When a job ad asks for work samples, what would keep you from
> submitting them?
I've never responded to an ad that asked for work samples. (I'm not
avoiding those types of postings; I just haven't seen an ad that seemed
like a good fit and asked for samples.) Although I would probably send
in work samples if an ad asked for them, I wouldn't hold much hope for
getting the job. I feel that if a recruiter asks for work samples, the
recruiter is likely to choose candidates whose samples clearly fit the
type of work the company does. I'm a Master's degree candidate in tech
writing, so I have a few documentation samples from school. However, I
don't know how relevant they are to the companies I'm applying to. I
prefer to show samples in person so I can explain how and why I created
them, get feedback from the recruiter, and try to persuade the recruiter
that my lack of on-the-job experience is offset by my ability to obtain,
organize, and present information. The feedback helps me address any
concerns the recruiter might have about my experience or lack thereof.
I'd also be hesitant to submit samples by mail because I wouldn't be
sure which format to use. I'd prefer to submit the samples in the format
they were created in (such Word or QuarkXPress) so that the design
decisions, graphics placement, and overall effect are apparent. I'm
interested in hearing about the types of samples and formats you
encounter when people send samples by e-mail.

> 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?
I've been applying for tech writing jobs in Mass. recently, and I always
include a cover letter, because it gives me a chance to say why I'm
interested in the company I'm applying to and to explain why I'm
switching my career focus from editing to writing. In addition, I can
highlight the parts of my experience and background that best fit the
job requirements. This is especially helpful if the connection might not
be obvious enough. And of course, the cover message has the added
benefit of giving the recruiter a taste of my writing style and ability.

> 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?
I prefer to attach a resume as a Word document, as I'd like the
recruiter to see the resume in an attractive format that is easily
readable and conveys my knowledge of design fundamentals and readability
theories. However, I usually include a plain-text version of my resume
at the bottom of my cover message in case the recruiter can't access the
Word version for some reason. To avoid awkward line breaks, I view the
resume in Notepad and resize the window to see what happens to the text.
I include manual line breaks only where absolutely necessary.

Cheryl Magadieu

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