TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: How do you respond to job ads? From:Denise Fritch <dfritch -at- INTELLICORP -dot- COM> Date:Wed, 3 Feb 1999 09:30:38 -0800
Hope you don't mind my disagreeing with you. It is possible that the
differences are simply different hiring practices between your area of
Canada and the San Francisco Bay Area where I'm located.
Anyway. . .
> 1. Most people aren't sending the requested work samples.
> When they're
> omitted, there's never an explanation as to why.
> If I was hiring, I would disqualify that candidate for not sending the
> requested info. That candidate would leave me with the impression
> that they
> do not follow instructions and thus would not follow my lead or give me
> feedback about why I should take another direction.
We've already had comments about the limited availability of samples and
those samples not being returned. So, I'll focus on this area as a former
manager. I prefer to speak with a writer while looking at their samples. I
want to know what part of the manual they wrote, under what circumstances,
how long they had for the project, etc. Not only what that writer says, but
how they describe the project tells me a lot about the candidate. As a
candidate, I want to describe to a hiring manager the history of a manual.
Whether I had five months to design and produce a manual, or the 30 page
installation publication I wrote when I was told, "we're shipping a beta to
SAP this afternoon, we need an installation manual to go along with that
shipment. You have five hours."
> 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.
> I would expect a cover letter. That letter must show a summary of
> the job requirements and how the candidate fits into the new job.
> Without the cover letter, I would be doing all of the work.
> Therefore, I would disqualify that candidate because they would not reduce
> my work load, they would in fact increase it.
Again, I'm not sure about your area of Canada. However, here in Silicon
Valley cover letters via the Internet are few indeed.
Have you visited any company's "Jobs Available" web sit recently? I did last
evening and left my resume. (Better to move when your employer is cutting
salaries to save the expense of a layoff. <G> Which is a HINT that I'm
available and job hunting in the SF bay area.) That company's resume
submission included a basic form asking name, address, and phone numbers,
then a list box with instructions to paste in your resume. Does the company
where you work have a similar "Jobs Available" web page? If so, does the
company provide space for a "cover letter"? If not, would you really
disqualify a candidate because they didn't include a cover letter when they
used the company web site to respond to a job notice?
> 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 would expect to see a resume and cover in PDF format, with
> embedded fonts.
> This would show me the person's creativity and ingenuity
> (information design
> and layout, and computer knowledge).
> A text-formatted resume tells me the candidate is not creative
> and does not
> know how to use present technology.
First, I agree that text resumes lack formatting. That problem has been
discussed here before, including the insistence by most agencies to receive
only text based resume files. Unfortunately there is no way at this time to
shift the emphasis from text files. I've tried. I keep my resume online at
my web site. (www.moss-fritch.com/resume.htm) I even suggest agencies visit
that web site because there, my resume is HTML formatted, current, and
immediately available. No luck. Instead, when I speak with an agent, that
agent insists I email them my resume as a text or Word file. As for
expecting to see a pdf (or maybe Frame) copy of a candidate's resume, I
would expect that few non-contractor tech writers have their own, registered
copies of Acrobat or FrameMaker.
Denise L. Fritch
Sr. Tech Writer
Mountain View, CA