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It is very hard to assess someone's ability without seeing samples of their
work. However, I have frequently had candidates who could not bring samples
of key pieces because they were internal or otherwise proprietary. In such
cases, I may ask them to produce something as a sample or critique something
I give them or otherwise demonstrate that they know what they are doing.
During a career, people need to be saving things and looking for
opportunities to create portfolio items. There are times when an employer
will let you show samples to someone, but not leave them behind. But from an
interviewer's stand-point, I need to look beyond what is on a resume and see
demonstrated ability and samples provide that demonstration.
From: Olive, Eric [mailto:EOlive -at- GLHEC -dot- ORG]
The end of a job posting for a tech writer appears below. The request for
samples in this posting is common. Often, employers seem to think that they
have a right to request mailed/emailed samples that, presumably, they will
not return. I wonder about the ethics of this request. The desire to see
samples is understandable but the request that the writer part with her
samples is less so. The argument that careful review requires hanging on to
writing samples is valid but does not hold up against client
confidentiality. My clients are not always open to letting me keep samples
when I complete a project (some agree others don't). I'm certain my clients
would not allow me to keep samples if they thought I would blindly mail them
around the country.
Once, I replied to an ad that included a request to mail in samples. In my
cover letter, I explained that client confidentiality prevented me from
mailing samples but that I would gladly bring the samples to an interview. I
got the interview and the other tech writers made a point of appreciating my
discretion. Turns out they were writing highly sensitive documents. In
short, I think the other writers were comforted by my "protective" attitude
toward my clients.
I wonder of J.L. Fraser (or Fraser's boss) would like it if his/her writers
mailed/emailed their writing samples to other companies.
Opinions? I did not find this topic in the archives nor on the STC site
(perhaps I missed it?).