Technical writers have no formal professional certification to demonstrate their expertise. If you need a position as a documentation specialist, how do you present yourself as a qualified, quality applicant? Here are a few articles that should help you.
Gathering business requirements from stakeholders is critical to good design, but setting up quality interviews can be tough. Tossing out the org chart may be the best way to figure out who really wields influence over a company's website.
Whether you are a web designer or a copy writer, if you’re going to freelance, you need to learn how to look your best on a job application. Having worked on both sides of job applications, I’ve seen enough to recognize what gets a person through to the interview and what gets their applications tossed.
At my office we are currently standardizing our interviewing process. This got me thinking about the subject in general, and so I thought I would share some things that I've learned over the years from being on both sides of the interviewing table. Once a year I set aside a day of class with my students and discuss nothing but interviewing skills (along with salary negotiation tactics, and how to live off of entry level salaries). In this series of articles I will document that and expand upon it for both sides of the interview process, how to interview as a candidate and how to interview as an employer evaluating candidates.
Discusses the skill of interviewing from the perspective of the employer evaluating a candidate. This is a useful exercise because this is something that not enough people have given thought to, and often times the hiring process is haphazard and unfocused. This can lead to good candidates being overlooked, hiring people that are not right for the current position, or even misrepresenting the position to a candidate which would result in the new hire leaving after they have realized that they were not doing what they thought they were signing up for in the first place.
Social networking once meant going to a social function such as a cocktail party, conference, or business luncheon. Today, much social networking is achieved through Web sites such as MySpace, FaceBook, or LinkedIn. Many individuals use these sites to meet new friends, make connections, and upload personal infor- mation. On social networking Web sites (SNWs) that focus more on business connections, such as LinkedIn, individuals upload job qualifi- cations and application information. These SNWs are now being used as reference checks by human resource (HR) personnel. For this reason, SNW users, particularly university students and other soon-to-be job applicants, should ask the following questions: Am I loading information that I want the world to see? Is this really a picture that shows me in the best light? What impression would another person have of me if he or she went through my site? Although SNWs are a great way to be connected with friends, family, and friends-to-be, they can present problems when potential employers begin to search through them for information concerning job applicants. Many potential employees would be mortified to learn that employers could potentially read the personal information posted on MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other SNWs. Searches on SNWs allow employers to look into what is done 'after hours,' socially or privately, by the applicant. A résumé may be just a snapshot of a job applicant, while other personal information may be found online. Many job applicants have learned the hard way that what they post may come back to haunt them (Rodriquez, 2006). Human Resources and SNWs Many companies that recruit on college campuses look up applicants on MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other SNWs. What they find on these sites presents a dilemma for the recruiters. Students post comments that they may think are private but can be read by many. These posts can be provocative comments on any subject from drinking to recreational drugs to sexual exploits. Although they may seem innocent enough to the students who have posted them, college recruiters or graduate admission officers may look at these postings as immature and unprofessional. Recruiters are warning universities' career resource centers that they are looking at SNWs and that it would be best to work with students about how they are presenting themselves on these sites. The lifestyle the students are presenting online may not be what corporate recruiters or graduate school admission officers want in potential applicants.
Send a thank-you note for every interview. It can be an email, a handwritten note on good-quality (neutral color) stationery, or a standard business letter.
In an interview, you want to find out about the position and the environment, give job-related information about yourself, and leave a good impression, all while being relaxed. That’s a tall order for anyone, so we hope our advice and anecdotes will help you survive—or even thrive—in an interview.
Give yourself a hand. Your presentation starts with your handshake. Make it firm, business-like, and brief. Your hand should be thumb up with fingers straight. The interviewer isn’t going to kiss your hand or lead you into a waltz.
Good interviewing skills are critical to your professional success. Taking inventory of your own strengths and weaknesses is essential to preparing for any job interview process. The following strategies will help you navigate the job interview with success: do your homework on the company; when asked about a skill you do not possess, answer by drawing attention to a related competency; engage in active listening; exhibit calm and poise; try to meet the rest of the team; and be skeptical of the information furnished by the interviewer. These skills will keep you well prepared for job transitions.
Job fairs can be powerful tools in the search for employment after graduation. There are a lot of opportunities for entry level computer related jobs at these fairs, but coming prepared is the key. You serve as your cover letter, so be at your best.
When interviewing with a technical writing manager or with others who are familiar with the role of technical writers, the interview process can be a natural and productive information exchange. In such cases, interviewers can often readily define needs, assess a candidate's experience and qualifications, peruse a portfolio with their needs in mind, and initiate questions in the interview that are relevant to the position and candidate. But, what happens when interviewers are less familiar--or unfamiliar--with the role of technical writers or the technical writing position they seek to fill?
In a team interview, several members of the publications team, as well as the hiring manager, interview each candidate. Each team member interviews the candidate individually, looking for a specific type of information. The interviewing team meets afterward to share information about the candidate. Although it takes more time, having each interviewer concentrate on one or two aspects of the candidate allows interview team, as a whole, to learn more about a candidate. This process, in turn, helps the manager to make better hiring decisions.
The interviewee entered her prospective manager's office, eager to answer the questions that she knew would soon be fired at her. Shelley had been through this process a dozen times in the past few months as part of her quest for a technical writing position, and could anticipate the line of questioning. Far from being nervous, she was calm and confident. Phil, the manager, was also well versed in the interview process. Having hired many people during his career, he knew the type of person he was looking to hire. During an interview, his mind would usually be made up within the first few minutes about whether the candidate would get a second interview or would end up having to continue his or her search.
For the past few years, the buzz phrase in interviewing has been behavioral interviews. In behavioral interviews, the interviewer asks the candidate what has been done in the past in order to extrapolate what will be done into the future: past performance indicates future performance. I’m suggesting that the behavioral interview could be more than a discussion about behavior—it could be a demonstration of behavior. Test driving candidates places a demand on the candidate to exercise his or her current ability while under scrutiny. Thus, rather than hearing stories about behavior, test drives allow you to observe behavior.
In this interview, I ask Rich Maggiani, who serves on the STC board, to comment on why questions are so important and what the art of questioning entails. Rich gave a presentation at the Summit titled The Art of Questioning.
Outside of the formal SME interview, a writer's relationship with engineers and experts is built on trust, respect, and a little bit of bribery.
Scientists and engineers sometimes reveal how scary the job search feels to them when they talk to recruiters. Often this comes couched in complaints about "how the job market works." It's true that the job search does take us out of our comfort zones. But not all of that fear is justified.
Job interviewing requires a set of skills that we use for a relatively short time, and they grow rusty when we don't use them. When it becomes necessary to gear up for a new job search, we bring them out and polish them up. The problem with that approach is that while it's easy enough to communicate the obvious points about yourself during the interview—why you're a good fit for the company, why your experience and education prepare you well for the kind of work they do—there are more subtle things you need to convey during an interview. Call them the intangibles. And when it comes to conveying intangibles, skills tend to become rusty with disuse. When you walk into the interview room, you'd better be attuned to those intangibles.
Whether you're a manager or not, consider the following check list the next time an interview is about to commence. As an interviewee, these actions might give you a competitive edge. As an interviewer, they might help set your standards on how you rate potential candidates.
Regardless of what you call them - technical writers, technical authors, technical communicators, technical publishers - these individuals play a vital role in your organisation. So when you’re hiring one for a part-time, full-time or contract position, you need to make sure you choose the most suitable person.