Re: Agency and interviewing questions

Subject: Re: Agency and interviewing questions
From: "Nancy B. Delain" <nbdelain -at- ALBANY -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 1996 07:52:52 -0500


The comments here make good sense ONLY if your stuff is published to the
outside world. Those of us who write only internal documentation don't have
the luxury of writing samples. The nondisclosures I've signed aren't
smokescreens; I've seen colleagues get very burned by disregarding them,
and if that's the attitude out there, the time will come when someone says,
"That's MINE and I'm filing criminal charges against you for disclosing
it." More's the pity.



>Your comments make very good sense. Writing samples are essential in
>interviewing. Perhaps the responsibility of the writer during the hiring
>process is to educate the agency/employer as to how he/she makes a living.
>My peers and myself have in the past asked the employer to become more
>specific in a contract so that we have the flexibility to maintain portions
>of the docs (such as a reference card, or introduction chapter) in our
>portfolios. Discussing this with an employer may educate them and nail down
>some specifics so that you both win.

>Systems manuals, such as the ones I am currently working on for our Unix-based
>products, do contain sensitive data. One solution (condoned by
>employers) is to reproduce portfolio samples containing dummy data, such
>silly directories/file names.

>As far as security goes, I have worked twice in the past couple of years
>for the Royal Air Force in London. The security implications were based
>more upon how the code and the data for the code were protected, not
>the distribution of user manuals (which document an interface). However,
>it is clearly stipulated that the docs are the property of the RAF. If a
>prospective employer was to inquire as to work I did for them, I would
>provide a reference first.

>camillek -at- dalsys -dot- com
>stet -at- connect -dot- net

>On Sun, 8 Dec 1996, Krista van Laan wrote:

>> Nancy Baum Delain wrote:
>> > One way to tell if someone is worth interviewing without a writing sample
>> > is to ask for the writing sample and wait for the response. If the
>> > contractor says something like, "I'm sorry, but I have signed a
>> > confidentiality agreement," you can bet that contractor will have just as
>> > much respect for your stuff as for any former clients'. If, however, they
>> > produce writing samples, you may want to think twice about hiring them.
>> >
>> Maybe. I knew a guy who had never written a word and used that line.
>> He got the job, too. Yes, the employer could have called his references,
>> but in my experience, they rarely do. There are so many legal issues
>> regarding past personnel that the references don't usually have much
>> to say beyond the dates a person worked.
>> Even if you have signed a nondisclosure agreement, does that still
>> apply to manuals that have been published and are for sale to the
>> customer through the customer service center? What about published
>> manuals that were written for products that are out of date? I show these
>> kinds of samples all the time and have never even dreamed there
>> would be a problem with something like that.
>> I would think that most applicants are able to produce real samples.
>> And when I am hiring, I expect to see some. I can understand
>> respecting someone's confidentiality agreement, but the idea
>> that an interviewer should think twice about hiring someone
>> who does show samples is really interesting!
>> ===================================================================
>> Krista Van Laan
>> Nokia Telecommunications Phone: 358 9 5112 3684
>> P.O. Box 33 Fax: 358 9 5112 3876
>> 02601 Espoo Finland Email: krista -dot- vanlaan -at- ntc -dot- nokia -dot- com

Nancy Baum Delain
Delain Associates
Training * Technical Documentation

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