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: Agency and interviewing questions From:"Nancy B. Delain" <nbdelain -at- ALBANY -dot- NET> Date:Wed, 11 Dec 1996 21:29:55 -0500
>But what about the references who can't/won't say anything, as I
Well -- if you're uncomfortable with an applicant for any reason, don't
>I can understand your hiring a writer who maintained this; what I had a
>hard time with was the suggestion that a writer who did _not_ say this
>was a bad bet.
OK. I can see that point of view, as long as you're dealing with public or
semipublic stuff. However, I'll still look for someone who respects others'
confidentiality; that tells me they'll respect mine.
>> >>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 manuals that were written for products that are out of date?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 still check with the document owner. It is, after all, THEIR document,
>> not mine, even if I did design, write, edit and maintain it, and eventually
>> sent it into document oblivion.
>To the best of my knowledge, I've never signed anything that
>prohibits me from showing documents so I'm interested in this discussion. I
>was surprised to hear that anyone would think I was doing something
>illegal by providing something that I thought was standard issue at a job
What I said before about checking with the document's owner still goes.
Maybe you have had no trouble; maybe the laws in the US and Finland differ;
I don't know. To me, it's become a matter of courtesy to ask the document's
owner (if it's not me; most of my technical writing samples belong to
others) if they mind their document being traipsed around to
they-don't-know-who as a writing sample. In over 15 years as a tech writer
and an employer of tech writers, I've never regarded a writing sample as
"standard issue," though that point of view seems to be becoming more and
more obsolete (just as my pet peeve about data is vs. data are is no longer
I like the idea of a well-designed on-site test for the applicant (or
consultant) to see how they handle material (and pressure, btw). I get a
lot more out of that than I do out of a writing sample that may or may not
belong to that applicant.
Nancy Baum Delain
Training * Technical Documentation