Re: certification

Subject: Re: certification
From: Chuck Martin <cwmartin -at- US -dot- ORACLE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 16:38:42 -0800

Corinne Kantor wrote:
> I've been a tech writer for about 5 years now, and I have a portfolio that
> contains samples of my work, which I keep up-to-date and bring to every
> interview. If I was hiring a writer, I'd be much more interested in their
> portfolio than a certification. By seeing samples of a potential employee's
> work, you can learn more about their style of writing, maybe their page
> layout skills, etc. I don't know how you can learn this type of information
> from a certification exam.

For further consideration:

In the months leading to my completing my Bachelor's degree in Technical
Communication, I did a bit of on-campus interviewing. (I say a bit,
because at the time I was working in the field part-time and hadn't
thought much about leaving the Seattle area.) I had actually been
working for a local company, part time during the past year-plus during
the school year and full-time the summer between my junior and senior
years. Before that, I had spent a few years as a writer for a local
newspaper, some of that full-time, some of that part time.

One of my interviews was with a 2nd-line manager at a large technology
company. At one point my interviewer noted that they usually only hired
people with Masters degrees. Part of my response was that you learn to
write well by having lots of practice, and that I had had lots of
practice, several years worth, not just part of my classwork. (I also
projected a lot of confidence in my writing ability in that
answer--pretty gutty, actually, for someone not yet graduated.)
Unfortunately, I can't remember if I actually brought writing samples to
that interview, but I did to the on-site interview that I was
subsequently invited to. That company offered me my first Silicon Valley

When I have had to participate in interviews of other writers, I look at
the writing samples. I look for style, clarity, organization, and a host
of other things that certification can't tell me. Not that certification
can't be a good thing, but in this field, I'm not sure it tells me what
I most need to know about another writer. Put another way, as a
customer, certification probably wouldn't be high on my list of needs
from another writer.

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