The I’d Rather Be Writing techcom blog posts 10 Alternative Tests for Technical Writing Job Candidates. Not all of the ideas apply to our situation at STS, as we are all technical writers here, we don’t really have in-house documentation, and tend to recruit more entry-level folks who we can mold to our ways before they are corrupted by outside influences. However, there were some interesting suggestions.
I like number 10, especially:
Check to see whether the writer formatted his or her resume with styles.
I look at the formatting of resumes, cover letters, and writing samples in detail before I read them. Seriously, folks. Your resume is a great opportunity to show that you have some grasp of good information mapping practices as well as some skill in Microsoft Word. (And as awful as Word is, most technical writers will be using it an awful lot.)
Using styles gives you bonus points in my book. But if you don’t use styles, you should at least make sure the formatting is consistent. If some of your job titles are 10 pt. and some are 11 pt., I will notice. If you have two hard returns between some items and one between others, I will notice. If you use strings of spaces instead of tabs or paragraph styles to position your text, it will never line up perfectly, and I will notice.
Lack of attention to detail is a deal breaker in a candidate, and a poorly formatted resume is a great big warning sign about your ability to spot those tedious errors that a quality technical writer must be able to spot.