If you’re looking for work, you should definitely research interviewing and do the smart things: show up on time, dress appropriately, research the company (so when the interviewer asks, “so do you have any questions for me”, you do), be enthusiastic, answer the questions they ask but work your strengths into the conversation somehow, clean up your social media if it needs it, listen as well as talk, follow up and thank them, and so on.
The following tips are pretty much just for technical writers:
- Have a story for each work sample that you show. I used to just dump my work samples on the table and ask if anyone wanted to look at them. Looking back, not that smart. What I do now is hand them out one at a time and explain why they are important for the job.
For example, if graphics creation is important to the job, I show two or three pages that show graphics I’ve created. I mention the vector or raster (only mention these if you know what they are and can define the difference between them) graphics program I used to create the graphics (generally Illustrator because it’s well known). I also mention that I am very familiar with Photoshop (if that hasn’t already come up in the conversation).
I think you can see where I’m going with this. By strategically handing out my samples, I use them to make the case that I am the most qualified person for the job.
- Include a Documentation Plan that you created. I believe that showing a Documentation Plan shows the hiring manager that you plan ahead and understand and care about the documentation process at a higher level.
If you don’t know what a Documentation Plan is, look it up. I hand mine out just like the other samples I mentioned above; that is, by itself with an explanation.
I got this tip from a presentation by Jack Molisani, the owner of Prospring Technical Staffing (prospringstaffing.com, check out the Resources section) and creator of the LavaCon Conference (lavacon.org). I did not understand the value of presenting a Doc Plan at the time, but I believe now that it sets you apart from most other candidates.