About my technical writing

I have worked in the information technology field since 1996, for such diverse clients as Sony, Microsoft, DreamWorks Animation, NBC, Fox, MySpace, John Wiley & Sons, Nature, MetLife, and American Express. I have also worked for numerous boutiques and special clients.

My goal is to make information work for the people who need it.

In service of that goal, I have: created and organized the flow of information within companies; created and edited user manuals, embedded and contextual help, localization, UI and application messaging; created usability scenarios, software requirements, API documentation, process flows, live documentation, bug reports, test cases; and created and managedother documentation for all aspects of the software and hardware development and production processes.

I’m also experienced in the architecture, design, production and management of websites, and I’m a certified Agile Scrum Master.

Crafting and wielding effective resumes

This article came out of an email to a friend. It’s my basic principles for writing resumes that result in actual interviews and (hopefully) work.

Since the addition of the Internet to everyone’s information diet, people have become increasingly bullet-headed. Most people, and most especially those hiring, tend to want the information as fast and as simply as they can get it.

So with that in mind, I recommend that you who are creating resumes/CV’s:

A) break down information the information about you into different, discrete sections.

1. List the software programs you know how to use.
2. List the specific job skills that you have – design, management, traffic coordinator, art director, UI expert, foreign languages
3. List specific dates and companies that you have used the above job skills
4. List college education, awards, and/or milestones

B) Then, put the above lists in the specific order of what will be most important to the person seeing your resume. For example, if temping put the software skills at the absolute top of the resume. If a full-time higher-level corporate gig, experience with the needed software programs is generally assumed – so put it at the bottom, **but definitely still put it**.

C) If several different kinds of positions would interest you, then create a different resume from the above material for each position. Then, slant that resume directly towards that position. For example, if you were seeking work as a photographer then slant your architecture degree towards “how you visually view large spaces”. If seeking work as an information architect, relate architecture to “designing how people will intuitively move through space”.

In this way, consider a resume like a mini-novel about you as a working professional. To create this novel, take true individual facts and create a work that presents the truth of you in the most effective way for that job. Worthwhile fiction has truth in it, or it isn’t worth reading. Resumes are also shaped truth – truth that gets you hired.

After all, in the final analysis you KNOW you will do a fantastic job for any company that hires you. It’s just about giving them the information they need to realize  it.

D) Don’t get hung up on the length of the entire resume. The rule used to be “get all the information on one page”. But today most people don’t print out resumes, they read emailed copies or internet postings.

So definitely DO have all the key information for that job in the first HALF of the first page – ideally even the first quarter – but continue to fill out the resume from there, if needed. This is good also because a lot of people will go to job sites and keyword search – so if you have listed in your resume that you’ve been in sierra leone, they just might be looking for that in a web designer.

E) Use the Internet like you never have before. There is always something new to find that will help you land a job. I can’t recommend enough getting on at least 3 different job sites. As of this writing, the biggest ones are careerbuildermonster.com, and hotjobs. There are also job aggregation sites such as kijiji.com and indeed.com, which are great to check as they loop in newspapers and other odd sources. And even damn old craigslist.

I also heartily recommend getting a Linkedin.com profile if you haven’t already. If you have, it’s time to improve it. Make more connections, get more testimonials and more recommendations. Even if you don’t receive a job interview via LinkedIn, the person hiring is extremely likely to check you out on Linkedin before proceeding.

F) Maintain a job-hunting routine. It is now your job, 8 hours a day, to look for a new job.

When job hunting, which can happen quite frequently in the current contracting environment, I send out a minimum of 5 job postings or resumes each day, every day. It’s a fair amount to find openings for, but it works. Like jogging 4 miles a day, it’s the persistence over time that does the trick.

Good hunting.