It’s an anniversary of sorts on TechWhirl. In honor of the 100th poll question we’ve published since acquiring TechWhirl, it seems appropriate to take a look at a couple of our oft-resurrected debates. Among the recurring threads in the TechWhirl online community and email discussion list on a recurring basis, are those related to hiring (interviewing, testing, background checking, etc) technical writers (and other content creators), and those related to professional development, including academic degress and credentialing/accreditation. Two separate threads, that tend to reference each other, are sparking a lot of conversation right now on the list, which is a perfect opportunity to bring in some additional perspectives with a poll question.
Whirler (and SWU member Lois Patterson) mentioned a recent Harvard Business Review article proclaiming that “The Degree is Doomed,” which identified some emerging trends across many professions to pay less attention to the college degree and find more effective, 21st century ways to assess and credentialize job candidates. Writers and designers across many fields are moving portfolios online, and now professions that traditionally haven’t required a portfolio are taking note and creating portfolios of projects and accomplishments. More and more professions are developing Bodies of Knowledge (BoK) and certifying practitioners in their fields. Communities of practice for many professions thrive online and in the real world via networking and social media, and many hiring companies look for candidates’ contributions to those communities for insight into their abilities and work style. And in much the same way as 20th century dating services worked to find a perfect match, firms that develop online video profiles of candidates are starting to emerge.
Testing writing candidates always brings some high-energy debates to TechWhirl. So does certification of professionals. But now, even fields where “knowledge workers” have been relatively unknown are turning to firms that develop assessment tests to weed out inappropriate or unqualified candidates for positions such as retail sales cashiers, baristas, and hotel desk clerks.
It’s clear that one single method of assessing job candidates would never be sufficient to find professionals that can contribute to your organization, and can grow in their chosen fields. We know that tech comm and content professionals have to create content that works across multiple channels and platforms, so perhaps it makes sense that the hiring candidates requires multiple channels and platforms.
What’s your experience (or if you’re not a hiring manager, your point of view as a candidate is just as important)? Have you found reliable indicators of competence and “fit” that work when you’re ready to add to your team? Are there some, that you find irrelevant, but are required to use anyway? Vote in the new poll, and please add a comment or two. Your experiences will help other content professionals sharpen their recruting and candidate assessment skills, and that strengthens our whole profession.