LinkedIn vs. The Resume

More than a few times I have sent a coworker or acquaintance a link to a video on LinkedIn only to hear, ‘I do not have LinkedIn’. When I inquire as to the reason, the response is some variation of ‘I am not looking for a job so I do not need it’. Linked in is used to connect with hiring managers and recruiters but is also a way to network and connect with others in your industry. Keeping on top of industry news, managing professional contacts, and using the profile to build you personal brand are invaluable features of LinkedIn.

Spring has sprung and graduation is around the corner. Let’s look at the value of not only having a LinkedIn profile, but whether it should be different than your resume. The answer is a clear Yes, your LinkedIn profile and resume should not be identical. Each of these is a tool. Each of these has a different mission, purpose, and audience. Because of this each should be tailored to suit their purposes.

LinkedIn Profile

When you have a LinkedIn profile you are online and searchable. Recruiters search for candidates online through sites such as LinkedIn often before posing a position on a job board or database. When used this way, linked in does function as your resume but is more casual. You have the opportunity to use adjectives you may not include in your resume and to include nonwork-related certifications. This personal information can help a recruiter connect with you on a personal level to evaluate whether you will fit the culture at the hiring company.

The first impression. Often the LinkedIn profile is the first thing a recruiter or employer sees. If your profile is outdated or contains inaccurate information, it may lead to a bad impression. LinkedIn Profiles allow you to create a visual brand for yourself. Be sure to include the following to make your profile visually appealing and brand yourself:

  1. Profile picture: Choose a picture which shows you from the shoulders up in a neutral or office background. This should not be in selfie style.
  2. Banner Image: The banner image is a rectangle bar which appears at the top of your profile. The profile picture overlaps the banner. This author uses a cropped image from the cover page of the company’s user guides. It is colorful, graphical, and contains the company name, logo, web address, and physical address.
  3. Summary: The summary section allows you to convey who you are and what you want to do. This is more than what you can do for a company, this is your passion for your industry.
  4. Text Symbols: Symbols such as a lightning bolt, music note, pen, or keyboard to name a few can be added to your headline, summary, or anywhere else in your profile where you want to stand out. This may not be for everyone but used sparingly can be an eye catcher. See Symbols to spice up your LinkedIn profile for a larger list of symbols and how to add them.


Resumes may be emailed, mailed, exchanged during an interview or uploaded to a Human Recourses Information System (HRIS). These are physical documents which are formal and their delivery is usually targeted toward a specific job or recruiter. The story for each job or task is conveyed with minimal words in a few lines. STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) bulleted points are fairly standard.

While you will have one LinkedIn profile, you may have multiple resumes. It is necessary to tailor resumes to specific job titles or industries. Each resume lists what you have done which qualifies you for the position you are applying for. LinkedIn profiles are what you are doing now and what you are looking toward in the future.

Images and branding are not included in a resume. The more plain-text a resume is the easier it can be imported to a HRIS. At the intersection of Human resources and information technology lies HRIS. One feature of these systems is for job applicants to upload their resume to a resume parser. The system identifies the parts and puts the information into a standard format specified by the company. This helps the recruiter evaluate candidates by putting each individual resume into the same format. The recruiter can focus on the content of the resume without struggling to figure out the layout. Resume’s with tabs or those organized by job role may not import easily leaving the applicant with a lot of manual entry into the HRIS.

How Different

How different your LinkedIn profile is from your resume is a matter of debate. Both should serve their purpose and audience, but you must be comfortable with how each portrays you and your skill set. Be clear in your choices and be able to speak to the differences of the profile and resume. A recruiter may ask you to explain the differences between the two. Having you explain your choices can help them evaluate how you think and whether your thought process makes you a better fit for the position.


Technical Communicators as Effective Change Agents

As business and industry continue to change our work and personal lives, the one constant is change. For workers of the future what skills will change? How will the businesses and customers we serve change? What do these changes mean for communications and technical communicators? Change and transformation for organizations is about helping people change the way they do things. Because technical communicators live at the intersection of technology and users, they are positioned well to be agents of change for their organization. Also, technical communicators typically work with multiple departments within the organization enabling them to bridge the gaps between departments.

Why Organizations Change

Change is important for organizations because it allows companies to retain their competitive edge and succeed at meting the changing needs of customers. Reasons for change include responding to crisis, reducing performance gaps, adopting new technologies, business structure changes such as mergers and acquisitions, and identification of new opportunities.

Types of Change Management

  • Organization Change Management: Managing enterprise changes at the organization level and focuses on culture. This includes Mergers and acquisitions.
  • Program Change Management: Tackles change at the program level. The program is a portfolio of projects. The goal is to balance the need for change with the program’s objective and budget.
  • Project Change Management: Change is integrated into to every phase of a project.
  • Department and Team change: Prioritizing change and raising the success rate for changes. This includes the integration of new technologies and processes.

Champions of Change

Change agents are the person inside or outside of an organization who promotes and enables change within an organization. They do this by focusing on organization effectiveness, improvement, and development. Change agents can volunteer or be selected to facilitate change; it can be a part of their job or their whole job. These people are integral to the change process, they manage change during each stage, and are key to a successful outcome.

Case for Technical Communicators as Change Agents

There are two main characteristics which make technical communicators suited to become change agents:

  • Technical communicators are skilled at making technologies accessible to users through communications.
  • Technical communicators must integrate change when implemented by the organization.

Being the recipient of our own organization change allows us to guide others (coworkers and clients) through change. In her article, 5 Lessons from A Professional Change Agent, Carol Kinsley Gorman states this of the purpose of changes agents, “hired to help leaders become more effective communicators’. Communicate is what we do. Usually that communication relates to change; integrating it, surviving it. Traits of successful technical communicators mirror those of successful change agents, we are:

  • Confident
  • Passionate
  • Driven to explore
  • Creative problem solvers
  • Continuously learning
  • Technically adept
  • Comfortable with chaos

Career paths for communicators and technical writers are not limited to writing web site content and/or writing instructions for software. Our duties integrate us into all facets of organizations and provide the skills necessary to move customers and the organization through change successfully. These skills should not be overlooked by companies searching for talent and communicators looking for opportunities.



Why organizations change and what they can change

Technical Communicators as Agents and Adopters of Change: A Case Study of the Implementation of an Early Content-Management System

Why is change important in an organization?

Managing Your Customers Through Change

Customer success through change management

4 Types of change management

The role of champions within the change process

5 Lessons from a professional Change Agent

7 Traits of successful communicators


How to Become a Writing Tutor: A Passion and Necessity in Today’s Culture

The following has been adapted from my final paper for PWR 616: Technical Writing.

Tutoring isn’t simply editing a paper for someone according to your own personal preferences about writing. It’s giving others the skills to analyze their own writing and not be afraid of it. Other significant aspects of tutoring are having empathy for the person you’re tutoring and being able to encourage them while also critiquing their work and thought processes.

A tutoring session is a space for students to learn without judgement. Wrong answers aren’t wrong, they’re just not headed in the right direction. These answers can be led onto a better path by suggestions and allowing the student time to think through a solution. A tutoring session is a guiding force in a student’s life amidst chaos of school, sports, and other extra-curricular activities.

Tutoring is not something that should be taken lightly or jumped into without the proper training.

Things that do not qualify you to be a writing tutor include:

•Being an English major in college
•Taking a literature class that you enjoyed in college
•Writing a book
•Your love of writing
•A Shakespeare tattoo

Things that can qualify you to be a writing tutor include:

•Previous experience, such as in a Writing Center or as a teaching assistant for a writing course
•Proof of proficiency in writing (test scores, grades, any awards or distinctions)
•A teaching degree
•Completion of a writing tutoring class—many colleges require these classes for their tutors
•FBI and Child Abuse Clearances
•An understanding of learning styles
•A passion to help others learn and succeed

A balance of empathy and boundaries is necessary for writing tutors. While you may be the first person a student sees after a trying day at school, offering support while not becoming unhealthily involved in your student’s personal life can provide healthy lines for you and the student.

Be careful not to veer in the opposite direction. Not getting involved in a student’s life doesn’t mean you can’t empathize with them. It can be helpful to share that you also had tutoring during your academic career, or that certain subjects don’t “click” with you.

Vulnerability and allowing your student to see you as a person can help. The same idea should be true for your attitude towards your students. They are people dealing with their own lives at school and at home.

Now we’ve got the empathy and skills needed to become a writing tutor. Let’s sprinkle in a dash of descriptive approaches as well. While prescriptive versus descriptive approaches are usually terms applied to linguistic studies, they also apply to writing tutoring.

A prescriptive approach “describes when people focus on talking about how a language should or ought to be used,” while a descriptive approach “focuses on describing the language as it is used, not saying how it should be used,” (Reynolds, Amy).

In other words, a prescriptive approach is like a prescription. It’s a set of solid, inflexible rules about language and how it should be used when writing. Prescriptions can’t be altered without serious consequences, just as prescriptive rules of language incur lost points and lead to dejected students.

A descriptive approach to language and writing allows for more creativity. Language can be putty in a student’s hands. Taking a descriptive approach to language, and ultimately writing, allows students to get their words down on paper and start the writing process. If students are too worried about grammar rules, where commas go, and properly formatting a paper, they may never begin their assignment. Loosening those binds frees up mind space and lets creativity flow.

As an undecided undergraduate at Bloomsburg University, finding the English major and becoming a writing tutor were beneficial points in my college career. Taking the required writing tutoring course and other linguistic courses as an undergraduate led the way to me becoming a writing fellow in charge of an entire class of developmental writing students.

The fellowing experience was a significant reason I was hired as an independently contracted writing tutor, who later became a communications coordinator and freelance writing tutor. While these are all sources of my professional growth, tutoring also helped me find my place at college and in the world. Returning to campus after an extended leave was scary. The writing center, my colleagues, and training courses were not. Working as an independently contracted tutor gave me a twinkle of light in a dim world where I hated my full-time job and needed a creative, reassuring outlet for my passion.

As David Wood says in his research, “tutoring is an outgrowth of helping. Helping is an innate human propensity—we’re born to help. When people … see somebody else doing something that they themselves can do, and see them getting frustrated by not being able to do it, then there’s a perceptual invitation to get involved. Some of us feel the invitation very strongly,” which sums up how I feel about tutoring. I R.S.V.P. to that invitation immediately. I love helping students see their potential, and being present for the confidence they gain after mastering a new concept.

Job Profile: Technical Writer Skill set

When evaluating job postings for technical writer you want to be sure your skill set matches what the company or recruiter is looking for. Some job postings are clearer than others in what they are looking for in a writer. As a basic description, technical writers are responsible for designing and write documentation for a company’s products. This includes writing initial documentation, revising as the company revises the products, publishing the documentation, and for maintaining an online repository of those documents. This is the technical writer’s output, what they produce. Technical writers must also work with multiple Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in various departments to accomplish their work. This puts them in a unique position to actually be integrated into multiple departments outside of the writers or education department.

Technical Writers produce documentation, true but what do they really do…what does that mean. A review of current job postings reveals a myriad of responsibilities and required skills. I have included a list below along with what each requirement really means using software as the company example.

  • Work with individuals in departments including from management, quality assurance, customer support, and clients.
    • What this means: Long before a software is changed, or a new software is provided to a writer many individuals have been involved in the changes. These persons include business analysts who work with clients to design changes, developers who make the changes, and quality assurance who test the changes. These people are your best tools to determine ‘what really changed’ and ‘why did we make this change’. Depending on the company, writers may have direct access with customers and can use customer feedback to change documentation to improve its accuracy and usability. Without access to customers, your customer support department may be where documentation request come from.
  • Write, edit, and format release notes.
    • What this means: Let’s start with what release notes are. Release Notes are a document that accompanies a software release that list both the new features, changes to existing features, and known issues (bug fixes). This is sometimes called ‘What’s New’. Release notes are important to end users because this is how they determine which pieces of the software they use have been changed and must be re
  • Write, edit, and format online help project to coincide with application updates.
    • What this means: Documentation that is available within an application or on the Internet for end users is online help or the help file. This information looks different and has a different content structure than documentation in a Word or FrameMaker user guide. The help file is more than user guides put online, it is easy to use layouts and navigation, dynamic content, and searchable. Technical Writers can take advantage of HTML and XLM features of help authoring tools such as MadCap Flare and Adobe RoboHelp. These tools allow information to be single-sourced and available to be used in many different outputs. One of the greatest usability features these help authoring tools provide is to add context-sensitivity to the online help. When a user is on a specific screen/page of an application and open help, the content related to the page they are on automatically opens.
  • Update documentation to keep it current with recent release changes.
    • What this means: With each release all materials related to the application must be updated and available to users upon release. This includes release notes, user guides, online help, quick guides, and other relevant material. It is crucial to customer satisfaction and retention for customers to have access to these materials. It is important for technical writers to complete these materials when the release is wrapped up so that they can move on to the next release.
  • Create and format documentation templates.
    • What this means: All of the documentation pieces have a certain look whether they be created in Word, FrameMaker, PowerPoint, or a help authoring tool. This is the design or style element for these pieces and the template is created as a blank starting point for each document. Technical writers create these templates to be used by themselves and other team members. These templates ensure consistency when a new piece of documentation is started. For instance, if a topic template is created in the help authoring tool, when a writer starts a new topic it will be created with that template shell.
  • Ensure consistency in instructional content and naming conventions.
    • What this means: Consistency in content can be aided with the templates the technical writer designed and with the language used itself. It is important with a team of writers, that the documentation reads as though it is written by a single person. Documentation written this way is easier for end-users to understand. Naming conventions refers to the names of documentation files. These could be user guide Word or PDF files or any files in the online help. Consistency in naming these files makes them easier to find within the company SharePoint site or OneDrive locations. For example, these could be file names of items in the help file related to a demographics program.
      • DE_Add_Information.htm – All topics for demographics begin with DE_
      • DE_IMG_Add_Info.png – All images for demographics begin with DE_IMG_
      • DE_SN_SSN.FLSNP – All snippets for demographics begin with DE_SN_

Note: Snippets are reusable pieces of information. In this example SSN (Social Security Number) as a field may be used in numerous places in the online help. Create one snippet then insert it where needed. If the function of the field changes you only need to update the snippet and the places where it is inserted will automatically update.

  • Research application features, enhancements and resolved issues to write customer-facing content.
    • What this means: All of the documentation written involves writing for new features and improving existing documentation for existing features. Research is how you determine the changes to documentation. Each company has its own systems for tracking work lists or items to be changed. These work lists will define system changes, their scope, and specification documents or Specs. Specs are written by analysts and used by developers to code changes to the application and by quality assurance to test the software. These specs are a technical writer’s best source to determine what has changed. When this information is combined with a walk through of the last release and the upcoming release a more complete picture of changes can be revealed. If sprint review meetings are held to demonstrate changes, these can provide any late changes that were discovered during programming, but did not get added to a spec.
  • Experience with development methods; waterfall, agile , or others.
    • What this means: A software development process is how work is divided into phases leading up to release. This can also be called development life cycle. There are a few methodologies used by companies. Technical writers will have to be familiar with which process is being used at their company and how they work within the method. Below are some descriptions of development methodologies:
      • Agile: Requirements and solutions are worked on in a collaborative effort of self-organized cross function teams with their end users. Releases contain less changes an are released more frequently.
      • Waterfall: This process is less iterative and flexible. Process flows in one direction; downward through the phases from conception to deployment and maintenance.
      • Prototyping: Involves creating incomplete versions of the software program. A great benefit of this process is the designer can get feedback from end users early in a project and make changes with less financial impact.
      • Rapid Application Development: This process puts less emphasis on planning and more emphasis on an adaptive process. With less planning, the process is more flexible to take advantage of knowledge gained during the project to improve the end program.

Nearly all  technical writer job postings require a bachelor’s degree in Technical Writing or related communications or technology field. Often these indicate that an equivalent master’s degree is preferred. In the past month I have found the first job posting I have seen which requires a Master of Technical Writing degree.  I believe that a master’s degree in a professional writing or technical writing will become a standard requirement for Technical Writer job postings. With this in mind I am forever grateful for the Master of Professional Writing program at Chatham University.

Seeing Red? Tips for Working with Editors

by Amanda Bernhardt

“Why did you change this?!” said a researcher who had just stormed into my office. He was holding an issue brief I recently edited and sent back to him.

“Because it’s jargon. This brief is for laypeople. They’re not going know what ‘substantial gainful activity’ is,” I said.

“But our client—the guy paying our bills—likes that language. Shouldn’t we do what he likes?”

As editorial disagreements go, this one was minor, mostly because we have a corporate rule about it. But writers and editors always seem to but heads over something. And if you’re a writer, eventually you’ll be dealing with this, too.

I can hear you groaning already. Writers don’t love the idea of having their work napalmed by an editor, but editors aren’t the enemy. In fact, their goal is to make you and your writing look great. A good editor sees your work as your readers will see it. She can tell you what to cut, add, and correct to get the attention and response you want.

But what if you disagree with the edits? What if the editor doesn’t catch everything or changes your intended meaning? Here are some tips for minimizing the amount of red ink spilled:

Before the Edit

  1. Revise your work. Just because you’re working with an editor doesn’t mean you can skip your own revision. Get your draft into a good shape before an editor sees it. Have someone else read it, if needed.
  2. Get your facts straight. A good editor will catch things like simple math errors or that Austin (not Dallas) is the capital of Texas. But if your standard deviation is off by 2 points or you cited the wrong source, that may be on you. Find out how much, if any, fact checking your editor does.
  3. Know your style guide. Save yourself and your editor time by learning your style. It’s easier to put in the serial comma yourself than to have your editor do it and have to accept a ton of commas in Track Changes.
  4. Have a pre-edit chat. Tell your editor the purpose of your document, your audience, the style guide you’re using, and your deadline. Be sure to ask any questions you have about the editing process. Chat with your editor in person, if possible, to establish a rapport.

After the Edit

  1. Don’t take it personally. Getting a red-inked document back can make you feel like a fifth-grader getting an F on a paper. Don’t worry, you’re not grounded. Many writers, including great ones, get heavily edited; it’s a normal part of the process. Your editor’s goal is not to punish you but to make you and your writing shine.
  2. Have a post-edit chat. Review the edits and note any you disagree with or have questions about. Go over those with your editor. There’s a lot of give and take in editing, and not every edit is set in stone.
  3. Take another look. If you revise your work post-editing, you may introduce new errors. Feel free to ask for a follow-up edit or a proofread to catch any typos. (Remember to budget time for this.)

Further reading:

Basic Interview Advice for Writers

by India Johnson

After you’ve submitted your writing sample and/or portfolio, it’s time to prepare for the in-person interview. Take a deep breath, relax, and follow these interview tips:

Learn about the company and position. Do research. Learn about upper management (LinkedIn is a great tool). Read about the projects the company has worked on. Carefully read the job description to familiarize yourself with the required responsibilities.

Prepare brief answers to typical interview questions. Your answers should be clear and concise. Typical interview questions include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Tell me about a recent project.
  • What do you love most about writing?
  • Tell me about your writing process.
  • What do you do in your free time?

Prepare questions for the interviewer. This shows your industry knowledge, and also it reminds them that they are being interviewed as well. You must decide if you want the position if it is offered. Typical questions to ask include:

  • What will a successful year look like for this position?
  • Why is the position open?
  • How do you train new writers?
  • When are you looking to make a hiring decision?

Arrive early. If you are not early than you are late. Don’t make a bad first impression.

Dress Professionally. Here are some tips for what to wear for the job interview.

Take Notes. You may not remember everything that was discussed during the interview. Take brief notes for reminders once you get home.

Send a ‘Thank You’ note. After the interview send an email or mail a note to thank the interviewer for their time.