Sunday, January 4, 2009

Drawing a line in the sand

Testing editor applicants is not limited to prospective employers (see "Testing, Testing, 1-2-3," below).

Several years ago, I sent the following letter to the president of an editing agency regarding its testing requirement.

"An Unsolicited Suggestion"

Dear XXX:

I am one of "the 3% who pass ABC tests." [The agency uses this figure in its marketing materials to tout the quality of its temps.] I have previously done successful temp work for a number of your clients, some of whom have requested me back.

I recently submitted my resume in response to your ad for technical editors. I just got off the phone with XXX who told me that, because I haven't done work for ABC in several years, I would have to be retested in order to be reinstated/considered. I told her that I am not willing to do that.

I have been working in the editorial field for almost 20 years, and my editing skills are even stronger today than when I worked with ABC. I find this policy quite literally unbelievable. As someone with extensive editorial experience, I don't have to tell you that the editing skill set is not lost over a period of time when it is in constant use. In fact, it is strengthened. (Please see attached resume.)

ABC is missing out on some significant talent by imposing this draconian requirement. It's bad enough that many employers impose an editing test on experienced professionals; they don't know any better. But for ABC to retest is an insult to our profession.

I would urge you to reconsider this policy out of respect for the professional achievements of those who have been associated with ABC and wish to return, willing and able to solidify your competitive position.