Welcome to TechWhirl Forums

Sign in or Register to get involved in our discussions.

Writing samples and NDAs


I'm new to this forum. Right now I'm preparing to apply for tech writing jobs, and I've prepared a set of samples to show potential employers. However, I'm concerned about potential conflicts with my previous employer about my using them. I searched this forum site, but didn't find much information about this, except for an article written several years ago, which unfortunately didn't really address my situation. I'm hoping some of you here have some suggestions.

I didn't work in a highly sensitive, high-security environment. It's your average commercial software company in the medical sector. I'm pretty sure I signed an NDA when I was hired, but that was back in 2006, so I only have a vague memory of it. I know they had a lot of concerns about competitors getting hold of manuals I was working on, for products that hadn't been introduced yet. That is understandable, but I left the company almost a year ago, and the manuals I have in my possession now are for products that were already released when I left. So theoretically, it seems like there shouldn't be any problem. But I don't want to ignore any etiquette rules about this.

What is the etiquette? Should I contact HR at the company and just ask them? Should I get approval from them in writing? Is there anything else about this I should know?



  • smajorssmajors United StatesPosts: 24
    I don't have any answers but following to see other responses.
  • brucegwatsonbrucegwatson United StatesPosts: 2
    via Email
    I sympathize with you -- it's a common problem. Everywhere I've worked I've signed NDAs, yet at every job interview, I'm asked for samples. You can do the math.

    My approach is to bring samples to interviews, but carefully. If I'm interviewing for job in a different industry or field than that of the place I'm interviewing at, it'd be hard for the previous company to argue that they were harmed. I do have samples from infotech jobs which bring to interviews when relevant, but only for them to look at while I'm there, and I bring them home with me. I also would never e-mail those to prospective employers.

    I don't like the idea of doing something that could cause me difficulties, but if I don't bring samples, I don't get jobs, and I've got to feed my family. It worries me, but I've done it for many years and I've not had any problems so far (knock wood). Hope this helps, but it's a tough one.

    Bruce Watson

    From: smajors
    Sent: Monday, April 2, 8:29 AM
    Subject: [TechWhirl Forums] Writing samples and NDAs
    To: brucegwatson

    TechWhirl Community Forums http://community.techwhirl.com/ smajors commented on Writing samples and NDAs A message from TechWhirl Community Forums ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ I don't have any answers but following to see other responses. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Visit TechWhirl for the latest on content technology, content strategy and content development | http://techwhirl.com ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ -- Reply to this email directly or follow the link below to check it out: http://community.techwhirl.com/discussion/comment/887#Comment_887 Check it out: http://community.techwhirl.com/discussion/comment/887#Comment_887
  • ConnieConnie United StatesPosts: 28 admin
    Hi Joyce,

    I wrote this back in 2013, but it contains some useful information and guidance on dealing with the NDA/portfolio conundrum. https://techwhirl.com/building-an-nda-compliant-portfolio/
  • donna_mcmanusdonna_mcmanus United StatesPosts: 1 ✭✭
    What's worked for me has been to scrub my examples (remove all corporate identification) and if necessary, edit the text to remove references to specific clients or location. (If it's a long document, I would suggest just doing this to a relevant sample of the document--perhaps 8 or 10 pages, max.)
  • JennBiscardiJennBiscardi Posts: 1
    I agree with both Donna and Bruce - it's a double edged sword because if you don't bring home the bacon, you can't feed your family so you must scrub your examples carefully and thoroughly. Have a limited number of your best work in a binder that you show at the interview only and never, ever, email a sample. (Doh! me speaks from experience.)
    Good luck!
Sign In or Register to comment.