RE: On-line Examples

Subject: RE: On-line Examples
From: "Higgins, Lisa" <LHiggins -at- carrieraccess -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 13:31:05 -0600

Thomas Murrell:

> I don't know that I've ever seen a piece of technical writing
> and said to myself, "There's a classic example of work that only a Senior
> Technical Writer could have produced," or "Here's work obviously done
> by a junior TW."
> There have been books that I thought were well done, and books that I
> could have been done better. The same goes for web sites or online
> help.

I agree, but I'd expand that. I think the senior tech writer designation has
more to do with having a shorter expected turnaround time, being able to
design and implement a project from beginning to end, and requiring less
editorial/structural input.

That is, the same piece of work can be produced by a senior and a junior
technical writer, but in a just world, the junior tech writer would have
gotten some direction and help on the structure, design, project schedules,
format, and so forth; while the senior tech writer would have done all that
without the same degree of help.

Over the span of my career, I suppose my writing skills have improved a
little, but my project management, social engineering, information design,
and technology skills have all improved enormously. Technical writing skills
are fairly finite, too. They are a tiny subset of writing skills overall.
They're not universal or anything, but they are something that even a junior
writer should be at at least 80% proficient in. The differentiating skills
are more along the lines of structuring, designing, organizing, and quickly,
effectively grasping relevant technologies.

> Often the title of Senior Technical Writer denotes a pay
> grade or rate. Not infrequently having this title inflicted on one is a
sign of
> experience in the field. Experience seems to be what separates the Senior

> TW from the title of Technical Writer, but it is equally true that if one
> is being hired at a given salary one may have to take the title of Senior
> because that's the title for that Job Grade, experience having little to
do with
> it.

On the other side of that argument, 'junior' and 'senior' levels often
indicate, essentially, that seniors get hitsies. Consequently, a lot of
smaller companies won't see the need to indicate levels of technical
writers. I have had well-paying, senior level positions where my title
didn't have a senior prepended to it, only because there weren't any juniors
there for me to push around.

And it never occurred to me to be bothered by that until I put it on my
resume. I'll try to remember that next time, though.


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