"not technical enough"?

Subject: "not technical enough"?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, "'Jane'" <judydh -at- total -dot- net>
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 08:27:35 -0400

Jane of no last name, talking about interviews that have not "gone
swimmingly", wonders: <<For those that I haven't, including one that they
said they were extending an offer to me but they just changed their minds,
I've often gotten the
feedback that I "wasn't technical enough". In the context of technical
writing as the job, what the hell does that mean?>>

It usually means that they think you're a good enough writer to do the job,
but that they want both a good writer and a good geek in whatever field of
geekdom they're working in. You may or may not have sufficient understanding
of the technology for their taste, and that understanding may or may not be
necessary, but on the whole, that's what it often means. Why would this ever
become an issue? Because people are human, and have prejudices (sometimes
legitimate ones). Perhaps they have another candidate just as good as you
but who can also program in Java; perhaps the Personnel department has a
checkoff box that says "hire no women younger than 40 because they might
want to have a family", used that checkoff to overrule the manager who wants
to hire you, and left him or her grasping for a believable exuse to not hire
you; and perhaps the senior project engineer was scared by an English major
when he was in university and now refuses to work with anyone other than an
engineer who can write. There are many good reasons, and many more bad
reasons. Take your pick!

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Technical writing... requires understanding the audience, understanding
what activities the user wants to accomplish, and translating the often
idiosyncratic and unplanned design into something that appears to make
sense."--Donald Norman, The Invisible Computer

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