Re: Is TW Still Hospitable to Novices? A Dilemma

Subject: Re: Is TW Still Hospitable to Novices? A Dilemma
From: "Elna Tymes" <etymes -at- lts -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 00:41:28 -0800

"Peter Shea (USF)" wrote:

> A friend of mine, having heard & read many testimonials about people like
> himself (computer literate with liberal arts background) breaking into
> tech writing, was inspired to take a run at becoming a T-Writer.
>
> He done writing in his past (real estate appraisals, Italian to English
> translations) and had begun boning up on useful programs like RoboHelp and
> Dreamweaver. But whenever he applied for a job, the HR people would ask if
> he had "worked on a network" or spent at least two years working for
> another company.

HR people sometimes are, unfortunately, among the most uninformed people in
the food chain at a company. The big problem we all have is getting past
them. HR folks tend to look at credentials and diplomas and think that's what
makes a tech writer. The problem is that the hiring managers, the ones who
actually hire tech writers, know credentials and diplomas are not necessarily
appropriate indicators of whether a person can do the job.

Tell your friend to buck up, and to try to find ways to get around, behind,
through, or otherwise past the HR folks. Most jobs advertised in classified ads
in the paper list HR numbers, as a way of screening out unqualified
applicants. Trying to get past HR in those cases is very difficult. However if
you work through an agency, you will usually find that the agency can go
directly to the hiring manager.

However, the agency may tell your friend the truth about his marketability,
given what's on his resume, and your friend may not like hearing that. In
today's market, most agencies will tell you that they have plenty of resumes
from entry-level writers, but not enough from qualified writers. The
difference is usually a matter of two years on the job and some
currently-popular acronyms, backed up by sufficient skill in
using/understanding what's behind those acronyms.

So how to get in the door? Look for internships, for junior level positions,
for any kind of technical writing assignment that gives your friend
demonstrable experience with those acronyms. Jobs like that are out there, but
they're harder to find than jobs for more experienced writers.

Good luck!

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems


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