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Subject:RE: New Job Titles: at what price? (long-ish) From:"Habegger, Nolan" <nolan -dot- habegger -at- dyonyx -dot- com> To:"TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Fri, 9 Feb 2001 10:41:31 -0600
About 4 years ago, the indomitable Mr. Steve Gillespie:
> 'topped out' as a senior technical writer,
> but recently managed to get 'promoted' by making the move that several
> others here have done: bid on position title 'Business Applications
> Analyst' -a totally separate job field here, but of course, one that
> carries a significant salary increase.
Good for you. Just a month or so ago, our Documentation Group was an
amorphous entity that had no internal identity or clear function. The two
writers and one graphics person were rarely utilized and getting any type of
protocol in place was impossible. No one had any concept of acceptable
documentation procedures or practices (i.e., "Can you have this 120-page
proposal edited and formatted by 4:00 PM today?).
<insert incessant tooting of one's own horn here>
I turned this around rather quickly by proposing the integration of our
technical writing resources into the Professional Services division. We now
have a career track that goes from entry level technical writer up through
the senior writing/editing track on into business analysis. Ultimately, a
junior technical writer (making peanuts) could theoretically end up working
as a professional services consultant (billable at $1500 to $2000 a day) if
they are interested.
The success of getting executive management to buy into this was
demonstrating the fact that tech writing CAN generate revenue in a billable
capacity without our company becoming strictly a TW outsourcing company
(which was a big concern). I did this through a business plan that showed
how it was financially feasible, along with marketing recommendations and an
internal strategic plan.
The proposal built credibility with executive management, who saw the
potential for additional revenue. The credibility gave me the opportunity to
say, "If you buy into this, you have to buy into the methodologies, or the
cash won't come in the way you want it to." My biggest problem now is
keeping the technical writers (who support not only Professional Services,
but also our IT Services and Applications Solutions divisions) from being
instantly pulled into PS projects.
I think this will work because the methods of TW and PS are somewhat
similar. Both are asking the "five W" type questions, but at different
levels in the client's organization. The TWs are talking to middle mgmt, and
the PSCs are talking to the CEOs, CIOs, etc. But the goal is the same:
gather information and communicate effectively to the audience so they can
be more productive. It looks like a win-win from where I sit, and everyone
who has seen my plan gets a bit giddy about the possibilities, which really
In the spare time I have (I discovered another me in a parallel universe), I
am writing a model to demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach.
> And the new boss takes every opportunity to let me know
> 'what a break he gave me' by bringing me over (from the dregs of
> technical communication). The message is, of course, that I really don't
> deserve to be here!
It's unfortunate that your boss doesn't recognize the fact that he has a
motivated employee who is ready to go the distance. You don't have to sell
your soul for the big money. Find an employer who will allow you to create
opportunities for yourself and then back them up with quantitative results.
Carpe tantus sus,
Professional Services Division
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