RE: New tech writer employment tips?

Subject: RE: New tech writer employment tips?
From: "Richard Smith" <Richard -dot- Smith -at- windriver -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 2 May 2001 08:43:29 -0700

As best I can tell, there is, and will probably always be a shortage of TWs
who know code. If you have any interest in documenting software, learning
common languages like C, C++, and Java will likely benefit you the most
(lots of XML these days too). You don't need to be a full-fledged coder, but
knowing the syntax and structure will give you skills that many TWs don't
have. Consider contacting the HTML app you did the guide for and ask them if
you can do or revise a help file for them.

Remember, you are at the disadvantage having no experience. You will need a
strong skill set, and a good portfolio to differentiate yourself. Go into an
interview with some compelling reasons why they should hire a person with no
paid experience, and be prepared to take what you can get.

How did I do it? Well, I applied to a whole lotta jobs. Found this company
who needed a junior writer. The pay was about 8k a year less than I was
making at the time, but the company seemed awesome. It was an employee
centered environment; better than any workplace I'd ever experienced, so I
figured I'd take it. Three weeks later our company was acquired. Talk about
nervous, I was still trying to remember names! Turns out that the
acquisition was a very good thing. My situation is much better now than
before. That's been about ten months ago now.


> Subject: New tech writer employment tips?
> I'm looking for that first break into the tech writing field. I've taken a
> tech com class, learned HTML, Framemaker (I already know Word very well),
> Acrobat, and
> WebWorks Publisher. I've designed a web site ( and
> written a brief software user manual. I am also active in my local STC
> chapter. Most jobs advertised
> specify at least 3 years of experience. I would be interested to hear
> people's stories about how they got into the field and any resources that
> might pertain to Junior Tech Writers. Any and all tips, ideas, and
> suggestions are welcome!


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