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First off, I'd say *every* profession has its share of sweatshops,
immature and incompetent co-workers, and eventual disillusionment.
IMO, burnout in the high-tech industry is simply a "given". Companies
*need* to be able to react and adapt very quickly to technological
development and the needs of a picky market, as do the staff that work
in such companies. It's fast-paced and a lot of pressure, but if you
don't like that sort of lifestyle, you should really be looking for
work in another industry. Or take a break for awhile, look inside
yourself to find the things you *did* like about working as a TW, and
decide where to go from there.
Secondly, I strongly disagree with those folks who think just because
you graduated with a certain degree (or none at all), that you can't
do well in a seemingly unrelated field. IMO, what you actually learn
on the job and how well you *apply* that knowledge, as well as retain
it, is what helps you excel and grow professionally. And there are
certain skills that are important in any type of job - effective time
management, project or task coordination, resourcefulness, teamwork,
good organizational skills, and so on.
Thirdly, what high-level skills have you developed in the past 11
years that *would* make you indispensable? For instance, if you've
worked for start-ups or very small companies, you've probably had to
be intimately involved in marketing, product development, support
services, business development, and logistics as well as your regular
job of tech writing. I can imagine that after 11 years in the biz and
having worked for many different companies, you'd have an excellent
knowledge of the strategic importance of documentation as related to
marketing, product management, and support. Why aren't you marketing
these skills to get higher-level positions or consulting
opportunities, perhaps for other struggling "sweatshops"?
Your notion of expendability ties right into this. You're only
expendable if you're not demonstrating to the company that they can't
do without your skills and knowledge. Get involved with your teams and
product at a more strategic level... come up with initiatives that
show your business and marketing savvy... make them see you as someone
other than just "the tech writer". Sounds trite, but if you're a star
player, you're probably not going to be the first one booted off the
team when layoff time comes around.
Interviews may not be "clicking" because you may (inadvertently) be
giving the impression that your primary concerns are stability and a
very regular paycheck for the next 10 years. Interviewers want to see
that you're enthusiastic about technology and can make a positive,
substantive contribution to the company, regardless of how long they
might be in business. They also want to see that you can adapt to
change without losing focus on priorities and "the bottom line".
It all depends on how you define "career". From your post, it seems
you define it as *where* you work - not *what you do*. There's nothing
wrong with needing a high level of stability regarding your office,
co-workers, and day-to-day tasks... but as you've already discovered,
the high-tech biz is inherently unstable. That's not going to change
anytime soon, so you'll really need to look inside yourself and ask if
working in such circumstances really makes you happy. Sounds like it
doesn't. And don't let the money fool you - you can work like a dog
for a year and make piles of cash, only to spend it the next year on
medical bills because you destroyed your body and mind from the
stress. :^) It's just not worth it.
Good luck with your soul-searching!
email tanja -at- tsr-writing -dot- com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: bounce-techwr-l-68038 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
> [mailto:bounce-techwr-l-68038 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com]On Behalf Of
> anonfwd -at- raycomm -dot- com
> Sent: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 10:02 PM
> To: TECHWR-L
> Subject: FWD: Losing my profession?
> I do not want to start a holy war on the list, but I wonder
> if others
> are experiencing the same thing I am.
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