RE: The Big Lie (was 'Are You a Writer?')

Subject: RE: The Big Lie (was 'Are You a Writer?')
From: "Grant, Christopher" <CGrant -at- glhec -dot- org>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 26 Mar 2002 08:49:08 -0600

> 52% - specified requirement for tool usage only;
> 36% - specified the ability to write; and
> 12% - wanted a combination of both skills.


> To me, the numbers speak for themselves. It also shows we
> are perceived more as desktop publishers than writers.


> Does this mean that we are simply using the tools of our trade?

To me, this means that when employers are looking for technical writers,
they focus on software skills. I think this is perhaps because it's one of
the easier requirements to state. It's much easier to say, "Must have 3+
years of advanced FrameMaker experience" than "Must be able to gather
resources from a wide variety of different information sources and then
write clear, complete, and accurate user or system documentation."

And I think a lot of the time, writing ability when hiring for a technical
writer is assumed. That is, when employers are looking to hire a new
technical writer, they assume that interested applicants would have some
writing skill, because what non-writer in their right mind would sign up for
40 hours a week of writing? :) Kind of like if an auto repair shop hires a
new mechanic: they probably assume that person knows how to operate a
socket wrench.

Finally, I think part of this is that employers see "hard skills" such as
the ability to use a particular tool as costly to - if necessary - receive
training for. OTOH, I don't think actual writing itself (at least where I
work) is considered a "hard skill" - this goes back to the notion that
everyone considers themselves to be writers. I've seen lots of training
advertisements pass by my desk, and I can count with two fingers the number
of times I've seen acutal _writing_ training classes.


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