Re: How to get a job in these challenging times

Subject: Re: How to get a job in these challenging times
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 04 Aug 2002 18:46:06 -0700

Andrew Plato wrote:

5. Your profession has become extremely diluted by font fondling flakes. The
single largest factor driving down technical writers' salaries is writers who
have completely missed the whole point of the profession. Every time a writer
eschews content matters in favor of processes, fonts, style manuals, and other
incidental BS, the salaries for competent writers decreases. If you want tech
writing to mean something again, the profession must purge all the process
freaks, font fondlers, and academic pontificator who contribute virtually nothing
to the profession and divert energy into nonsense.

Excuse me if I giggle.Font-fondling a waste of time and nonsense? Giggle!

Of course, I know the sort of behavior you mean. Writers who spend a long time over design with little actual knowledge of design are even less worthy of respect than - well, than writers who ignore design altogether.

At the same time, I have to add that I landed three out of four of my last contracts precisely because I do have a better than average understanding (at least for a writer) of design.As you say, people have to get creative to keep employed in hard times, and being able to offer design as well as sound technical writing is one of the tactics that's keeping me afloat - and quite nicely, I might add.

1. Be ruthless. In tense times the people who survive are the ones that look out
for themselves.

In the short term, maybe. In the long term,however, you may find that the birds may come home to roost as you find yourself trying to land a job or a contract with someone you shafted.

I'd revise this comment to: Don't act on a non-existent solidarity among writers, but don't stomp on any toes without very good reasons - and then think twice.

2. Exploit people. Get out there and network with NON-technical writers. The
largest mistake most writers make is they commingle with other jobless writers.
How on earth could these people help you? They're jobless too!

Quiet! You're giving secrets away! I love the fact that I'm usually the only writer at techie seminars and the rest of my kind are hanging around the STC.

Spot on, but don't spread the idea too much, okay?

Ditto for not relying on the job boards.

> I can't
tell you how many program managers, executives, and IT directors I meet who have
complete disdain for technical writers.

Definitely. I'm amazed at how my interactions with developers improved once I got a bit of geek cred. And a little goes a long way, too. So many writers don't learn anything technical that even a bit of knowledge makes you stand out.

Another thing I learned:it doesn't matter if the developers know that your knowledge is spotty. Just the fact that you're trying to understand a subject they're passionate about is enough to make you acceptable.

7. Ignore Monster. These job boards are mostly a waste of time. You'll never get
a decent job from them. And while you're at it, blow off recruiters. You think
you're having a hard time getting work? Recruiters are an endangered species.
Don't get to close to them, they might contaminate you with their stench of

On the other hand,recruiters know all the local industry gossip.It's worth building a relation with one or two recruiters just so you can keep informed - for the price of a cup of coffee every month or so, you can target your job hunting much more effectively. Also, like any networking, if you keep the channels open, then you'll be given first chance at any jobs that do come the recruiters way.

Finally, don't forget that recruiters may be endangered now. They probably won't be in the future.

Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7177

"rats may be rich or rats may be clever,
but one thing of which they'll never get rid
My Dog
knows where the bones are hid."
-OysterBand, "My Dog"

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How to get a job in these challenging times: From: Andrew Plato

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