That Pesky Free Market Again...(was:Subject Matter Expertise-YES!)

Subject: That Pesky Free Market Again...(was:Subject Matter Expertise-YES!)
From: Charles E Vermette <cvermette -at- juno -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 2003 13:32:29 -0500

On Fri Feb 28, Samuel Choy posted:

<<<My question is the following: What does the market want (I have an
opinion already, which I will state later) So I did quick search using
the key words "technical writer" on>>>

<<<...I think [the results support] my opinion...that far more companies
are looking for technical writers with previous technical knowledge than
for technical writers without. Many don't seem to care how you got it, as
long as you can prove you have it. This may seem obvious. But I think
that if you want to be relevant and marketable, you need to have some
kind of technical knowledge. And it doesn't matter how passionately you
feel about not needing to be an SME, you are not going to change what the
market wants...>>>

Thank you Samuel for summing up what has concerned me about this thread.

* The reality of the marketplace (especially a tight marketplace) is that
a client/employer needs and wants someone who can be as productive as
possible as quickly as possible.

* Another reality of a tight marketplace is limited client/employer
resources. Even if they *want* to give an ambitious, resourceful writer
six months to get up to speed, they have a partner or Board of Directors
who wants the next release out in before the end of the quarter - in
other words, they don't have the ramp up time to give you.

In light of these realities, who should get the job:

* Someone with writing, research and other "soft" skills, who still has
to spend X hours learning the technology, Y hours learning the industry,
and Z hours with SMEs, or:

* Someone with the same abilities and skill sets, who already knows the
technology and industry, who can keep SME contact to a minimum, and who
can produce right away?

The former may be able to "do the job." The latter will do it cheaper and
more efficiently. That is ultimately what a good business person can -
and should be concerned with (even if it does bite you and me in the butt
from time to time...)


Charles E. Vermette
85 Washington Park Drive, Norwell MA 02061
e-mail: cvermette -at- juno -dot- com


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