Re: certification is absurd?

Subject: Re: certification is absurd?
From: kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2003 14:44:14 -0600

Edwin wrote:

> those most opposed to certification are the very same ones who
> fear their own ability to demonstrate their "expertise" in a
> controlled setting.

That's the second time you've made that rather brash assumption, and for
the second time I'll retort.

I'm not at all afraid of such a thing. I welcome it. Hell, I'm one of this
list's main advocates for testing writers when they apply for a job. I got
no problem proving to you that I can do the job. Bring it on.

But I do have a problem with certification. If I want a skill I need to
get employed, I go out and get it. But the skills required in our field
vary greatly, and are influenced by geography, industry, and technology.
As a person hiring a writer, the skills you might value most in a
candidate might be completely different from what I want. For example, in
my current position, I need somebody who can sell with their writing. I've
worked with a LOT of tech writers who simply cannot do that, despite their
vast technical knowledge. It's apparently a rock-solid mental block. So I
don't hire them. But in a previous job, I needed somebody who understood
COBOL, HTML, and database-driven e-commerce. Without those, I wouldn't
hire you.

My point it: for certification to cover enough bases, it's inevitable that
some or all of us are going to get forced to get trained in a skill (or
two, or five) that they'll never use. That idea cheeses me off. Life is
short. Don't make me waste it to pass YOUR criteria of what a tech writer
is, when I've proven I can convince REALLY important people (employers)
that I can do this job.

Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses. It is up to us as writers to
be self-aware, and to be able to assess and market our strengths. And it
is up to us as managers to know how to weed out unqualified candidates
based on their resumes, cover letters, how they present themselves at
interviews, how their work samples look, and - if we dare - how they do on
any tests we give them.

Your desire to use certification to help you pick your employees seems to
give yourself little credit for your own powers to discern quality (or the
lack thereof) in the applicants you're reviewing. Is it that hard for you
to tell whether somebody knows what they're doing?

It's a competition. The people who want it bad enough will work hard
enough to win. I really believe that.

Don't get me wrong. If your prediction comes true, and it does become
necessary to have SuperASKUE Certification (or whatever) to even apply for
a job, I'll go out and get it.

But I'll do nothing to support the implementation of this concept, and
will curse your (collective) name for every check I have to grudgingly
write to some certifying authority for classes, tests, etc.

Badges? We don't need no steenkin' badges!

Keith Cronin

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