Re: Why are companies now requiring techical writer candidates to be SMEs?

Subject: Re: Why are companies now requiring techical writer candidates to be SMEs?
From: "Chuck Martin" <twriter -at- sonic -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 21 Apr 2003 18:38:44 -0700

"Mike O." <obie1121 -at- yahoo -dot- com> wrote in message news:195105 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> They asked for someone who is a great tech writer AND has voice app
> experience. If they are serious about both requirements, there may not
> be a lot of qualified applicants. GREAT tech writers are probably
> already employed and might not apply for this job. So the pool of
> applicants meeting all the criteria might be smaller than you (and
> they) think.

I'm glad you said "probably." I'm still not.

> It is entirely possible they might not find someone who meets both
> requirements. They may just have to settle for a great tech writer who
> can quickly adapt to the new technology. In this case, get in there and
> start selling yourself. It might take a few weeks, but once they get
> frustrated with the lack of response to their impossible requirements,
> then they start listening to your pitch. I have gotten at least one gig
> in this scenario. (I'd leave out the 'deliberate ignorance' part,
> though).

That's what I was having trouble figuring out.

One of the stances I've taken during this 8-month job search, something I've
mentioned to a few hiring managers, is that I won't apply to jobs that I'm
not pretty sure I'm qualified for. I know in this economy that any job
posting generates hundreds of responses, and I don't want to fill someone
else's Inbox with irrelevant email; I don't want to waste their time.

So therein lies the dilemma. Should I violate my own ethics and simply
ignore such requirements and simply sell myself for what I can do? (In this
case, everything except their own software knowledge--something I can learn,
and learn quickly anyway.) Or is there another approach that may be
effective in such situations?

> On the other hand, maybe they are not really serious about the great
> tech writer requirement. Maybe what they really want is the "best
> available tech writer" who also has voice app experience. In this case
> you have less of a chance, since they will be screening you out early.
> Hey, if it makes you feel better, there are also probably a ton of
> unemployed voice-application programmers who are P.O.'d they can't get
> this job because they don't have writing experience.
Do you know any programmers with writing experience? The last time I worked
with a programmer-turned-writer, after he got laid off, I spend a
not-insignificant amount of time "cleaning up" his "writing" output.

I'm tempted to out-and-out tell hiring managers that I can write in the
English language at least as well as their programmers can write in
C/SQL/Pascal/Java/whatever, and I know programming languages probably better
than their programmers know the English language.

The only thing that keeps me from being so bold is that such a statement
might be perceived as racist--even though many of the programmers I've
worked with over the years are native English speakers (and yet still that
concusion tends to hold).

"I don't entirely understand it but it is true: Highly skilled carpenters
don't get insulted when told they are not architects, but highly skilled
programmers do get insulted when told they are not UI designers."
- anonymous programmer quoted in "GUI Bloopers"

Chuck Martin
User Assistance & Experience Engineer
twriter "at" sonic "dot" net

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