Re: Fear and Loathing at the Job Site

Subject: Re: Fear and Loathing at the Job Site
From: Jo Francis Byrd <jbyrd -at- byrdwrites -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 08 May 2003 18:14:58 -0500

Andrew Plato opined:

The biggest problem in the tech writing profession is that a large chunk of the profession honestly believes they can remain totally content-ignorant and be accomplished and effective technical communicators. And these folks preach this BS to other writers, who fall lock-step inline with this stupidity. Basically, these people are ignorant and they don't want to work hard to learn anything new. But they need to justify their jobs (and salaries) so, rather than learn
the technology (which is hard to do) they try to convince people that knowing the technology isn't their job.
The only good thing is that when a place gets a taste of a skilled, content-knowledgable writer, they never want to go back. This is why many places are starting to demand content-knowledge in their tech writers. They've seen that writers can actually offer more, and SHOULD offer more than
To which I now add my two cents.

Interviewed today for a gig. I was not the first person they interviewed (but I was the last!). From what I was told, the woman the hiring manager interviewed yesterday fits into the category Andrew rails about. She did not wear business attire, and despite having produced three online help systems, could not describe any of the products she created the online help for. She didn't understand the content, and it sounds like she didn't want to. The hiring manager "ate her lunch." Quote, unquote.

Now, I just can't get uptight about an interview. I waltzed in, completely at ease, dressed professionally (the atmosphere at the place is casual, but you don't dress like that for the interview most of the time), with samples, able to describe what the products did, how the applications worked, why you'd want to use it. I could talk technical, in other words. I demonstrated that if I didn't understand the content going in, I'd pound away at it until I did. How can I explain it if I don't understand it and all that.

I start tomorrow.

There is an upside to the current rotten job market: those of us who are competent and either understand the technology, or make an effort to learn and understand it will survive. A good many of the font fondlers and template tweakers will fall by the wayside. This is a good thing.

Jo Byrd


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Re: Fear and Loathing at the Job Site: From: Andrew Plato

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