new tech writer

Subject: new tech writer
From: "ASUE Tekwrytr" <tekwrytr -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2003 10:28:31 -0400

"I am a recent graduate in technical communication (B.S.). I have been
working as a web designer / technical writer at a non-profit for two years
as a co-op, but now it's time for a "real job."

Best suggestions I can think of:
1. Focus on your skills in software documentation. If you have not taken basic programming classes (C++, Java, etc.), it will really help to do so. Understanding object oriented programming is a big plus, too. The reasons are not quite what others on this list may think. The fastest growing field for technical documentation is web services, and the conversion of existing corporate docs into XML.

2. Realize that current openings routinely get hundreds of application. You need to stand out. You also need the right buzzwords, indicating proficiency. XML is big, so is web services. I assume that if you have a tech comm BS you are already proficient with RoboHELP and FrameMaker?

3. Web design skills are great, but HTML is a given. You might lean on your ability to create online content, rather than webpages--many hiring managers don't realize there is a difference. Since you know HTML, pick up as much XML as you can, as fast as you can.

4. Learn about databases, and database management. You will be working for businesses, businesses keep their records in databases, and often need people to interface. SQL proficiency and a knowledge of basic database design concepts are something any serious tech writer should have, and that goes doubly for those trying to break in to the field. Writing docs for videogames is not a big source of jobs--writing docs for business applications is.

5. Mention proficiency with Microsoft Office, especially Excel and Access.

Good Luck!

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