Zero value (was STC Transformation -- info)

Subject: Zero value (was STC Transformation -- info)
From: "Wendy Cunningham" <wcunning -at- pct -dot- edu>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 2004 08:43:26 -0400

David Locke said:
> It doesn't matter how well you do your job. Your value is always
zero. Past
> performance is no guarantee of future performance.

Although I'm usually a silent observer on this list, David's statement
struck a nerve. No, there are no guarantees, but that's true of any

My experience is that employers only undervalue technical writers
because they don't understand the many ways in which we can contribute.
They tend to think of technical writers as a convenience that they can
do without if need be. When taking on a new TW job, my first priority is
to demonstrate all of the ways my skills can improve the efficiency of
the team and the credibility of the product/service.

When I started my last TW job at a small software development company,
there was one part-time technical writer on staff. She fed the
misconception about TWs; she wrote grammatically-correct sentences, but
had no drive, no vision, no desire. She complained that she was
overworked. Business being strong at the time, the manager decided to
hire a temporary, full-time writer (me) to get through the current
development cycle. By the time I left (of my own accord) three years
later, my manager realized that a GOOD TW is truly valuable to an
organization and is essential to its long-term success. Today she keeps
three full-time TWs on staff. Should the budget become tight, they will
be among the last to go.

When I started my current job, the mind set was much the same. However,
when I had my first evaluation six months later, my boss admitted to
being surprised by the extent of my contributions. He said that I have
become a huge asset to the team.

In short, your value is only zero if you do nothing to enlighten those
with the purse strings. It is your responsibility to prove your worth.


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