Re: landing the first job

Subject: Re: landing the first job
From: Steven Brown <stevenabrown -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2004 09:53:33 -0800 (PST)

Hi Lisa,

I think we need to define what we mean by "technical
skills." In reality, the "technical" side of our
profession varies depending on the area of employment.
For example, if you're documenting a back-end database
for programmers, you may be expected to understand
advanced database concepts and read database
programming and query languages. If you're writing
user manuals for musical composition software, you may
be expected to understand music theory and be able to
distinguish a major chord from a diminished one. Given
the variety of work environments in which we work,
it's hard to tell anyone what they should study or
know. You can attempt to be a generalist or a
specialist, but there are advantages and disadvantages
either way you go.

At the very least, you will be expected to demonstrate
your ability to write clear and concise instructions.
You can create your own writing samples by rewriting
bad documentation that you find or documenting
processes or procedures wherever you work today (even
if you're flipping burgers or selling shoes).

I would strongly recommend that you understand how to
use a PC. You will be expected to do any number of
things on-the-job, including installing software,
troubleshooting issues with files and fonts, and
finding information on the Internet.

Finally, you should familiarize yourself with basic
technology-related concepts (e.g., what is a database,
what's the difference between a web server and an
application server, what is ActiveX) and the major
programming languages. I'm not suggesting that you be
an expert in any of these things, only to know what
they are should an interviewer mention something that
would otherwise be unfamiliar.

And be sure to continue reading through posts to this
listserv. The questions and stories you read here are
representative of what we deal with in the "real

Let us know how your search goes!

Steven Brown

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landing the first job: From: Lisa Spencer

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