Re: Trouble finding work

Subject: Re: Trouble finding work
From: Peter Neilson <neilson -at- alltel -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 18 Apr 2005 01:03:13 -0400

I've noticed some of this. From my cynical perspective it
looks like Job Inflation. The tech writer job has in some
bizarre way been redefined away from what you and I think
we ought to be doing.

Here's how I suspect it happens:

At some company they cannot pay the secretary the raise that
she's certainly due. So instead they "promote" her to Tech
Writer at her old pay and duties, and give her the assignment
to look over the spelling and grammar in a document, but not
the authority to change the meaning of anything. She does
this for one or two docs, and then quits for a job as a sec
to a VP in some other company.

HR senses a need to replace this person. They ask the flesh
peddlars for a replacement: Tech Writer, 10 years experience,
must know Notes and Microsoft Office, skilled at handling
large docs, knowledge of biopharmaceuticals and Linnux,
schedules and attends meetings, acurretely records notes at
same, types 60 wpm, pay $20 per hour.

Your resume matches except for the Notes, Linnux and the typing
rate, so you get an e-mail, and oh yes, is the rate of $20/hr
good enough for you?

That you happen to be a tech writer with lots of Linux work (and
very good spelling, by the way)--who can program modestly in
C, C++, Java, shell, Perl and Python, who can extract knowledge
from the most obscure SMEs, and who can design entire sets of docs
from scratch--does not make you useful to them. THEY WANT A
SECRETARY. To them "knowledge of biopharmaceuticals" means
they want a sec who can transcribe complicated names without
screwing up the spelling. No one knows why they want the "Linnux"
experience, except that the person who left claimed to have
used it.

This is now the new default definition of Tech Writer at that
company. It receives approval because it saves a lot of money
over the old rate of $35 an hour. Indeed, it saves extra
money because they don't hire anyone, and instead SMEs get
pressed into writing the docs in their "spare" time.

The work at $35 or more is out there. I wish I knew better how to
go about finding it.

Would someone a bit less cynical or paranoid than I please tell
me if I'm way off the mark or maybe just only slightly? Oh, and
tell us all How To Find Real Work?!?

Donna Marino wrote:

I'm in Colorado, have 15 years of experience, my expertise is
> online help, technical reference manuals, technical training
> in the software industry -- actually in 15 years, I've done
> pretty much everything a software tech writer can do. I have
> an excellent resume and impeccable references. I'm on just
> about every job list and respond to every lead that I'm
> qualified for.

By low hourly rates, I mean $20 per hour.

People are constantly telling the market is improving, but not
> from my perspective. I don't think I've ever been out of work
> this long (not even after 9/11). In other words, I'm always
> able to find work easily and that's just not the case these days.

I asked my question to try to get a feel for what the market is
> like in general, and to find out if others are having the same
> experience.



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Re: Trouble finding work: From: Donna Marino

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