RE: STC Salary data collection

Subject: RE: STC Salary data collection
From: "Kit Brown" <kit -dot- brown -at- comgenesis -dot- com>
To: "'John Rosberg'" <jrosberg -at- interwoven -dot- com>, "'TECHWR-L'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, "'Bill Swallow'" <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2007 00:37:38 -0700


Well, isn't this a lively discussion! :->

I will respond by topic, rather than by individual since several of you
raised similar issues:

1) Marketing/Member Communication: Yes, STC's marketing basically sucked in
years past, and involved a lot of navel gazing. No one disputes that.
However, STC has made some strides in this area in the past couple of years,
starting with increased partnerships with corporations and other
professional organizations, connecting with industry leaders, and on the
member side, providing more Board transparency, better member communication,
improved business-related sessions at the conferences, webinars, etc.
However, it takes time and money to build relationships and turn around
years of inertia. Believe it or not, the changes to the salary survey will
give STC greater visibility at levels above the tech com manager and outside
our profession, and will make it easier to make the case. As will getting
the definition of technical communicator brought up to date with the US
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As any hiring manager who is forced to use
those codes knows, it's nigh on impossible to find the correct code for what
we do under the current system...

2)Standards: John, we are talking about two different levels of standards.
You are referring to business standards and skill standards that lead to
certification discussions (and yes, the certification argument is coming up
again, but that's another topic entirely; it is something that members in
Europe and Asia are more interested in than in the US). In my post, I was
referring to ISO, ANSI, WC3, OASIS, and other standards for creating the
information products that we produce. Many of these standards are woefully
out of date with regard to our work products, and it's through professional
organizations like STC, IEEE, etc. and the hard work of an army of
volunteers that these standards are being dragged kicking and screaming into
the 21st century. The standards work goes directly to STC's core mission of
promoting the profession and education. It also is a way of marketing
ourselves outside the profession because these standards are used by many
industries and governments around the world. Participating in standards
development gives our profession more credibility, particularly in highly
regulated industries.

3) Survey: First of all, no one said anyone was lying. I am sure that most
of the technical communicators are honest and that most of the survey
respondents answered truthfully and to the best of their knowledge. The
issues are the perception of HR managers and scientific validity--research
has shown on many surveys about many different topics that self-reported
behaviors/activities/demographics tend to be placed in the best light,
particularly if the respondents have a vested interest in the results of the
survey. It only takes a small percentage of respondents painting a rosy
picture to completely skew the results (and yes, the flip side is also
true), and it's very difficult to write a survey that corrects for this
known bias. And, Gene's suggestion of surveying only those members who are
willing to share their w-2s and 1099s (and other income instruments for
non-US members) has huge privacy and data security concerns, as well as
sample bias issues of its own. Once STC realized that there was a
potentially serious bias in the data, and after speaking with the Society of
HR Managers and hearing their concerns, STC was ethically obligated to find
a better and more objective way to collect the data. Is the new method
perfect? No, of course not. But, it has the following advantages: 1) it is
perceived as more objective by HR managers (and as we know perception is
reality), 2) it gives our profession more visibility outside of tech com
world, 3) more objective data means that we can better identify the areas
where we need to promote ourselves more effectively, build skills, take
leadership, etc. 4) since the BLS survey is used across multiple industries
and professions, it is likely that a lot of the kinks have been worked out
and that it has demonstrated scientific validity over time. Granted, we may
have to come up with several ways of collecting these data globally, as
other regions/countries might not have the same data available.

Since we haven't yet seen the results of the new process, shouldn't we
review the results first, and then make constructive suggestions for
improvement, rather than condemning it without seeing it? Who knows? It
could be that the BLS Survey will validate the self-reported survey...we
just don't know yet... If it doesn't work out, no harm done and we can find
another solution...

BTW, there is a webinar on December 5th with economist Rick O'Sullivan, who
will present "Upgrade Your Career Using STC's Salary Database" from 1 to 2
PM Eastern Time on Wednesday, December 5, 2007. For more information or to
register for the seminar, please visit

4)BLS codes: Richard's comment about the BLS codes is exactly why STC is
working with Rick O'Sullivan to get these definitions corrected, and also
why some of our UK members are very interested in piggybacking off of these

5)old STC vs new STC: Some of the rhetoric on the list refers to issues from
days of yore. There's a new sheriff in town and her name is Susan Burton.
She took over as Exec Dir for STC last year, and she and the staff been very
busy since she arrived with a number of initiatives that will do the things
that y'all are concerned about--promote the profession to industry leaders
and other professions, help us define ourselves and our value-add more
effectively, provide training and professional development that help build
skills in the business side of the equation as well as keeping us marketable
on the technical side, taking a leadership role in trends, and so on.
However, there have been many things in terms of infrastructure and
processes that needed to be upgraded so that these bigger picture
initiatives can succeed, including the accounting system, the association
management system, the bylaws, many of the processes and procedures, etc.
Change takes time, and can be difficult even when it's good change. Take a
look at the strategic objectives that were developed during Paula Berger's
term. STC is back on
track and the staff and many many volunteers are working hard to make this
vision a reality...

We ALL want our profession to flourish and to have the professional
opportunities that not only give us intellectual satisfaction but economic
security as well. Discussing the issues is good and healthy, particularly
when constructive feedback is provided--feedback that includes specific
positive action that the recipient can take. So, knowing there was a
perceived issue with the salary survey, what would you do? What do you do to
promote the profession and to contribute to the greater good? How do you
contribute to the profession? How do you talk about your work to the young
people joining our profession? To your boss? To your colleagues? To your

Kit Brown
STC Associate Fellow
STC Global Strategies Committee Chair
Comgenesis, LLC
kit -dot- brown -at- comgenesis -dot- com
GMT-7, Mountain Time zone

Coauthor (with Brenda Huettner and Char James-Tanny) of "Managing Virtual
Teams: Getting the Most from Wikis, Blogs, and Other Collaborative Tools". .

"Be the change you want to see in the world."
"Practice random acts of kindness and senseless beauty"


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RE: STC Salary data collection: From: John Rosberg

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