Techwr-l certification?

Subject: Techwr-l certification?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L Whirlers <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, chrismorton11 -at- gmail -dot- com
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2008 07:17:27 -0400

Chris Morton wondered: <<Like many of you, I've been a techwriter for
what seems like forever...well, twenty years, anyway. I've provided
work to Microsoft, Ziff-Davis, Que, Hewlett-Packard, the State of CA,
Learning Tree International...the list goes on.>>

Which, on the face of it, sounds like a sterling resume... exactly
the kind of person any hirer with a brain would seek out. We now
segue smoothly to reality:

<<This morning recruiter X contacted me about a nearby position for
which I had submitted my resume, cover letter, LinkedIn endorsements,
and such. She first asked about my education. I have the equivalent
of an associate degree... Then she asked if I have a technical
writing certificate (for what reason, I wondered).>>

Because a degree, "or equivalent", is a checklist item for most
personnel departments, many of whom haven't the faintest clue as to
what they're doing and most of whom have never heard of technical
communication. You used to see "or equivalent experience", but the
"experience" part seems to have been fading slowly away. Basically,
in a hirer's market, it's a question of narrowing down the number of
resumes you have to read: if you can hire two otherwise identical
candidates, but one has a degree, why not hire that person instead?
(Among other things, if it's a technical communication degree,
they're probably younger, and you can pay them less because they're
less experienced.)

<<What do all of you think about such certification and, if you think
it's worthwhile, from where should consider getting such
certification online?>>

After 20 successful years in the biz (like me), a specialized degree
or certification is gilding the lily. It's completely unnecessary,
and it's unreasonable to ask for this kind of credential. You've
proven yourself to the satisfaction of some very big names.
(Microsoft anyone?) But if you find that the kinds of jobs you're
applying for require this as a checklist item, then clearly none of
this matters: if you want to work in the biz, you need your green card.

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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Techwr-l certification?: From: Chris Morton

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