Re: How to find/hire technical communicators in Shenzen, China?

Subject: Re: How to find/hire technical communicators in Shenzen, China?
From: Peter Neilson <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: slhauslinger -at- gmail -dot- com
Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2009 07:27:23 -0400

Some time ago I was involved in placing a native-born Chinese person as
an English-language tech writer, on my recommendation. She had been
looking for a position as a Cobol programmer, and was having no luck.
Our company was looking for someone to write a Cobol manual. She felt
her command of English was insufficient, but I knew she had been a radio
announcer and producer, speaking Chinese, in China. I felt that her
radio work gave her sufficient command of ideas and their expression
that the problems with English would be minor.

Her subsequent written English work was excellent, but it needed copy
editing--as did the work the rest of us were turning out. Yes, she made
errors, but we all did. Her errors were just "different".

Thus I recommend you find candidates whose expertise is in written and
spoken Chinese, who have a love of good language and clear presentation.
They should be comfortable with the ideas of science and mathematics,
and should have no trouble speaking to hard-science or nerdy computer
types, but they need not be technical experts themselves. They must, of
course, be well advanced in their knowledge of English, too.

You will already be aware that one of the difficulties of presentation
in the Orient is the desire for circumlocution. Directness is frequently
regarded as impolite or politically disastrous. Sometimes finding
technical information in a manual written in the East is an exercise in
digging a mine, rather than of reading. Avoid hiring circumlocutors.

There's one particular error in technical writing that I feel is all too
common, and almost need not be mentioned, but its avoidance is crucial,
so I'll mention it anyway. That's the use of descriptive explanations
where instructive material is required. Instead of writing a few
paragraphs that explain, "Here's how to plan for and use the
flabbergasket for installing jumbolators," the author says only, "The
flabbergasket is a gasket with flabbers. It is used when installing
jumbolators." The reviewers, all of whom install jumbolators every day,
review the words as being true, but fail to see that they are not
useful. Plan to avoid this scenario.

Sarah Lee Hauslinger wrote:
> Thanks, Scott. The managers in the China office will locate and qualify
> the applicants based on the job descriptions and requirements I provide,
> then I'll interview the candidates by phone and review their writing
> samples to make the final hiring decision. They've never been tasked
> with hiring technical communicators before and don't know where to
> begin, which is why I made this post. I've managed remote/offshore teams
> for several companies over the past decade, so I'm already familiar with
> the process.
>
> -Sarah Lee
>
> quills -at- airmail -dot- net wrote:
>> I may be coming in to this a little late, but I'll offer my 2 cents
>> worth.
>>
>> The problems of staffing remotely are probably greater than you can
>> imagine, until you run afoul of them. Wouldn't it be easier to specify
>> the skills you are looking for, and prioritize those skills, and then
>> rely on your people in China to hire on site? The only additional
>> thing you might add is to arrange for a telephone interview with the
>> candidates and you so that you can verify their English proficiency. I
>> know the Hewlett-Packard generally works in that manner and they mix
>> their project teams between remote sites.
>>
>> Scott
>>
>> Sarah Lee Hauslinger wrote:
>>> The company for which I work has an office in Shenzen, China. We are
>>> looking
>>> to hire some (English-proficient) junior/entry-level technical
>>> communicators
>>> to work in our offices over there. They will be supporting the
>>> efforts of
>>> our techpubs staff here in the US, mostly doing production
>>> editing/monitoring tasks. Here are a couple of questions for which I am
>>> seeking answers:
>>>
>>> - Which universities in the People's Republic of China have degree
>>> programs
>>> in Technical Communication? What are the titles/levels of degrees
>>> offered?
>>> What kind of training do the students receive--software skills, writing
>>> skills, and so on?
>>>
>>> - Where/how can we post job openings for the local area?
>>>
>>> - What other resources are available in the area (or throughout the
>>> PRC) for
>>> recruiting technical communicators?
>>>
>>> Just as an FYI, I've been trying to get additional headcount approved
>>> here
>>> in the US, but upper management refuses to make the investment.
>>> Although I
>>> really don't think hiring in China is the best option, it's all they are
>>> willing to provide. I'm fully aware that the quality of the output very
>>> likely won't be as high, and also very clear on the issues regarding
>>> managing staff on the other side of the globe (with a language
>>> barrier to
>>> boot). So, please understand that I'm not looking for advice or
>>> commentary
>>> on anything other than what I've outlined in the questions above.
>>>
>>> Thanks in advance for any info you may be able to supply, everyone.
>>>
>>
> T
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Free Software Documentation Project Web Cast: Covers developing Table of
Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.
http://www.doctohelp.com/SuperPages/Webcasts/

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control! http://www.helpandmanual.com/

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References:
How to find/hire technical communicators in Shenzen, China?: From: Sarah Lee Hauslinger
Re: How to find/hire technical communicators in Shenzen, China?: From: Sarah Lee Hauslinger

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