Re: Future Tech Writer with Software Questions

Subject: Re: Future Tech Writer with Software Questions
From: "Stuart Burnfield" <slb -at- westnet -dot- com -dot- au>
To: "Techwr-l" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 11:06:38 +0800

> _ I am_ working on determining what I could be doing outside of
> going to class to help me really have an upper hand as far as
> employment in technical_ writing._

First off, your attitude is great, Craig You're wondering what to do
now that will lift you above the pack of other inexperienced TWs.
You're not expecting a certificate to get you a job by itself.

Robert gave you a good hint: don't think like a graduate, think like a
hiring manager.

A graduate thinks like this: I could do that job. I'd be great. Why
didn't they hire me? It's not fair!

A hiring manager thinks like this: We're up against the wall on this
project. I want to hire someone with demonstrated experience who knows
our industry and is an expert with the tools we use. And is cheap!

Sadly, you never get applications from TWs like that who also enjoy
working for peanuts. But hiring managers know that, so they look for
the next best thing.
- We use rare Help publishing tool X but I'll settle for experienced
users of similar Help publishing tools Y & Z.
- None of the applicants have experience in the oil & gas industry but
applicant A worked in mining, and applicant B has worked in a wide
variety of projects so she's probably a fast study.
- There's no budget for someone really experienced, but maybe Jay
could take all of the complex topics and we could hire a graduate to
churn through all of the routine updates. It would be boring but
they'd learn a lot and we could see if they're worth keeping on

Your application and cover letter need to tell the hiring manager what
special advantage you have to offer over the other applicants. Very
often it won't be quite what they're after. You might be cheap,
reliable, smart, and willing to learn, but they'll hire the $100/hour
guy instead because he'll finish the job by the end of the month with
minimal supervision.

All of this is my long-winded way of saying that owning your own
software licences isn't that important. It would be very rare for a
client to choose you because you own a copy of FrameMaker. *KNOWING*
FrameMaker, yes. That might get you a job. But non-tiny companies will
have their own licences or be willing to buy them.

Most popular tools used by TWs have trial licences. After you graduate
and while you're applying for jobs, use your free time to master the
basics Frame, Flare, DITA, Word, Help & Manual, and so on. Even
better, contribute to FOSS projects so you have actual samples of your
work online that you can show to interviewers.

Robert, why do you think Acrobat Pro in particular would be useful? I
use it myself and it's handy, particularly for managing reviews, but
it wouldn't be in my top five tools for an aspiring TW.

--- Stuart

From: Robert Lauriston
To: TECHWR-L Writing
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2015 18:16:30 -0700

As a hiring manger, the only thing I care about is experience.

Find an open-source project that you can write documentation for, or
any other volunteer work where you can write technical documentation,
or an internship.

Adobe software is very expensive even with a student discount. The one
app that might be worth it is Acrobat Pro.

Learn more about Adobe Technical Communication Suite (2015 Release) |


You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-leave -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Looking for articles on Technical Communications? Head over to our online magazine at

Looking for the archived Techwr-l email discussions? Search our public email archives @

Previous by Author: Article about NASA technical writers?
Next by Author: Re: Ask for a raise? Or pack my bags?
Previous by Thread: Re: Future Tech Writer with Software Questions
Next by Thread: Re: Future Tech Writer with Software Questions

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads