RE: "Software Technical Writing is a Dying Career"

Subject: RE: "Software Technical Writing is a Dying Career"
From: "David Artman" <david -at- davidartman -dot- com>
To: "Simon North" <simonxml -at- gmail -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 Aug 2015 12:58:08 -0700

(Don't take this too negatively... but I can't resist, sir.)

> -------- Original Message --------
> From: Simon North <simonxml -at- gmail -dot- com>
>
> ...we are desperate to find technical writers who are not afraid
> to dive into the code and can write code themselves if need be.

I imagine that it is VERY hard to find that sort of candidate...
considering that what you describe is a software engineer with extensive
writing and production tools experience. NOT a "technical writer" who
can "write code." Especially given the complexity of your company's
products! :)

Of course, if you're listing that "technical writer" job at about $180K,
you might get some quality candidates. But if you're going "senior tech
writer, must be able to read code" at the 'normal' rates... yeah, good
luck.

I once ran into the same situation at a Major Statistical Software
Company, where one of its co-founders wanted to hire a "tech writer who
can do statistics, particularly to make examples of complex models". At
normal, local rates for that company (respectable... for a tech writer).

By the end of the phone interview, I was advising the hiring manager to
pursue mathematics professors with good publication records, and suck up
the time and costs to train him or her on tools and production
processes. I was happy to come on board, and would take night classes in
stats to to become more expert. I even suggested consulting with local
professors to make the examples (I mean, come on... how many are needed,
versus ALL the other documentation of processes and controls?!).

Within a few weeks, the job listing changed. :)
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