RE: Interesting job description

Subject: RE: Interesting job description
From: <mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com>
To: "'Keith Hood'" <bus -dot- write -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 8 Oct 2016 16:11:12 -0400

Sorry, but I have been in the room when these decisions were being made. Knowledge is the lifeblood of a company in the knowledge economy and you keep the people who hold unique corporate knowledge. That can include tech writers if they have that knowledge, as Robert has pointed out. I have experienced the same thing myself.

It is also true that there are some things that you can let slide during a downturn to preserve cash, and docs is one of them. But the reason you can let it slide is that you can ramp up the docs function again relatively quickly when the downturn is over, much more quickly than you could ramp up engineering if you had let you best engineers and everything they know walk out the door.

Salespeople, by the way, have some of the most valuable corporate knowledge: they know the customers. They know who will buy and who will not. They also have the relationships with the client base that are crucial to maintain through a downturn. These things move the needle a lot, which is why salespeople are well paid.

And while the principle function of the CEO is not just to schmooze the SEC and investors, those two things can move the needle far more than the work of any one engineer, one even of the entire engineering staff. If the CEO cannot secure the financing needed to bring a product to market, there will be no money to pay the engineers and no product will get created. But the CEO is also responsible for deciding what markets the company will be in. CEO decisions like Blackberry not going after the consumer smartphone market moved the needle far more that all the work of all the engineers and writers at Blackberry combined. Not in the right direction of course, but Steve Jobs decision to enter the consumer smart phone market certainly moved the needle for Apple.

At the end of the day, we all work for shareholders. Shareholders employ us to generate returns on their investment. The more we move the needle, the more they are willing to pay us. A certain degree of sentiment may enter into their decisions as well, but companies that get too sentimental get put out of business by their less sentimental competition.


From: Keith Hood [mailto:bus -dot- write -at- gmail -dot- com]
Sent: Saturday, October 8, 2016 3:33 PM
To: Mark Baker <mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com>
Cc: techwr-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Subject: Re: Interesting job description

"As to why tech writers are the first to be let go in a downturn"

You are wrong. Tech writers are always in the first wave of layoffs because their work is seen by bean counters as being non value added. Never mind how important documentation may be. Tech writers are always (or at least, too often) seen as being outside the pale because the company can't put a price tag on their output and advertise it for sale. That is 99.999% of the reason tech writers have so much turnover. And part of the reason they are so often seen as expendable, as second-class citizens, is because of the kind of employee caste system that YOU have defended.

"the more your value is based on what you know, the better off you are."

Road apples. If that were true, companies would lay off salesmen before engineers and tech writers. Knowledge has never protected any TW from RIFfing.

But the most telling part of your post, I think, is this passage:

" CEOs move the needle more than programmers"

So, according to you, a CEO whose primary function is to schmooze the SEC and investors turns out more marketable product than an engineer? A CEO is more responsible for making a product better and therefore more valuable than a QA tester? I think we now know everything we need to know about how you think.

Visit TechWhirl for the latest on content technology, content strategy and content development |


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 @

Interesting job description: From: Keith Hood
RE: Interesting job description: From: mbaker
RE: Interesting job description: From: mbaker
Re: Interesting job description: From: Kathleen MacDowell
RE: Interesting job description: From: mbaker
Re: Interesting job description: From: Keith Hood

Previous by Author: RE: Interesting job description
Next by Author: RE: Interesting job description
Previous by Thread: Re: Interesting job description
Next by Thread: Re: Interesting job description

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

Sponsored Ads