Re: What is the optimal number of technical writers for a company according to number of employees

Subject: Re: What is the optimal number of technical writers for a company according to number of employees
From: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2017 14:10:19 -0400

Replying to myself here ...

I asked Nick Corcodilos ("Ask the Headhunter") to look at the question and to critique my answer, and he replied:

"I think your answer fairly represents reality. Perhaps another answer is to fire
all the HR people and make recruiting and hiring a... cough-cough... MANAGEMENT function.

"I'd post that to the forum, but I'm not a member and [it] would not be appropriate for
me to join. Feel free to quote me :-)."

I think I get part of my jaundiced view of hiring from Nick, and another part from my wife's experiences in trying to hire appropriate* lab personnel at various companies, but the rest comes directly from sleazy recruiters and from HR.

Nick's current newsletter suggests a method, "Strike back & stir the pot," for helping to correct bad recruiting practices.

(*) Just in case anyone wonders what kind of people might be

inappropriate< lab personnel, they are the ones who are for some reason
immune to being fired and who deliberately destroy lab glassware and high-precision analytical balances. HR tells the manager, "I'm sorry, there is nothing we or you can do." Mere mention of HR to my wife sends her into spewing vitriol. Imagine trying to do analytical quality control work without the analytical balance. We writers have things so easy, so very easy, but like the QC people we are also seen as unnecessary or even as an impediment to production; hence the small number of us in places where more might be better.


On Tue, 04 Apr 2017 09:04:55 -0400, Peter Neilson <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net> wrote:

On Tue, 04 Apr 2017 03:06:36 -0400, yehoshua paul <ysp10182 -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

Last week, I was approached by an HR person from a large SAAS company with
offices in both Israel and the bay area looking to fill the position of a
junior technical writer. Requirements two years experience plus lots of
other stuff no one with two years experience was likely to possess, but I did.
The company has roughly 500 employees, no existing tech writer staff and
one knowledge manager, there was no intention of hiring more than one tech
writer, and the pay was roughly similar to what I currently earn as the
lone technical writer in a company of 40 employees. I politely turned down
the opportunity.
This got me thinking about what is the optimal number of technical writers
for a company that size.
Does anyone know if there is any metric examining this issue? If you have x
number of developers, qa, and customer support, how many technical writers
should the company ideally employ? Assume the workaholics and slackers
cancel each other out.

Anyone ever think about this?

One must wonder how the large company decides whether it needs any tech writers at all, and what it has for criteria in making decisions about the tech writing job.

My jaundiced view is that someone with a genuine need requested a tech writer, knowing what was required. The request went to HR, where the HR people pulled rabbits out of their job-description hat until they found one that didn't cost very much. "Junior position. Two years' experience. Lots of qualifications (none of which we understand, except MS Word) so that we are not inundated with applications."

The requisition will remain open for several months, and the need will have vanished, or been filled by some developer working overtime.

Later, much later, you or I will find ourselves applying for that same position, weirdly misrepresented through some misguided headhunter, only to learn that the position, still advertised as open, is no longer open.

Isn't there some better way? I think there is a golden opportunity there for someone who knows what to do, and I don't mean knowing how to do tech writing.
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Re: What is the optimal number of technical writers for a company according to number of employees: From: Peter Neilson

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