Jobs Future for Technical Communication

Subject: Jobs Future for Technical Communication
From: "USA::MU17692" <MU17692%USA -dot- decnet -at- USAV01 -dot- GLAXO -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 1994 16:04:00 EST

I am a very active Job Banks Manager for the Carolina Chapter
of the Society for Technical Communication (STC). I have met with
many people who are in search of work and I have talked to many
people looking for technical communicators. I have detected a
clear and unpleasant pattern: companies are hiring fewer and
fewer people, choosing instead to contract work from people through
agencies. The agencies skim a percentage, anywhere from 5 to 60
percent, of the billed rate. The contract communicator gets the

Three colleagues and I have formed a sub-chapter S corporation.
(We call it O'Meghan Corporation, named after my daughter,
Meghan.) This corporation will act as *our own* agency. We
will be our own account representatives. I don't know if it will
work. But I find it repugnant that so many companies refuse to
hire technical communicators directly. Agencies often make money
they don't deserve. I'll give you an example. *I* have brought
together companies and people they want, but then have been told
by the company, or the communicator has been told by the company,
to choose an agency through which to work! *We* call the agency:
here, please take my money.

I envision O'Meghan Corporation as a kind of technical
communicator cooperative. I hope to bring into our fold other
technical communicators and programmers. The percentage of
billings that O'Meghan takes will be only for expenses. It
will act as a non-profit, thought legally it may not have
that status and will file financial documents as a for-profit

In the long run, I believe many companies that are now jumping on
the "out-sourcing" bandwagon or are already on it, will regret it.
They are creating a class of entrepreneurial, mercenary technical
people. Our loyalty will be to our own tribe, not to any articifial
construct such as IBM or AT&T.

Tools such as the Internet and fiber optic communication will unite
us into a powerful professional group. As a colleague of mine, Sue
McCullough, says, "Don't mess with a writer." Amen, sister.

Technical communicators of the world unite! Let's kick some free
market butt.

-Mike Uhl (uhl~m -at- glaxo -dot- com
Glaxo Inc. Research Institute
Research Triangle Park, NC

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