Re: Job Futures for Tech Writing

Subject: Re: Job Futures for Tech Writing
From: Elna -dot- Tymes -at- SYNTEX -dot- COM
Date: Mon, 5 Dec 1994 10:39:01 PDT

In article <Pine -dot- 3 -dot- 07 -dot- 9411301029 -dot- B19634-b100000 -at- dante>, <rositze -at- nmsu -dot- edu>
> Newsgroups: bit.listserv.techwr-l

>> I am in the process of investigating tech writing jobs, and I have had
>> several people in the business state that the future (and near future at
>> that) of techwriting is primarily in contract work.

> I've heard this also. I would be interested--and perhaps others would also
> be--in learning more about the experiences of those who are involved in
> contract work. Will it provide steady employment, i.e., can one be
> self-supportive or do you need a second income from some other source to
> make it? How do you obtain contracts? I know at least one writer is
> using an online resume to obtain contracts. What about others? Or other
> ways to get the word out? How much time do you spend marketing your
> skills? I'm sure there are numerous other questions that might apply, but
> these are starters.

I've been doing contract work, mostly, for about 15 years - and now have a
company of people who are doing contract tech writing with and for me. There
are real risks involved - when an area's economy goes sour, you can be without
anything to do for months. However, the limitations of one geographical area's
economy are beginning to melt, given the net and more common acceptance of the
idea of a virtual workplace. I've been quite self-supportive on a contract
income, and in fact have raised two boys as a single mother, and in Palo Alto
(read: EXPENSIVE cost of living) while doing so. The method you use to
market yourself will vary by location, but here in Silicon Valley there are a
number of good agencies who place contract tech writers routinely. When I know

a contract is ending, I spend about two hours keeping a fax machine happy, and
the queries start coming in immediately. Contractors live and die by their
resumes, and these days most resumes are scanned in so headhunters can apply
keyword searches, so I make sure my resume has the most current set of keywords

right up near the top where they can be most easily found.

In terms of money, the people in my company are making more money this year
than they ever have, and all of it is from contracting.

My company also now has a home page on the web:
or, where we list our resumes in an
interactive form so people can see a small version of the kinds of stuff we can
do. We've had inquiries from this already and it's only been up for about
three weeks and it's the traditional slow time of the year.

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems

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