Re: technical Writing Skills

Subject: Re: technical Writing Skills
From: mpriestley -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 1995 11:30:34 EST

Geoffrey Marnell writes:
>Judging by the advertisements for technical writers - contractors and
>permanents - the principal skill sought is technical expertise or
>knowledge (often of some programming language or operating system).
>Writing skills appear to take the back seat. In view of the fact that it
>can take a moderately intelligent person weeks to master a new system,
>but years to master clarity and precision in writing, this ranking of
>skills seems, on the face of it, a trifle perverse. What do technical

I'm not sure if it is a ranking of skills, so much as an attempt to cut down
on the number of applicants. If you ask for someone with "excellent writing
skills", everyone and their brother Tom will reply (even with only grade 4
English and a report card that says "little Tommy is showing progress with
the alphabet). If you ask for someone with, eg, C++ programming experience
with OS/2, then you've weeded your applicants down to a smaller number, which
you can then search for good writers.

The problem is that "excellent writing skills" is not a useful delimiter for
job postings, because _everyone_ thinks they're a good writer. So you
might as well not bother saying it, even though you still look for it in the
applications you receive.

Just hazarding a guess here, since I don't personally write job postings....

Michael Priestley
mpriestley -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com
Disclaimer: speaking on my own behalf, not IBM's.

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