Job description?

Subject: Job description?
From: Win Day <winday -at- CML -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 08:47:03 -0500

To: techwr-l -at- vm1 -dot- ucc -dot- okstate -dot- edu


KK> writer and begin to be something more. I have worked for Xerox for
KK> over 6 years, and in that time the Documentation Analysts (as we are
KK> called) have had the responsibility of taking a design concept from
KK> an engineer or programmer, analyzing what the actual product,
KK> circuit, or program does and document that design concept. Depending
KK> on our audience, we could be asked to document how a certain
KK> something works, and how it is used efficiently. This we call
KK> Customer Documentation. We may document how to go about fixing that
KK> certain something, and would actually have to do the analysis of how
KK> it breaks, when it breaks, and what else would break as a result, as
KK> well as how to go about fixing it. This we called Service
KK> Documentation. We may even be asked to determine the best way to
KK> explain the certain something to Service personnel, we might have to
KK> analyze what parts of a certain something would need to be
KK> trained.This we called Training Documentation. The key in all these
KK> things is that here at Xerox we are asked to actually analyze what
KK> we will write. We cannot just take a circuit drawn by an engineer,
KK> and just by looking at it, create documentation to fix the circuit.
KK> We must analyze the circuit, fail it for ourselves, see what
KK> reaction it has on the rest of the system, and then create logical
KK> documentation to find the given problem.
KK> (DEEP BREATH) So, what would my current position at XEROX be called
KK> in some of your companies? Is there an equivalent? or is this
KK> company the only one that couples "engineering" type work
KK> (Maintenance Planning, or troubleshooting analysis) with Technical
KK> Writing? Is there a certain Job Title I should be looking for in ads
KK> and job postings other than Technical Writer? Is there a typical Job
KK> Title for someone who does the analyzing portion of my job? If so
KK> what are they called?

My "title" is technical writer/editor because that's what I call myself
(I freelance). My current contract has me documenting some very
specialized process control software. I have to sit down with the
software as a user would, work my way through it, prepare the context-
specific help screens, keep note of where the software doesn't work
the way it's supposed to, and eventually turn out a user manual and
reference text for it.

I'm a chemical process engineer by training. I never would have gotten
my foot in the door to do this work if I didn't have either process
engineering or control systems engineering in my history. The SME's are
gone about half the time, so there usually isn't anyone around to answer
my questions. I have to be able to plow my way through it myself most of
the time. So I end up doing as much analyzing as writing. I also do all
my own project management, graphics, and production, and that also chews
up a lot of billable hours.

But I am indeed a technical writer. That's what they pay me for. Bottom
line is, you can call yourself pretty much what you want. (BTW, I bring
home more per hour as a freelance technical writer than I did as a
salaried engineer...) If you're really asking if you should be getting
paid more because you're doing more "technical" work than "just
writing", you'll have to fight that out with Xerox.

They should be paying you what you're worth to them. Ask HR for a list
of internal job descriptions (and pay scales if they'll let you have
that). Figure out where you belong on that scale, and go fight for it.
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