Re: PET PEEVE #3148

Subject: Re: PET PEEVE #3148
From: Herman Holtz <holtz -at- PALTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 08:22:49 -0400

>On Sun, 9 Jul 1995, David Richmond wrote:

>> Bob Morse (morse -at- inxpress -dot- net) wrote:
>> : Okay, folks, here's a new thread for y'all:
>> : Does anyone else get as aggravated as I do when browsing
>> : want ads for tech-writer positions, to find prospective
>> : employers specifying the brands/models of software tools as
>> : REQUIREMENTS for the positions? E.g.: "XYZ Corp. seeks
>> : user documentation specialist for its industry-leading
>> : SoftWidget software. Documentation experience preferred.
>> : Familiarity with MS Word [or WordPerf, or Pagemaker, etc.]
>> : a must."

In the days when almost all tech writing was writing manuals for the
military many employers tried to inist on a candidate knowing some
particular military writing specification--the detail spec, as well as the
general ones--to qualify for hire, or be familiar with some class of
hardware, such as radar or launch systems, despite the fact that most were
passing on their costs to the government under cost-plus contracts. It was
annoying then, too, because the experienced tech writer could work with any
spec and usually with an extremely broad range of equipment. However,
experienced and able tech writers were not in abundant supply, and a great
many had to be trained on the job. Some picked it up quickly, while others
never became very good at it. I guess it was Pareto's Law at work here, as
elsewhere, with not more than 20 percent top performers, and the rest
scattered along a spectrum from good to poor.

So I, for one, can understand employers' attitudes in this, although I can't
sympathize with it because it is self-defeating in assuming that experienced
and competent people can't adapt swiftly to changes.
Herman Holtz [holtz -at- paltech -dot- com] Marketing consultant, general and
technical writing services. Author 60+ books, including best-
selling How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant (John Wiley).
PO Box 1731, Wheaton, MD 20915. 301-649-2499; fax: 301-649-5745

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