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:>Given the choice, I would prefer a job candidate with experience in the field,
:>and so would any employer. I think that's normal and reasonable.
I agree, if one could have an expert on the topic AND an excellent writer in
the gamble, why would one want to hire anyone else?
However, I think the point is that, at least in theory!, a technical writer
is trained to be concerned about the needs of an audience and is very aware
of the necessity to literally serve as a translator or interpreter for the
audience. The tech writer usually has a single mission: give the audience a
document that presents the info the audience needs, in terms the audience can
understand. A tech writer has a background in eeking information out of
people who talk in technobabble and like it :) A real pro tech writer has a
battle plan, he/she has experience in HOW to extract the information, digest
it, and present it in the form of a functional document, never mind pinpoint
exactly what their assignment is all about in first place! This is not
something just anyone can do, not because they are lacking in writing talent,
but because they have no idea of what they are supposed to be doing. In that
respect, the tech writer (with a tech writing background and no real
experience on a certain topic) can turn out an usable document that
meets the needs of employer AND audience, and does so more efficiently than
the person who has all the info but no clear idea of how to present it.
I agree with you, background-wise, it makes sense to hire a medical writer to
produce a medical document. Such a person would have some of the homework
already done, compared to, say, a writer who specializes in writing docs for
computer software companies. HOWEVER, the investigative tricks used by a
software doc writer and a medical writer are going to have many common
elements, elements which those individuals can use to tackle a new subject
matter whether it is familiar, vaguely familiar, or totally alien. That's
why they, as professional writers, are a better choice than just a good old
"expert" that has knowledge but no writing experience.