Re: what's a senior tech writer?-Long

Subject: Re: what's a senior tech writer?-Long
From: Karen Gwynn/Datatel <Karen_Gwynn -at- DATATEL -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 1996 07:51:51 EDT


At Datatel we don't currently have good written job descriptions for our tech
writers, but we do have a notion of a "senior" writer as well as the title.

We have been advertising lately, too, and although I don't believe that our ad
says "senior," in our minds that is what we are looking for. To us that means
someone who had been a technical writer, preferably in the software industry,
for 3-5 years. We are looking for someone who has experience with, or at least
the capability to, plan their own projects and manage them. We need people who
are familiar with both the software development cycle and the documentation
development cycle. We need self starter who can take a minimum amount of
guidance and "mentoring" and get the job done. We are not looking for an entry
level person or someone who will need a lot of hand holding (that is only
because we don't have the resources to dedicate to such a person; this is _not_
to say that such a person is not a good employee).

With that said, our title, "Senior Documentation Specialist," means someone at
Datatel with those qualifications and more. Yes, some of it has to do with
tenure at the company, but not always (although I've been here the longest of
the current staff, someone else was promoted before I was). To be a Senior
Documentation Specialist you have to have demonstrated a thorough knowledge of
all aspects of the job here--planning, writing, editing, coordinating
production, and general planning of a documentation project. You need a
thorough understanding of our standards, and a proponent of them. You need a
thorough understanding of our systems and processes. You also need to have
demonstrated leadership abilities. That typically means that you have lead a
documentation project--and usually a major one.

Comparing my "duties" to the duties of the other tech writers on the project
that I am on (where I am the lead writer): We all have our books to plan,
write, and manage. I, however, am responsible for "the big documentation
picture." I make sure that common elements are taken care of, that the other
writers don't forget to index their books (and to teach them how!), I
coordinate with our copy center all our delivery requirements, and I field
general inquiries about the status of the documentation (including distributing
copies of the beta doc, which we keep tight control over). I sweat the details
of the overall project, not just my books!

Outside of the project, I am often the point of contact for any documentation
question that arises from other areas (that's both a factor of my title and my
tenure), I serve on several committees where documentation is represented, and
I serve as an informal mentor to other documentation specialist. I am also
involved in the interviewing process for all documentation specialists (which
means I often get phone calls and visits from people who have questions about
areas that I am most familiar with--often a lot of tools questions).

So, does that give you a better idea about what a senior tech writer does???

Karen Gwynn
kwg -at- datatel -dot- com

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