FrameMaker Required (Was: Re: Interleaf and Sun work stations)

Subject: FrameMaker Required (Was: Re: Interleaf and Sun work stations)
From: Jim Grey <jimgrey -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 13 Mar 1996 09:24:00 EST

Robert Plamondon <robert -at- plamondon -dot- com> laments poor hiring criteria:
>The thing that brought Bad Tech Pubs Departments(TM) to mind (and
>caused me to digress from my central digression) was an experience a
>friend of mine had -- she is a highly talented writer, with tons of valuable
>experience. Few potential employers seemed aware of this. Instead, the
>central question seemed to be, "Do you have experience with FrameMaker?"

>There were clearly two pieces of simultaneous brain-failure going
>on in these people's minds:

>1. The most important skill a technical writer has is desktop
> publishing. Experience in technical writing is more or less
> irrelevant.

>2. Some fundamental barrier exists that makes it impractical to
> train experienced technical writers in the DTP package du jour.

I've never worked for a company that planned well enough ahead to hire temps
at any other time than the last minute. When the deadline looms, managerial
minds think, "There's no time to train a temp in Interleaf, so we'd better
just use this person I found who already knows Interleaf." Fretfully, I
ask, "Yes, but does this candidate have the needed writing experience?"
"Well, s/he has written documentation before," the manager tentatively
offers. Well, I've written code before, but that experience doesn't
automatically qualify me for a temporary position on the software
development team.

A manager at one of my former employers was deathly afraid of Interleaf. In
those rare cases we looked for temporary or permanent help, he got the most
excited about resumes that cited Interleaf experience. "We wouldn't have to
train them!" I regularly reminded him that I learned enough about Interleaf
in my first week to be fairly productive.

We can keep reminding our managers at hiring time that the tools aren't hard
to learn, and that skills learned in one DTP package can usually be
transferred to another. This won't solve the problem, but may make it less

jim grey
jim grey |beebeebumbleandthestingersmottthehoopleraycharlessingers
jimgrey -at- iquest -dot- net|lonniemackandtwangin'eddiehere'smyringwe'regoingsteadyta
My vanity page is now online! Oh boy!

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