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It's a statistical thing. I think the term is "regression to the mean".
Being a great tech writer is (perhaps) independent from
knowing a particular DTP system.
Say (in mathematical hypothetical fashion) there are four
DTP systems, equally often used. To simplify the math, let's
only allow one DTP system per applicant.
If your company is willing to consider writers who don't have
experience on a particular tool, you get to pick the best
writer out of a population that's four times as large as the
company that only considers writers who have experience
with the particular package. The best writer in a group of
40 is probably better than the best writer in a group of 10,
all else being equal. And if the 10 are part of the 40, then
the best in the 40 is certainly no worse than the best in the
10(worst case - the best is one of the 10, and thus also one
of the 40).
So the question you have to ask is: is the advantage
of tool-specific experience worth the cost of a smaller
pool of applicants?
And I can't answer that for you - it depends on the number
of applicants and the differences between the tools in the
particular job. Typing raw text is just about the same in
Interleaf and Word, but designing templates is very different.
It also depends on whether excellence is important. There
are probably several adequate writers in both the 10 and
the 40, but the best in the larger group is likely to be better
than the best in the smaller group.
From: Janet Valade[SMTP:jvalade -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com]
Sent: Friday, March 15, 1996 2:46 AM
To: Multiple recipients of list TEC
Subject: Re: FrameMaker Required
>(As to the latter point: Take the pool of candidates who are good
>technical writers. Assume that a certain percentage are GREAT
>technical writers. Now discard most of them because of some arbitrary
>criterion, such as prior experience with a previous DTP system. The
>remaining pool is smaller, and the odds that a great technical writer
>remains have also been greatly reduced.)
It's not clear to me why you are assuming that most of the GREAT
technical writers would not have experience with your tool.