Technical Certification

Subject: Technical Certification
From: David_Dubin -at- NOTES -dot- PW -dot- COM
Date: Fri, 10 May 1996 08:11:44 EDT

In a reply, Dan Martillotti stated, "You should not be concerned with whether
the individual is
an expert in Frame, Word, or RoboHelp... If there appears to be a problem with
the new writer learning or using the tools, YOU should send that writer to a
training class to learn the tool."

In theory, I agree with him. However, in practice, several factors interfere.
The first, and most important factor, is time. If we have a project for which
the deliverable is due on a certain date, and the person we hired does not have
the skills to run with the writing when they sit down at the screen, we do not
have time to train them, send them for training, or let them do OJT on the
writing platform. We need to get the deliverable out the door on that date,
period. The second factor is honesty. If a candidate says they can use Frame
and Authorware, and puts that on their resume, don't you think it is fair for
a manager to expect that they are able to sit down at that platform and be
productive within a day or two?

Perhaps I am way off the mark here, (and I am sure that y'all will tell me so
if you think it) but I believe that a **good** technical writer is a good
writer with certain software skills. As an industry, we do not write with
pencil and paper anymore, we use complicated and sophisticated software. We
also have deadlines that usually carry penalty clauses ($$$$$) if these
deadlines are not met. If a TW position is advertised that requires specific
software skills, it is incumbent on the hiring authority to ensure that the
candidate has those skills. It is also incumbent on the candidate to be honest
if he or she does not have those skills. To state that one is proficient in an
application when one is not, and to be hired on that statement alone could lead
to problems for that candidate, the candidate's manager, and the shop that
hired him or her.

On the other hand, if a TW position is advertised without software skills
requirements, then yes, the writer should be able to learn whatever
applications are used to produce docs.

David Dubin -at- notes -dot- pw -dot- com
This has been one man's opinion, yours may vary with mileage.

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