Re: Lament, johnbell

Subject: Re: Lament, johnbell
From: Dennis Meier <boisemeier -at- EXECU -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 6 Jun 1996 11:14:29 -0600

>Why is it that these high-tech companies posted job listings for programmers,
>engineers, UNIX support, etc. but "forgot" to post tech writer positions?
All >of
>the hot prospects I have were with companies that didn't post the openning.

>--- John Bell
> johnbell -at- mnsinc -dot- com

John, chalk it up to myopia. Years of training and experience in a
profession has the effect of making one blind to contributions beyond that
profession. In the twenty years I spent working as an engineer I came to
acquire an engineering perspective on all business problems. Engineers
listen to other engineers, and many high-tech companies are run by engineers.

I suspect the same filtering occurs with lawyers, doctors, accountants, and
others. How often have you heard an actor, for instance, cite their training
as the reason that they were able to (a) drive a race car, (b) run a
business, (c)pilot a plane, etc.? The relationship seems rather thin to
those of us who are not actors, but it probably makes complete sense to
another actor.

Times will change, and they will change to the benefit of those of us able
to recognize the enormous potential of the technical communications
profession as an agency for introducing newer technologies. We are rapidly
approaching the point where new technology offerings are being lost in the
"background noise" of other offerings. When business suffers because the
distinguishing characteristics of a technology cannot be readily
communicated by those lacking training in communications, then business will
begin to recognize the need for trained technical communicators, and act to
acquire them.

I remember attending a shareholder's meeting for a local high-tech company
earlier in the year. An executive in the company, an engineer by training,
gave a detailed overview of the company's product line that had people in
the audience looking at each other and raising their eyebrows. From the
perspective of a semiconductor engineer it was probably a riveting speech,
but from the perspective of the rest of us--I'm a nuclear engineer--it was
"noise." We were interested in the broad scope of where the company was
headed; these technical details didn't make the statement we wanted to hear.
The performance of the company's stock has been lackluster since.

The day will come when companies hunt just as actively for technical
communicators as they do for engineers and computer professionals. But it
will only come once it becomes much more apparent that the failure to
effectively communicate about technology is directly linked to failure in
the marketplace.

Dennis Meier, owner
Technical Communications Consulting

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