Re: Obsession with University Degrees?

Subject: Re: Obsession with University Degrees?
From: John Gough <gough -at- AUSTIN -dot- ASC -dot- SLB -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 24 Sep 1996 10:36:10 -0500

Eric Haddock wrote:
> I've seen people refused because they didn't have any degree but did have
>writing experience and at the same place people hired without hardly any
>writing experience but who did have a wholly unrelated degree.

That could simply be EOE compliance. If you post a position
as *requiring* a degree, you must in fact hire someone with
a degree. If you want to hire someone who does not have
a "required" qualification, you have to withdraw the posting,
change it, and repost it. The feds are simply trying to
keep employers from using bogus requirements as tools of
discrimination. To avoid the trap, be sure the degree
requirement is qualified by "or x years of relevant experience."
(Even that wording plays it a little close to
the edge.)

I encountered such a situation once, but we kept looking rather
than change the job description. The candidate was good, but
not great. I have respect for people who are self-taught,
but being self-taught isn't a guarantee of quality either.
I've had encounters with people who have managed
to keep themselves employed for 20+ years without a degree,
but they didn't really make the grade. They sure could talk
a good game, but ultimately they didn't produce.

We keep coming back to the same idea: no single factor guarantees
that someone is a good technical writer.

When people ask me how to get into technical writing, I tell
them to take courses first. I would like our profession to have
more of a common intellectual base. There are practical things
to learn in rhetoric, cognitive psychology, writing, and
visual design.

John Gough gough -at- austin -dot- asc -dot- slb -dot- com
Technical Consultant johngough -at- aol -dot- com
Schlumberger -- Austin Product Center C1.147 -- (512) 331-3656

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