salaries & respect & other jib -- one mo' time

Subject: salaries & respect & other jib -- one mo' time
From: John Stamps <stampsj -at- REMEDY -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 08:33:22 -0700

Hi Jim, Melissa, & all other tech writers not lucky enough to be living in The
Silicon Valley right now --

My ruminations on a couple of related threads...

> Holy freakin' cow! The same is *NOT* happening in Indiana.

Yeah but houses don't START at $200K in Indiana.

> Seriously though, it is really depressing to be sitting in a place that
> considers tech writers to be a luxury. Most of the companies in town that
> probably need one just give the job to a programmer or a netowrking
> specialist (who are, by the way, paid well to do their REAL jobs). I guess
> unless I'm willing to pick up and move to CA, I'm outta luck!

As I eavesdrop various conversations here on the techwr-l list and in the
hallways here, I notice a couple of things:

* We here at Remedy are finding much the same thing in hiring new candidates.
Our 6 year old company currently has 350+ employees with 20 writers, and we're
looking to DOUBLE next year! Most candidates perceive an exceedingly hot market
and are asking $70K or more, causing a wee bit of consternation among us NOT
currently making $70K. Although my stock options more than make up for any
salary deficits. And many people here in the Valley are willing to work for
less pay for the possibility of striking it rich with the right start-up.

* I'm not sure how any us writers measure our relative worth. Because our
company & group has grown so fast, techpubs had an off-site last week just to
get to know each other. By and large it was pretty good, although we had to
create a Mission & Vision Statement for techpubs was (and is!) something
straight out of Dilbert. Yuk. One undertone evident to me was people don't feel
empowered, respected, etc. I'm utterly baffled by the feeling of the lack of
empowerment on the part of my peers.

I wonder if it's simply a matter of individuals not getting their way all the
time. I work VERY closely with development and QA and consider them esteemed
allies, valuable assets, pretty OK buds, etc. and when my peers describe
certain problems & issues, I'm wondering if I even work at the same company
with them, like some Twilight Zone Alternate Universe.

Like Rebeccah Philipps noted:

> I have gotten reasonable to good treatment as a technical writer at most of
my > jobs.
> A lot of it has to do with having pride in my work and confidence in what I
> do. When I finish a book I am proud of I make sure people know about it.

> I also "hang out" with the engineers more than with the other technical
> writers, whether during lunch time or just in the hallways. Sometimes
> I listen in on technical discussion about implementation, and throw in a
> couple of comments that show I know what I am talking about.

> I am also realistic about my goals and I make an effort to write good quality
> documentation.

It's very important IMHO NOT to have a Tech Pubs "uber alles" or Tech Pubs
"contra mundum" mentality. Otherwise, you're just setting yourself up for a
miserable existence as a writer & maybe even as a human being. For some twisted
reason, I believe with all my heart that EVERY THING I DO as a writer
contributes to the overall good of the company. (Yeah yeah I'm brainwashed by
our own PR...)

In all fairness, I do know I didn't feel that way at other companies I have
worked for.

FWIW out here in Bucolic California,
jean robert etamps l'orthodoxe cou rouge and the pollyanna of Remedy technical

St John The Exorcist of UNIX/NT Daemons
aka John Stamps Remedy Corporation
Senior Technical Writer 415-254-5309

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