Re: Techie First or Writer? -Reply

Subject: Re: Techie First or Writer? -Reply
From: Melissa Lowery <MLOWERY -at- GWM -dot- SC -dot- EDU>
Date: Thu, 10 Oct 1996 14:59:37 -0400

Soapbox mode <on>

It seems to me that many employers hiring technical writers have little or
no understanding of "how" we do what we do. They seem to think that
technical writing necessarily involves a particular application tool or set of
tools. They seem to miss the distinction between a word processor and
someone who processes words.

Reading job postings is often a very frustrating endeavor. You see a list
of 5 applications listed as "must-have's" and a passing mention of some
kind of writing training or proficiency thrown in as a afterthought. This
specificity seems very counterproductive if the real goal is to find
someone who can work as a productive technical writer. I have rarely
read an ad for a truck driver that says "must have 2-5 years experience
with Mack trucks delivering frozen foods." Instead, employers of truck
drivers usually want someone that knows the basics and can learn the
specifics.

Speaking from personal experience, I think potential employers are
cheating themselves when they skip over my resume because they are
specifically looking for someone with FrameMaker skills (or RoboHelp or
insert name of the tool du jour...). I'm sure there are many very talented
writers out there with Frame experience. Perhaps they will be hired.
There are also people out there with Frame knowledge and very little solid
writing experience. I fear that they are being hired because of an
employer's shortsightedness. Sure, the employer suffers in the end, but
meanwhile, I'm still looking for a job!

I again propose that the employers don't really understand what technical
writers do. It sometimes seems as if it's just easier for them to make a
grocery list of all of the applications the last tech writer knew and turn
that into the new job posting. To do otherwise might require some actual
knowledge of what it really takes to do our jobs: specific skills pertaining
to WRITING.

Soapbox mode <off>

Melissa Lowery
mlowery -at- gwm -dot- sc -dot- edu
USC CSD Contractual Software Services


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