Re: Introduction and Tech Writing Horror Story [Long]

Subject: Re: Introduction and Tech Writing Horror Story [Long]
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 1997 08:38:14 -0700


A coworker once told me his philosophy in choosing jobs: "Always
look for a job where you will learn a great deal from your boss."
If you end up in a job that isn't like that, you need to keep
looking for a better one.

Supervisors and companies vary across the full spectrum from heaven
to hell. I've been both places. If you aren't eager to get to
work most days, it's time to start looking -- either restructuring
what you do inside your current company or by looking for a better
place. A bad job can take years off your life with stress. The
best companies have all the same pressures, but somehow they don't
hurt. There are places where the employees go home cheerful in
spite of some new crisis, and ones where people arrive pale and
stressed in spite of it being business as usual.

As for resumes, drop anything from your resume that gives concern
to the interviewers. Most people are very ignorant about writing,
and assume that people who want to write fiction are either hard-
drinking reporter types or pale, sensitive artist types. These
stereotypes confuse them, and are widespread enough that it's
difficult to sort the sheep from the lambs on the basis of the
presence or absence of the stereotype. Do yourself a favor and
dismiss any mention of fiction with an equally true but more general
statement. For example, surely your MfA in "fiction" is overly
specific. It could equally well be an MfA in "writing" or "liberal
arts." Many people with liberal arts or teaching backgrounds
go into tech writing. This will put you on familiar ground.

Similarly, give your reasons for leaving your previous job, if
they ask, as "low pay and no benefits" and "it was one of those
places that takes people right out of school and hardly pays
them anything." Don't badmouth your ex-supervisor. Absolutely
refuse to give any indication of what you were being paid, except
that is was embarrassingly low (and that you won't be making that
mistake again). Be reasonably forthcoming about what your salary
requirements are now, since interviewers find a complete absence of
salary information to be confusing. Emphasize that it gave you
valuable experience and that you worked with clients (many writers
are too shy to work easily with clients).

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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