FWD: RE: predicting successful writers

Subject: FWD: RE: predicting successful writers
From: "Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 27 Oct 1997 10:09:03 -0700

Forwarded on request. Eric


According to Radford surveys in Silicon Valley, the job function of
"writing user guides"--that is, creating original text from scratch on your
own--is the HIGHEST skill set a technical writer performs. In other words,
what you have described is a job description for a _senior_ level technical
writer. An entry level writer's work (like it or not) would be more along
the lines of updating an existing manual, editing a document to check for
compliance with your corporate style guide, or integrating new material
into an existing manual. Asking a entry level person to do all that you
mention below may be a wonderful opportunity for some ambitious budding
tech writer, but, while you may be able to get someone to agree to
undertake that kind of work on an entry-level salary, without evidence that
the person you hire can do the work you ask for, you have no way to
determine if that work with actually get done. In the end, you may have to
let that "entry-level" person go and hire someone else. As I'm sure you're
aware, re-hiring is very expensive--not to mention the lost time! If you
advertise for a mid-level writer you may be able to find a happy medium,
and still get a "bargain" for your company. However, unless you pay people
what they're worth, you're unlikely to attract or keep any professional
writer you hire.
In answer to your first question, a good entry level candidate would be
someone with no professional technical experience but with an aptitude for
science and technology and a strong background in some type of
_professional_ writing. Say, a former newspaper editor, composition
instructor, or graduate student who wrote their own papers (and has more
than one to show you).
Good luck.

Eric J. Ray ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com
TECHWR-L Listowner http://www.raycomm.com/

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