Re: What Defines "Entry-Level"?

Subject: Re: What Defines "Entry-Level"?
From: Penn Brumm <penn -at- HEALTHEON -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998 10:32:04 -0700

Hi - my .02:

One of the things that appears to be missing in this thread is "knowledge of
subject." Having been one, I believe that most hiring managers want to know if
you have any knowledge of the area in which they need help. The fact that you
can write is a plus, as is the fact that you have experience in writing.

However, IMHO, people who want to break into writing about a subject area could
certainly find the time to take a couple of classes at a local junior
college/city college/private training center/adult education night classes.

For example, if you're interested in documenting software, take an introductory
course in one of the languages and the more common tools. Check out the books
that the instructor recommends as text for those courses (who do you think WROTE
those books?). Listen to what the instructor says about the book. Buy a couple
of beginner's books and check the TOCs, the text, the indices, the style of
writing, etc.

You'll find yourself a lot more salable and able to intelligently discuss the
subject matter. This raises you out of the basic entry level.


- - - - - -

Janet Valade wrote:

> >Specifically, when one is seeking to enter the technical
> communications
> >field, what defines "Entry-Level"?
> The hiring manager defines Entry-level so there is no single answer.
> > As background, I have a BA in journalism and English (Indiana
> ...
> > of often complex medical -and- legal issues.
> >
> If you are trying to obtain a job documenting software or hardware, some
> managers are going to consider your writing experience insufficient.
> Personally, I don't see it that way. I believe a writer is a writer and can
> write in whatever style is required. I consider the fact that you have
> written in 3 very different styles (English department academic,
> journalistic, legal) as sufficient evidence that you are a writer and that
> you can learn the style required pretty quickly given some examples to work
> from.
> > Since July of last year,
> > when the appeals job went south, I've been trying to make a go of a
> > freelance writing and editorial concern, which hasn't really gotten off
> > the ground. Not much call for writers and editors in NE Pennsylvania, I
> > guess.
> >
> You will not be able to freelance writing software documentation with no
> experience. You will need to get some experience first.
> > I'm computer savvy, and I'm working hard to teach myself the tools and
> > workings of the TC trade.
> >
> I would be more concerned about this aspect. I would need to know more
> about what "computer savvy" means before I could say whether I would hire
> you as entry or mid. A good writer who has always used a pencil is just not
> what I need. A tech writer in the computer field needs to be quite
> technical. If you have never done any of the complicated word
> processing/desktop publishing tasks on a computer, I would consider you
> entry level. If you know templates, footnotes, books, variable fields,
> fonts, macros, etc., then you might be mid. Also, you need to be able to
> understand the technology you are writing about, so it would depend on what
> I was hiring you to document.
> > I want to learn how to do it and believe I
> > -can-. But I don't yet have direct experience in these forms of
> > writing.
> >
> Depending on how quickly you need a job, there are some things you can do:
> 1. take a techwriting class or two. It will show that you are serious
> about the career; that you know something about the job; and will give you
> some samples to show.
> 2. write some software documentation, an exercise, documenting some
> software, as a sample for your portfolio.
> > If a job posting
> > asks for five years' experience in technical writing, would I be deluded
> > in thinking I have it,
> probably
> > or at least some level of background that
> > translates into an ability to write on complex subjects for a living?
> this is true, and you just need to be in the right spot at the right time.
> A hiring manager with an immediate need and you are the person with the best
> qualifications and the closest fit who is available.
> Janet
> ----
> Janet Valade
> Technical Writer
> Systech Corporation, San Diego, CA
> mailto:janetv -at- systech -dot- com

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