Re: New slant: professionalism (long)

Subject: Re: New slant: professionalism (long)
From: Elna Tymes <etymes -at- LTS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 24 Apr 1998 10:16:20 -0700

Heather -

> I haven't had as much luck with writers who have created a cushy
> niche for themselves where they perform a basically clerical function
> with no responsibility for the final product and a reasonably good
> salary.

We keep coming back to what credentials mean in this business. I will
fight all the way to my last breath the idea that STC's certification
mean anything in this industry, or even that STC has an inherent right
to confer credentials on anyone. It's like assuming that the
all-but-defunct CDP certification means that a newbie programmer can
code effectively in Java and C++.

There are a lot of people who call themselves technical writers who have
taken the easy way out, and believe that the only proper way to do
technical writing is to have SME's do it first, then they edit and
format. That's not the way I operate, and it's not how my company
operates. However, in almost every new contract situation I'm up against
people who call themselves "senior technical writer" and demand high
hourly rates, then do as little as possible. It has to be tough for the
hiring manager to discern in interviews between those who basically
edit/format and those who actually dig for material.

However, I also know that there are 'minimal exertion' types in all
indusries, and I've seen a lot of them in the computer industry who call
themselves 'senior analyst' or something such, command high rates, and
then do as little as possible. They don't necessarily give the entire
classification of 'programmer' a bad name, any more than the layabout
technical writers give the entire job classification a bad name.

However, the same layabouts are as likely as the rest of us to be STC
members, to possess the credential-du-jour, to claim knowledge of the
latest tools, etc. My point is that, since there are good technical
writers and bad technical writers, why are we so sensitive to the fact
that there are SOME bad ones? There are far, far more good ones, just
as there are SOME bad programmers and far more good ones. And both good
and bad ones come with credentials, certificates, the right buzz words
on a resume, etc.

Granted, the same layabouts may have created an environment that YOU,
Superman/woman, get to correct. But there are similar job challenges in
just about every industry. I could point with (fear and) loathing to
similar situations in public education (been there, done that) and
newspapers (likewise), as well as a bunch of other industries I know
reasonably well. When you can fix the situation, good for you! When
you can't, you have the option to market your skills elsewhere.

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems

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