Re: Workpersonship

Subject: Re: Workpersonship
From: Doug Parr <dougparr -at- INTEGRITYONLINE9 -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998 19:46:39 -0600

I think we all realize that technical writers get no respect. Consider why this is true.
When a business puts out a want ad for experienced coders, experienced coders apply. When an airline puts out a want ad for pilots, experienced pilots apply. When a business calls for machinists, machinists apply.
But who responds for technical writing positions? I've interviewed waitresses, disc jockeys, insurance sellers, and schlock artists. Everyone thinks he or she can be a technical writer. That's not so bad. What's bad is, companies hire these guys and make them technical writers. Only one other profession bestows its full title on its practitioners the first day they come to work.
Given these circumstances, is anyone surprise to encounter dismal technical writing?
Who can hire a good technical writer? A personnel manager? I don't think so. An engineer? No way. Only a good tech writer can do it. So if we want to change the world, we have to get good. Then we have to hire well. Nothing else will do. I don't ask a candidate for a writing position for 7 years experience with MS Word. I ask, "Can you write?" If a person's resume exhibits any of the signs of atrocious writing (obvious typos, pretentious jargon, or--worst of all--slashes between words), it goes into the trash. Give me a good writer, and I'll make a good technical writer.

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