Re: How to find first tw job?

Subject: Re: How to find first tw job?
From: "E. Gail Miedema" <egail -at- TELEPORT -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 11:01:39 -0700

Here's what worked for me.

1) I read every book that I could find in the local library about
technical writing, limiting the selection to those published in
the last 20 years. This numbered about 14 books.

2) I reviewed about 10 books on resume writing, and found one that
was geared to help those with sketchy backrounds. I highly
recommend it and still use it today. (_Resume Power: Selling
Yourself on Paper_ by Tom Washington.)

3) I took a couple of summer technical writing courses at the local
university making sure the topics covered *currently*
marketable skills in the field, such as writing for multimedia
and information technology for writers. These I listed under
"Professional Workshops" on my resume.

4) I put together writing samples which consisted of school
writing projects, a web page, and *made up* technical writing
projects (such as rewriting and simplifying my VCR's user guide).

5) I gathered together some reference material that I could take
along with me on any job I might get sent. At first, because I
had little money, this consisted of key pages of reference books,
from step #1, photocopied and bound in a three-ring binder.
(Incidentally, I still have that binder and use it occassionally,
even though I have since bought all the books I referenced there.)
Once I had some cash I bought as a basic reference set:
_Science of Technical Writing_ by Philip Rubens
_Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications_
_The Bedford Handbook for Writers_
_The Columbia Guide to Standard American English_
_Managing Your Documentation Projeces_ by JoAnne T. Hackos
_Illustrating Computer Documentation_ by William Horton
_Designing and Writing Online Documentation_ by William Horton
_Webster's Tenth Collegiate Dictionary_

6) I read and followed the advice in Peter Kent's book for freelance
technical writers, which has recently been updated and retitled.
(_Making Money in Technical Writing_)

The result was that I received my first contract within two weeks of
mailing my resume to agencies. I contracted for about five months then
took a permanent position. I have done some freelance moonlighting
occassionally since then and plan to eventually return to full-time
contracting. (The project I'm working on continues to provide me with the
opportunity to develop and use new skills, and I probably will stay on it
until that changes.)

One element that I had in my favor was a background, 10 years prior, of
computer programming. This gave me an edge in the tech writing business.
If I had not had that experience, I would have added a couple of high tech
courses (such as operations or programming) to the "professional workshop"
courses I took.

I hope this helps. Good luck. I'd like to hear how it goes for you.

--E. Gail Miedema

On Mon, 21 Sep 1998, Roy Aney wrote:

> I've been lurking about the list for a while and though I see a lot of
> posts concerning employment I've not seen anything that would pass as
> advice or guidance to the aspiring tw seeking work for the first. How do
> I overcome the "Only those with experience need apply" mentality and
> find that rarest of commodities - a first job/assignment?
> an aspiring TW
> Roy Aney
> From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000==

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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