Re: Agencies and Documentation Services

Subject: Re: Agencies and Documentation Services
From: Beth Weise Moeller <bmoeller -at- IMEDIACONSULT -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 3 Nov 1998 16:05:34 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Eric J. Ray <ejray -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Tuesday, November 03, 1998 2:06 PM
Subject: Agencies and Documentation Services

>For tech writers who have any experience with
>agencies (working through them, opting not to
>work through them, or whatever):
>What's your ideal agency like? Active or hands-off?

I've worked for two different agencies, one very hands-off and the other
only involved if I needed them. In the first case, I found the job and was
told it was contract and you will be working through agency X. The terms
were okay and a number of others from grad school had done the same thing
with this organization. I called in hours once a week. Fortunately, there
were never any problems that couldn't be resolved onsite.

In the second case, an agency I contacted (tech writing specialists) placed
me in a position. They would ask how things were going when I called in
hours each week. I preferred the relative autonomy provided by both

There were negotiations with a third agency, again an exclusive agency to
the client. The third agency was very hands on and didn't understand tech.
communication issues or the project to which I would have been assigned.
They wouldn't present my resume to the project leader even though the
project leader told me to go through them. Their channels work so that no
one could be hired for the position unless their resume came through the
agency. When the project leader asked for my resume, he was told they felt
I wasn't right for the position and that they wouldn't present my resume.
No idea what was going on politically, but that pretty much ended my trust
in any agency.

>Tech communication specialists or generalists?

Definitely people who at least understand tech. communication.

>Anyone who places you quickly?

Timely is probably more important that quickly. I would want an agency to
start circulating my name before the scheduled end of a current project so
that I could move on right at the end of the current project.

>Do you care if
>you're an agency employee or a contractor to the

Accounting is made much easier when you're an employee. I do prefer that
aspect of it.

>Can you describe your ideal agency
>(and if so, does it have a real name and address,
>or is it mythical)?

One that understands the type of work for which I am qualified--I don't like
being told I can't do CBT or web site design because my degree is in
communication (they often overlook the "technical" part) and not computer
science. Please look at my experience!! Ideally, this agency would not be
taking over half the hourly rate from the client. I understand
administrative expenses, but really.... They are supportive when problems
arise, but hands-off otherwise. A periodic "how's it going?" from the
agency is always appropriate so they aren't surprised if/when a problem

I finally started my own business because I was tired of contract agencies
taking over half the hourly rate paid by the client. Too many people were
telling me they'd hire me as a consultant, but didn't think they needed my
services full time. Right now, I'm as successful as I currently want to be
and enjoying the ability to pick and choose projects that interest me.

Beth Weise Moeller
Interactive Media Consulting
beth -at- imediaconsult -dot- com

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