Re: Dissastisfaction

Subject: Re: Dissastisfaction
From: sheldon kohn <sheldon -dot- kohn -at- MCI -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998 13:25:25 -0500

Dear Anon:

I understand your feelings and views about technical writing. In my eight
years in the field, I have held "permanent" jobs that were neither
challenging nor interesting. For the most part, they also did not pay well.
What I found repeatedly was that I lost interest in these jobs after a
certain point. Also, they all seemed marked by endless demands for working
long hours and weekends without overtime pay. Of course, there are times
when extraordinary effort is necessary, but I want a company to reciprocate
my level of effort in a concrete, tangible manner.

The solution that works for me now is to pursue the path of a contractor.
One thing I like very much about technical writing is that it allows one to
follow this path. Some of my neighbors (and some of my relatives) are amazed
that I can pretty much find a new job at will. In fields such as sales, "job
hopping" is often a kiss of death for one's career prospects. One of my
neighbors in particular has a miserable job, but he tells me that there is
no way he can make a move until he has been there for two years. On the
whole, I find this to be a tremendous advantage that we have as technical
writers. Also, I do not have any psychological need to be a member of an
organization; some people would miss the aspect of belonging to a group were
they to move into contracting. It is just not an issue for me.

When I accepted the position I held before this one (Director of
Documentation for a start-up), I was coming off a contract and listened to a
recruiter's sweet talk, though I knew better. Every time a recruiter says
"opportunity," I should hear "long hours and low pay." I knew the position
was a mistake about a week into it, but I felt that I had to take some time
to reevaluate my career direction and path. I seriously considered leaving
the field.

For now, I hope to continue in contracting and consulting, as it seems to
work well for me. I would consider returning to full-time, "permanent"
employment, but it would have to be the right situation. This is all FWIW,
but I have been where you are, more than once.

Best Wishes,

Sheldon Kohn
Technical Writing Consultant

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