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So, is anybody else wondering if Andrew's surname is *really* Plato? Could
it be that he adopted it as a pen name because of his flair for dramatic
Here is a typical call from a client looking for a contractor:
CLIENT: Hi, Mr. Plato, we have an opening for a tech writer here.
ME: Great. What's the project?
CLIENT: Well, we need support and user documentation for this new
product we have. We're going to beta in six hours (exaggeration for
humorous effect) so we would need someone pretty quick.
ME: Okay, well we have lots of great candidates. What kind of user
documents are we looking at here? On-line, printed? Do you have
templates for the material? Any particular tools you want to use?
CLIENT: Well, like I said, we're going to beta in, well it's going to
be five hours now. So we need a senior writer here in the next ten
Actually, what I'm really wondering is how does a contractor handle the
things Andrew describes? I'm not a contractor, but I occasionally toy with
the idea of turning myself into one. How many contractors, for example, are
willing to set up an interview when they have no idea who they'd be working
for, what they'd be doing, or where they'd be going? Childcare and company
ethics are issues for me in this context. Is this just how contracting
works -- like it or leave it?
Clients are notoriously vague about their needs. In
fact I would estimate that a good 75% of the job requests I get, the
client really has no idea what they need or how much it will cost.
Moreover, when it got to tools, technologies, and deliverables they
were hopelessly lost.
Ultimately, a good agency will help make some sense out of this chaos.
Unfortunately, most agencies can't make sense out of their own chaos,
let alone their clients.
Also, do not expect an agency to reveal the client's name or company
until an interview is setup. Agencies get jobs ripped out from
underneath them all the time. They have to protect themselves.
barb -dot- ostapina -at- experian -dot- com
...speaking only for myself.