FW: Experience required for contracting / Staying current

Subject: FW: Experience required for contracting / Staying current
From: "Dan Roberts" <droberts63 -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "'techwr-l'" <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1999 21:08:48 -0400

-----Original Message-----
From: Murrell, Thomas [mailto:TMurrell -at- alldata -dot- net]

Anonymous Poster asks several interesting questions:
> I have almost two years of technical writing experience. I have written
> several hardware and software manuals and have done extensive editing
> throughout my career. I want to eventually go into contract writing. Is
> two years of experience enough? What type of things do employers look for
> when hiring contractors? Is it hard to keep current on technology when
> you change jobs so frequently?
>
> Any advice will be appreciated.
>
In my experience it is not harder, and might even be easier, to keep current
on technology as a contract writer. Moving from place to place and job to
job allows one to quickly build a resume that includes just about everything
out there that a TW might use, or at least it seems that way. Pretty soon
the resume is fat with systems one has worked on, software one has used
(even if only in passing), and methodologies current in the geographical
area.

Ninety percent of the challenge you face can be summed up in the question,
"Are you the type of person to run your own business?"
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I think I disagree with these 2 points, or at least want to offer a
different view.

1. I was a contractor in 2 different job shops. I knew the first shop was an
IBM shop, so I've got no complaints there. But in the 2nd shop, we had
multiple clients using all sorts of different WP/DTP programs. But for 5
years, I got the Big Blue jobs, cuz I had those skills, others didn't, and I
didn't have other skills at that point in time. And the 2nd shop didn't
really support learning new products, nor were clients willing to pay for a
novice user of a package, simply in order to get some different packages on
his resume.

(and of course, I could have learned other packages on my own, and offered
services to volunteer groups, etc etc. I didn't, so, yes, part of the
problem was mine.)

But I tend to think a job shop or headhunter will offer you to clients where
the *proven* skill set and the client needs are a good match.

2. Tom made a quick shift from contractor to consultant. Of course, what
those terms mean depends on the person using them. But, for me, a contractor
is either part of a job shop or is placed in contract positions by
headhunters. Consultants, otoh, use no job shops or headhunters, find their
jobs themselves, and run their own career w/o any outside assistance finding
work. A minor point, I admit, but a necessary one.

anyway......






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