RE: Baseline Skillset

Subject: RE: Baseline Skillset
From: "Giordano, Connie" <Connie -dot- Giordano -at- FMR -dot- COM>
To: "'Loretta Vosk'" <lavosk -at- wolfenet -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 20 Dec 1999 08:05:58 -0500

Loretta,

Lawyer and Administrative Law Judge? I think you have many of the basics
down--Organization, attention to detail, understanding of scope. If you are
curious, technically savvy (not necessarily a master), and can write
cogently and clearly, you can be a tech writer. If you want to be a
software tech writer, then tools seem to be more important, but if you've
mastered Office, you can demonstrate to most good managers that you could do
the job.

I'd worry less about another degree or set of classes right now. Focus on
where in this mind-boggling business you'd like to concentrate. Very few of
the successful writers on this list started out as masters of the tools they
use. IMHO, you'll learn more by jumping in and mastering an area of business
expertise and improving your writing. Learn the tools as you need them, and
make some educated guesses about where the tools might be heading. (for
example I've been in the tech writing biz for 7 years, writing in general
for 16 years, I've yet to learn Framemaker. Not that I wouldn't, given the
opportunity, it's just never been a tool used by the companies that have
employed me.)

Good luck.

Connie

-----Original Message-----
From: Loretta Vosk

[snip]

Most respondents agree that the baseline skills for a technical writer
include the ability to understand complex technical subjects, know your
audience, interview your SME, organize your information, write clearly,
and play well with others. As a lawyer and administrative law judge, I
can honestly say that I have mastered these skills. Why is it, then,
that my daily reading of the techwr-l list, with its emphasis on
specific software skills, inevitably leaves me feeling miles from
employability? I'm proficient with MS Office, and I feel pretty
comfortable with my PC, but I don't get much opportunity to learn new
software applications in my line of work. That's not to say I couldn't
or wouldn't; I'm trying to decide whether this should involve another
degree, or individual classes.

Please tell me: What good is mastery of these baseline skills, if
employability hinges on one's familiarity with specific software
applications?

Loretta Vosk
Seattle, WA
lavosk -at- wolfenet -dot- com





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