RE: Is TW Still Hospitable to Novices (a Dilemma)

Subject: RE: Is TW Still Hospitable to Novices (a Dilemma)
From: "Nancy Osterhout" <bluetwilight -at- home -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 2001 08:35:08 -0800

Peter Shea (USF) <pshea2 -at- lunca -dot- cas -dot- usf -dot- edu> wrote for advice
for a friend who has a liberal arts background, is computer
literate, has boned up on RoboHelp and Dreamweaver, written
real estate appraisals, and done Italian-to-English


But whenever he applied for a job, the HR people would ask
he had "worked on a network" or spent at least two years
working for
another company.


Inevitably, he grew discouraged and wondered if the
inspiring stories he
had heard about people falling sideways in the TW field from
professions were exaggerated, or whether the profession had
changed to
such a degree that only programmers or MIS graduates could
expect tech writing work.

My friend is smart, hard-working, and discouraged.

What would any here say to such a person? </snip>

Peter, you can tell your friend that "technical writing" is,
simply put, communicating specialized information in a way
that they can understand and use it. Perhaps your friend
can level the playing field by emphasizing that definition
of "tech writing" in his interviews.

There are many niches in this field other than writing for
"high tech." For example, I write procedures to meet
requirements for ISO 9000 standard for ensuring product
quality. From there, I broke out into writing procedures
for CMM Level 2 that measures the maturity of the company's
software development process. I also help individuals and
groups design or re-design their own procedures to ensure
that their desired outcome every time they do it. I love

Barbara Yanez has a great list of what's required of
"technical" communicators:

There's also a great page of links about breaking into
technical writing:

For breaking the Catch 22 phenomenon:

Hope this helps!

P.S. Geoff Hart has a great article about providing the
correct level of detail in "It's Okay to Lie to Your Reader
(at least a little)."

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