Tech Writer Wannabe

Subject: Tech Writer Wannabe
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- AXIONET -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 27 Dec 1996 14:07:32 -0500

Melissa Hunter-Kilmer <mhunterk -at- BNA -dot- COM> wrote:

>The daughter of a friend is considering getting into technical writing. She's
>currently a senior in college and majoring in English. I'd like to hear what
>tips you guys might have for her, in addition to what I've already told her.



I think you've given her some sound advice. I'd add a few things to it:

1.) in addition to looking at manuals critically, she might try revising
small pieces of them. This kind of makeover is a good portfolio sample.

2.) she needs to make sure her people skills are in shape, not just for
interviews, but for on the job. In many companies, teamwork rates as
high as job skills.

3.) she should network with local tech writers, attending seminars,
going to STC meetings, and anything else she can think of. She'll not
only hear about jobs that never get widely advertised, but she'll also
be able to go to experts when she needs to know how to do something

4.) she should know a little about typography. Not every job requires
it, but knowing a thing or two about layout might help her job search.
In my recent experiences job-hunting, I found that at least half the
potential employers in my area were concerned about improving the look
of their documentation.

Bruce Byfield (bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com)
Technical Writer
Burnaby, BC, Canada
(604) 421-7189

"You can go home again, so long as you understand that home
is a place you have never been." --Ursula K. Le Guin

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