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Memorandum

To: From: Date: Subject:

Dr. Ron Smith James Thigpen 27 November 2011 Informal Report on Professional Writing

PURPOSE
The purpose of this report is to inform the reader of the essence of working as a professional writer in the workplace. This shall be done specifically by identifying the skills and talents required for such an employment and introduce sources for opportunities and information associated with the field. This report is not all-inclusive but intends to introduce useful information and sources to an audience already familiar with the technical writing field.

BACKGROUND
In a world overrun with technology—that is, a world where nearly anyone on nearly any continent can communicate with those across the world by means of the internet—careers such as technical writing can be outsourced to cheaper companies to accomplish any number of jobs from developing brochures to writing proposals. The aspiring technical writer—that is one who aspires to the position—must be prepared to handle these changes, as the field is constantly growing.

knowing how to best accomplish any tasks at hand by consulting various sources within the field.Ron Smith 2 1 December 2011 SUMMARY The technical writing student who plans to enter the career as an asset to a company must develop along with required skills for the job a set of valuable talents outside of creating wellwritten documents. unless direct physical contact is essential or heavy equipment or products are involved. the job-seeking technical writer should be aware of sources of opportunities within the field. and Loader quote Hackos and Hackos in the article “Relationship between Innovation and Professional Communication in the „Creative‟ Economy” to prove the vulnerability of a skill-only based look at professional/technical writing: Because of the new communications technology. (134) . these talents vary. technical writers no longer need to be in close proximity to developers or end-users. Hailey. in general. These opportunities begin before employment with careful research and knowing where to look for jobs and. jobs can be performed anywhere as long as workers have sufficient skills. In fact. DISCUSSION With global communication becoming easier as technology progresses. depending on the targeted employment. once the job is found. but there is a shared set of talents beneficial to many professional/technical writing employments that can give a student seeking a professional writing career the upper-hand over outsourced labor. In addition to this required skill-set and talent-set. the student desiring the career of a technical writer must attain a valuable skill-set and talent-set to be worth more to a company than cheaper outsourced labor. Cox.

the professional copywriter and the documentation specialist. explore the necessary skills for numerous jobs. Required Skill/Knowledge-Sets While the required skill-set for a writer entering the technical field varies among specific jobs at specific companies. et al. Skill/Knowledge-Set for Professional Copywriters The skill/knowledge-set required for professional copywriters. Hailey. Hailey. and students of English-language and writing learn these while in school.Ron Smith 3 1 December 2011 In regards to the problem of offshore outsourcing. as listed by Hailey. give lists of required skills and knowledge for professional copywriters (including technical copywriters) and documentation specialists. jobs in the technical/professional writing fields are vulnerable to offshore outsourcing (131). is as follows (133):    Understanding of language and rhetoric Knowledge of topic Ability to research This list of skills follows the usual necessities for those entering the writing field. a set of general skills to be acquired should be the goal of any writer desiring employment in the professional or technical field. and because of this. . these two professions encompass the jobs of the professional/technical writing field and will stand in this report as fit examples for the field. et al. Hailey. et al. et al. purport that this set of skills/knowledge is attained in any country where English is a widely-spoken language. including a couple technical writing jobs.

he or she must demonstrate talent. the aspiring technical writer must develop certain talents to make himself or herself exceptional. et. to keep from being vulnerable to outsourcing. or behavior” (129). Hailey. Therefore.2 million employees and their employers. Hailey. suggest that the domestic writer must exhibit more than skill and knowledge. it follows that something extra is required of those seeking the job of a technical/professional writer. as suggested by Hailey. al. feeling. provide a short list of assumed skills documentation specialists should have (132):    Extensive subject knowledge Vocabulary of mechanics and writing Knowledge of publication techniques. media. Beyond Skill/Knowledge-Sets: Talents Hailey. et al. The documentation specialist‟s . for the professional copywriter to be exceptional can be found in Table 1 (133). et al. show that even such specialization of skills and knowledge is being accomplished in offshore English-speaking countries. Discover Your Strengths as “naturally occurring patterns of thought. defined by the researchers through Buckingham‟s Now. The copywriter‟s talent-set. Hailey. et al.Ron Smith 4 1 December 2011 Skill/Knowledge-Set for Documentation Specialists In addition to the list given for the skill/knowledge-set for Copywriters. As noted before. Therefore. a person looking into a job such as technical writing expects to need such specific knowledge to accomplish his or her task effectively. and product testing While this skill/knowledge-set is a bit more advanced than that required of copywriters. glean their suggested talents from a list compiled by Gallup‟s interviewing of 2. et al.

as suggested by Hailey. The names of the talents have been shortened for effective formatting. Explanations of these talents can be found on page 130 of Hailey. making them habitual so as to prepare the aspiring technical/professional writer to be best suited for effective and valuable work. If these six can be acquired. TABLE 1: Talent-set for the Professional Copywriter   Adaptability Learner   Devotion Connectedness  y  Empath Input  n Communicatio TABLE 2: Talent-Set for the Documentation Specialist   Adaptability Learner   Focused Connectedness   y Empath Input  n Communicatio Analytical Merging of the Talent-Sets These talent-sets share in six individual talents (Fig. and the Appendix of this document. the chances of getting and keeping a job in the technical/professional writing field are much greater.Ron Smith 5 1 December 2011 talent-set. al for the documentation specialist to be exceptional can be found in Table 2 (132). 1). these individual talents can be practiced. Figure 1: The Intersection of Talents between Copywriter and Documentation Copywriter Documentation Specialist . Because of this sharing. et. et al.

com offers itself to subscribers as the “best single source for employment vacancies nationwide in the liberal arts and the humanities.com GraduateJobs.Ron Smith Further Skills 6 1 December 2011 Further marketable—and becoming very much necessary—skills include the ability to use many components of the Microsoft Office system and the understanding of technical languages such as HTML/XML and the terminology associated with those technical languages. Microsoft Excel.com.com (membership required) “A Week in the Life of a Technical Writer” The Journal of Technical Writing and Communication Communication World Each of these sources gives helpful information in specific ways so as to best help the researcher in finding opportunities in the field but should not be the end of a job-seeker‟s search for opportunities. According to a job listing found on GraduateJobs. These skills include proficiency with Microsoft Word. Sources for Opportunities in the Professional Writing Field An aspiring technical writer should be prepared for finding a job by being knowledgeable about sources for job-listings and help for improving in required skills and talents.” A subscription to the site gives job- . and other programs. Four equally important sources are especially helpful in getting an idea of opportunities in the field:     Graduatejobs. GraduateJobs. Microsoft PowerPoint. the applicant must be “familiar with MS Office and Sharepoint.” other job listings suggest a knowledge/familiarity with technical languages.

The Journal of Technical Writing and Communication According to the website associated with The Journal of Technical Writing and Communication. and academia. To .” This site benefits the reader with information of a personal tone that may be more applicable to a jobseeker or aspiring technical writer. This journal provides information for job seekers in that job seekers can find information on current goings-on of the technical writing field and learn ways of improvement in preparation for acquiring a job. Our purpose is to publish a thoroughly solid journal that performs as the needed bridge between academia and the world of practitioners. the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication has served as a major professional and scholarly Journal for practitioners and teachers of most functional forms of communication. For over thirty years. Communication World According to its corresponding website. “A Week in the Life of a Technical Writer” Found at weekinthelife. In finding a job. government. The Journal of Technical Writing and Communication strives to meet the diverse communication needs of industry. management.net.Ron Smith 7 1 December 2011 seekers job listings submitted from companies across the United States. “A Week in the Life of a Technical Writer” follows five technical writers at National Instruments (NI) through their usual workweek. this journal offers its readers the ability to “Learn about best practices and get insights from today's brightest thought leaders” (“Publications”). especially students. the site usefully offers search options and allows the user to narrow the search results as needed. The website “is designed to give you insight into the daily life of several technical writers at National Instruments.

asserts the same need for learning more skills and talents—what he calls “creativity”—in “the future of the communication industry” (14). he or she must build on the six shared talents illustrated in Figure 1 and explained in Appendix 1. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on its “Technical Writers page. . and … practical training to get your career started” (“Students”). “Creative Strategists” inhabit the future of technical communications. the desirer should learn more skills and talents by keeping up-to-speed with the growing technical communications community by reading from the supplied sources.” As noted. Those desiring a job in the technical writing field should extensively research the opportunities and information found in the presented sources. the BLS reiterates the required skills in saying that “[j]ob prospects are expected to be good for those with solid writing and communications skills and a technical background. as well as other similar sources.Ron Smith 8 1 December 2011 students and others aspiring to the profession of technical communication the journal “offer[s] a variety of resources and opportunities for students who plan on entering the communication profession … insights from leaders in the profession … valuable contacts. they follow the path that Steven suggests—in such a way the aspiring technical writer can be much more prepared when the time comes for job-hunting. acquiring these skills alone does not adequately equip the aspiring technical writer.” “Employment of technical writers is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations as the need to explain a growing number of electronic and scientific products increases.” Additionally. Along with making habit of the six shared talents. CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTION The field of technical writing is quickly growing. Christopher Steven. in an autobibiliographic kind of way. According to Steven. also be prepared by knowing sources of valuable information within the field such as the Journal for Technical Writing and Communication.

Ron Smith 9 1 December 2011 Appendix: Definitions of Talents 1. Input—They are attracted to mining information. 5. and they do a good job. Connectedness—They like to work in groups. Adaptability—When necessary. Empathy—They work effectively with other professionals. Analysis—They enjoy manipulating ideas or information for better understanding. 6. 7. Desire to communicate—They love writing. 8. Love for learning—They often entertain themselves attacking steep learning curves. 2. . 4. Focus—They push until they get the job done. 3. they must often change directions without hesitation.

” Baywood. and Emily Loader.com/cw. Baywood Publishing Company.d. Hailey. 27 November 2011.bls. International Association of Business Communicators.net. David. Web. Christopher. n.” IABC. 29 November 2011. National Instruments Corporation. A Week in the Life of a Technical Writer. 29 November 2011. 29 November 2011.com. Inc.” Weekinthelife. Steven. “Current Jobs in Writing. Web.Ron Smith 10 Works Cited 1 December 2011 “A Week in the Life of a Technical Writer.gov.2 (2010): 125-41. Web. Web. International Association of Business Communicators. Web. 27 November 2011. 29 November 2011.gov/oco/ocos319. Web. Web. GraduateJobs.com/journals/PreviewJournals. 27 November 2011.” Students. “A Tale of Two Communicators.” BLS. Web. <http://www. “Journal of Technical Writing and Communication. “Technical Writers.baywood. & Communication.IABC.htm> . Bureau of Labor Statistics. Editing.” Communication World 28.com. <http://www. “Students. 2008.com.asp?id=0047-2816> “Publications.” Journal of Technical Writing and Communication 40.3 (2011): 1314. Matthew Cox.” GraduateJobs. “Relationship between Innovation and Professional Communication in the „Creative‟ Economy. 29 November 2011.