Nontechnical sectors do hire technical writing grads but contrary to the occupation’s name, high-tech workplaces should be the last place you apply.
Reason is that every company produces some form of technical communication. Currently, companies are keen to undertake knowledgebase and transformation projects. The path toward gainful employment follows a series of stepping stones.
So if you contribute to the HR Policy & Procedures manual you can transition from administrative to technical. If you formalize department plans or specifications you can transition to more technical gigs. If you’ve become a SharePoint whiz you can leap from permanent to independent work in IT. And for all the project coordinators out there, if you’ve been picked to orchestrate assignments, schedules and deadlines, then go for project management certification.
Here’s a chart showing what grads from selected Vancouver area schools are doing 10 years later.
It must have been twenty years ago when Larry Ellison fascinated me with the idea of diskless desktop computers. The benefit as I saw it was that some grandmaster App would keep the department’s word processing installations up to date.
Eventually, maintaining software as a service became its own product. Known as SaaS the service is enabled through cloud computing. Other service models include infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS). These services make up about a third of cloud computing activities. File sharing accounts for another third.
By offloading IT involvement, users stay focused on work. It can be argued that universally accessible tools and services promote a strong collaborative culture.
Informal results from a session on documentation collaboration.
Here’s a sampling of ways systems classify technical writers. It’s useful if you’re searching for industry information, exploring careers, comparing skills, or immigrating.
North American Industrial Classification System
Used in the U.S., Canada and Mexico to describe economic activity. NAICS classification for Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation breaks down this way:
71 – Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
711 – Performing Arts, Spectator Sports, and Related Industries
7115 – Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers
71151040 – Technical Writing
71151027 – Technical Manual Preparation
National Occupational Classification system
Used in Canada to describe occupational structure by skill type. NOC classification for occupations in Art, Culture, Recreation and Sport breaks down this way:
5 – Occupations in Art, Culture, Recreation and Sport
51 – Professional Occupations in Art and Culture
512 – Writing, Translating and Public Relations Professionals
5121 – Authors and Writers
5122 – Editors
5123 – Journalists
5124 – Public Relations and Communications
5125 – Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters
International Standard Industrial Classification
The United Nations lists national classifications for activities and products. The ISIC classification for Arts, Entertainment and Recreation breaks down this way:
Section: R – Arts, entertainment and recreation
Division: 90 – Creative, arts and entertainment activities
Group: 900 – Creative, arts and entertainment activities
Class: 9000 – Creative, arts and entertainment activities
This class includes activities of:
· individual artists such as authors, lecturers or speakers
· individual writers, for all subjects including fictional writing, technical writing
· independent journalists
Global Industry Classification Standard
Used in finance and market research. GICS classification for Information Technology breaks down this way:
45 – Information Technology
4510 – Software & Services
4520 – Technology Hardware & Equipment
4530 – Semiconductors & Semiconductor Equipment
Standard Industrial Classification Codes
Established in 1937 and still used by some programs at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission until NAICS is fully implemented. SIC classification for Services breaks down this way:
Not since 1975 has the barcode held this much excitement. That year the UPC forerunner first appeared on packaged food. At the same moment, the microwave oven found a permanent spot in America’s kitchens. I concluded that cooking instructions were encoded on packages of frozen peas, and somehow, the waves read the UPC barcode. My conclusion fizzled when UPCs were printed onto magazine covers.
All things scannable are not necessarily microwaveable.
Thirty-five years later the barcode gets a makeover, and your mobile phone is the decoder ring. Block shaped barcodes appear on lots of physical and virtual items including, yes, magazine covers. What these print blocks contain are the ingredients to turn your cell phone into a Wikipedia of widgets.
Until a block is scanned you’re kept guessing about its contents, though often it reveals a website. Cracking the code is as easy as point, scan and click. That sure beats typing a URL into your cell phone’s browser.
Imagine you are searching through job postings. You’ve got a list and now you opt to sort by date, or location or other relevant category. Each column can be sorted. Typical options are some kind of logical progression. A job seeker might sort jobs to list the newest ones first.
I recently saw a job listing whose sort routine made sense only in theory. In practice, the result was neither sorted nor logical. However you sorted it, the list was a sorted mess.
Here’s a rule to break; don’t sort dates numerically or alphabetically. Who cares about a group of jobs that were posted on the 27th of every month. Not useful. In the context of a job posting, a date must be sorted chronologically.
This month marked the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission. Whether you watched the PBS documentary or the Hollywood version, the story was gripping. Yet, the life-saving manual seemed easy enough to use. Nothing fancy. The neatly typed document included handmade graphs, penciled in symbols, and annotations by James Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise. The crew journeyed to the moon, almost, and back using less computing power than an iPhone. The 345 page Mission Operations Report compiles reports from a dozen mission officers.
I’m reminded of a conversation with a neighbour who decided to become a corporate trainer. This was in the early days of the web. He was telling me about “HMTL”. Yes, you read it as he said it, H-M-T-L.
Whoa! Do I tell him he meant HTML? Yes, I decided. To protect the reputation of training professionals everywhere, I will tell my neighbour that HTML means hypertext markup language.