The professional life of a W-2 or 1099 contractor is rich and varied, as you know. Those of us in this category must have, or soon develop, the ability to navigate (with ease, of course) the twisting, turning road that leads through the hilly ground between assignments.
Staffing firms and other erstwhile potential employers of a tech writer's services post opportunities on bulletin boards such as Monster or Dice. These job descriptions (when really present) often list those attributes most keenly desired of a candidate. The trouble--especially for the newcomer--lies in translating these words or phrases into their underlying English meanings. Fortunately, I have recently acquired a Universal Translator device. Here goes:
When you read: "Extensive experience and superior skills in technical writing"
It means: "You are a programmer skilled in all languages, from Fortran/COBOL to Java; and you understand all the pesky terms we're encountering today."
Note: Some of those pesky phrases include--Sarbanes-Oxley, SDLC, Use Cases, CHM, HTM, PDF, CDR, PSD, JPG, SWF, TXT.
When you read: "Excellent written and oral communication skills"
It means: "You know the alphabet and can form sentences."
When you read: "Excellent attention to detail"
It means: "If we forget something, you'll remember it--even when we bring you in 3 weeks before the product we've been developing for 2 years is due to ship."
When you read: "Extensive experience documenting business processes"
It means: "We don't know the Byzantine business procedures that rule projects in our company, but you will--from the minute we introduce you to your cubicle."
When you read: "Extensive experience and knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Visio"
It means: "We use Office 97 in a Windows 2000 environment; you'll produce 200-page documents and Help, HTML, and PDF files involving lots of graphics using them."
When you read: "Ability to work effectively in a team environment"
It means: "You anticipate and do everything the team wants using your extensible clairvoyance skills."
When you read: "Excellent time management skills"
It means: "You will meet all deadlines no matter when you get the tasks without working more than 40 paid hours a week."
When you read: "Ability to work independently"
It means: "You have and use the initiative that eludes the team."
When you read: "Administrative skills and experience"
It means: "You're really a secretary, you know."
When you read: Pay Rate DOE
It means: "$12-$14 per hour"
Friday, January 28, 2005
From the "Sad-but-True" School My friend Don W. sent this...and it's too true: