Posted On

February 25, 2016

My Elevator Pitch

In the US we often talk about an “Elevator Pitch.” It’s a brief speech, delivered within a few seconds (the usual duration of an elevator ride), and is used to describe a project, service or product. For example, when I’m asked what my children do for a living I can easily answer. My son and daughter-in-law work in finance, hedge funds and bonds respectively; my daughter is a portrait photographer. Pretty straightforward.

When answering the same question about myself, my elevator pitch “I’m a technical communicator” is usually met with a blank stare. I can follow that up with, “it’s complicated” but that really defeats the purpose of the elevator pitch. And because, the very nature of technical communication is to simplify information and make it understandable, I have now failed at my job.elevator keypad

So please, join me in the elevator. We’re going to take a ride for several floors.

The field of technical communication covers many aspects.

The technical communication professional provides clear communication of technical, engineering or scientific information related to products and services tailored to specific audience needs.

The audience can include end users of software or products, consumers, experts – really everyone who needs instruction on how to correctly use a product or service.

The output created by a technical communicator includes manuals, instructions, guides, procedures, training materials, e-learning, reports, web pages, embedded content, videos, infographics. In other words, everything that explains how products, services and businesses work.

Technical communication is an essential part of every product or service. It is a critical success factor for every business.

All right, this is my floor. And I now realize that technical communication isn’t as complicated as I first thought.

Before I step out of the elevator, here is my pitch: “I am a technical communicator. I provide information that explains how products, services and businesses work.”

Learn even more about technical communication at www.itcqf.org.itcqf_accredited_training

Posted On

November 18, 2015

What is a Technical Communicator?

In the world of technical communication there are many paths. For example, my career has taken me through various jobs where I was an Information Architect, a Documentation Specialist, a Technical Writer/Trainer, and a Technical Training Facilitator. Sometimes my job title changed dramatically within the same organization. It can be confusing for someone observing from outside (and sometimes even for those of us inside) the industry. But at the heart of each of my jobs, I was a Technical Communicator.

TechComm_Terms_GraphicWhile some of the distinctions were small, some were large – as wide as an ocean.

If you’re a Doc Specialist and applying for a new job as an Information Architect, you might think, “slam-dunk”. You may expect that your experience will help you land the job even though the job description is quite different from the one you currently occupy. Right? Maybe not.

You’re probably the perfect candidate to take the certificate training offered by the International Technical Qualification Foundation.

The ITCQF provides training that results in a Certificate in Technical Communication. Among other things, the training:

  • Clarifies the roles and tasks of technical communicators
  • Identifies necessary skills development for tech comm workers
  • Establishes steps necessary to prepare initial documentation plans
  • Enables participants to understand and follow the documentation creation process
  • Teaches participants how to apply fundamental rules and good practices for information presentation

 

ITCQF provides intensive, 2-day training at a reasonable cost. It can elevate your skills to a level where you can comfortably and expertly move through the technical communication world providing great value to your employers. Visit the website www.itcqf.org for more details.

 

Posted On

July 29, 2015

Which Candidate Would You Hire?

Finding the perfect candidate to fill an open position within your organization requires considerable effort on your part.

Let’s say you’re looking for a Technical Communicator with experience in technical writing, user experience design and technical translation.

Where to begin?

It starts with writing an accurate job posting; you must consider the skill level that you require in a candidate, identify the list of ‘must-have’ and ‘nice-to-have’ skills and qualifications and finally, post the job on the best job boards.

You must then manage the avalanche of resumes you receive; they must be sorted, screened, and categorized. All of this before you conduct a single interview.

After weeks of interviewing folks, the real challenge begins. You’ve identified two qualified, capable individuals. Both candidates are equal when it comes to interpersonal skills, linguistic proficiency, and organizational habits.

Who to Hire?

Candidate #1 – earned a Bachelor’s degree in Technical Communication 6 years ago but hasn’t worked in a related field for about 4 years. She turned to journalism and now finds some of those jobs are drying up and wants to get back into Tech Comm.

Candidate #2 – holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science (heavy on theory) which he earned 10 years ago. He discovered that working with programing languages really wasn’t where he wanted to spend his time. He has been working as a technical writer for three years and recently obtained a technical communication certificate from the International Technical Communication Qualifications Foundation.

As a hiring manager, what do you value more in a candidate,

  • recent experience and a current tech comm certificate or
  • a degree in the field but no recent experience in the tech comm sector?

 

The International Communication Qualifications Foundation offers a Certified Technical Communication Professional certificate. Visit the website at www.ITCQF.org for more information.itcqf_accredited_training

 

Posted On

April 10, 2015

Customize Your Resume – How Far Should You Go

If you have been in the job market for an extended period of time, it can be tempting to create a resume of broad skills and experience that can be sent out to a variety of employers and industries. However, that is not the most effective strategy for catching the attention of hiring managers who are looking for qualifications that are specific to the position. Customizing your resume for each position for which you are applying is important, but how detailed and individualized should you make your resume for a specific job?

1. Create Industry Specific Resumes

If you have been in the work force for a significant period of time, you have acquired skills and experience that can be utilized in many industries. A standard resume should be created for each industry that can be further customized based on an available position.

2. Mirror Keywords from Job Posting

Because the number of applicants applying for a given position has increased dramatically, employers rely on software to initially scan and vet online resumes for keywords before considering a candidate. Incorporate key words from the job posting into your resume to ensure that your pertinent experience can be quickly identified.

3. Describe How You Meet an Employer’s Needs

Employers want to know what sets you apart from other candidates even before offering you an interview. Expand upon the relevant experiences and accomplishments that showcase the strengths and advantages you possess.

4. Be Selective

Submitting a generic resume that lists all of your prior work experiences can appear unfocused to hiring managers. It will be obvious that you did not make the effort to highlight the specific skills that are required for the position. Only include details that are directly related to the job you are applying for.

5. Be Accurate and Honest

Exaggerating your skills and experience in a resume is never a good idea. Employers can easily verify your credibility through reference checks and eventually will discover your untruthfulness. Honesty should always prevail when creating a resume.

Before submitting your resume, make sure you have taken into consideration the experience required by the position and incorporate only relevant information. Review the job posting for key words that can easily be identified by scanning software or recruiters. The small amount of extra effort it takes to customize your resume for each position will prove to be a successful strategy.

Posted On

March 15, 2015

If You Have a Job, Do You Still Need a Resume?

If your employment status has not changed in the last few years, chances are you have not given your resume a second glance after you obtained your current position. While you may feel relieved that you no longer have to repeatedly customize your resume for prospective employers, it is still beneficial for you to maintain an updated resume of your job responsibilities. Simply pulling together your current skills and experience in a resume can help identify gaps that may exist in your knowledge or abilities, which can be helpful if you find yourself seeking a promotion or a new career in the future. When the economy experiences periods of downturn, it is always better to be armed with a strong, updated resume in the event you are unexpectedly without a job. You will be able to recover more quickly following a layoff if you have a current resume prepared.

itcqf_accredited_training-training-providerResumes are not only tools that can be used to acquire employment; you can use a resume to attract new clientele or to ensure loyalty among your current client base. Clients are always looking for reassurance that their resources are being spent in the most efficient manner that provides them with optimal results. Having your expertise presented in a resume increases the visibility of your value.

One of the keys to career impact and development is understanding yourself. Your resume not only highlights your skills and achievements, but also your passions and values. Through resumes, you can recall what environments you thrived in best and which ones presented greater challenges. Revisiting your accomplishments can boost your confidence and provide a clearer direction for your career.

Even if you never expect to be in the job market again, it is always beneficial to keep a fresh resume handy while working in an unpredictable economic climate.

Posted On

March 5, 2015

How to Avoid Common Resume Mistakes

Finding the job of your dreams after several months of searching can create a sense of urgency when you sit down to write your resume. With hundreds of other interested applicants submitting their resumes for the position, you want to ensure that yours stands out from the rest. However, you do not want your resume to stand out because of errors or poor composition. Here are some tips for creating an effective resume.

Focus on Your Accomplishments. One of the most common mistakes made by job hunters is that they focus their resumes on the tasks of their previous or current positions, rather than their accomplishments. Explaining how you performed in a position will help the employer better understand your capabilities.resume with magnifying glass

Customize Your Resume for Each Job. It can be tempting to create a generic resume to simplify the application process when you are applying to multiple jobs. Tailoring your resume to reflect only the information that is most relevant to the position you are applying for will prove to be a more successful strategy. Hiring managers are able to tell within seconds whether a prospective job candidate is qualified for a position; a customized, concise resume will catch the attention of the recruiters quickly.

Use Key Words. Due to the high volume of applications employers have been receiving in recent years, hiring managers have begun utilizing recruiting management software to screen candidates. Hiring managers then scan their database for key words in your resume that are directly related to the position you are applying for to see if your resume matches the qualifications for the position. Locating key words in the actual job posting will help you determine which key words you should incorporate into your resume.

Don’t Overstate Your Experience. Employers are able to identify skills or experiences that have been exaggerated in resumes. Grossly overstating your accomplishments could eliminate your opportunity to secure an interview. In the event that you land an interview, your embellishments could prevent you from receiving a job offer, or could lead to your dismissal should you receive the job. It is important to represent yourself in the most honest and accurate manner as possible to avoid setting yourself up for failure down the road.

Writing a resume can be overwhelming, but following these tips can help you create a better foundation to present your skills and experiences that will catch the attention of your prospective employer.

Posted On

February 17, 2015

Technical Communication – Degree or Certification?

This is not an either/or proposition. A solid education is the foundation of a successful technical communication career; actually, of any career. But is it essential that in order to pursue a career in technical communication you must have earned a degree in technical communication? Not necessarily.

Consider this. Thirty-one percent of college graduates in the U.S. age 35 and older have never been employed in the field in which they earned their degree. Almost one-third! This information is based on a survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com in 2013. When they considered workers who had recently graduated from college, the percentage of those not working within their field of study is even more shocking. Practically half – 47% of those polled – did not work in their field for their first job. So then really, how can you determine what your best college major should be if you want to be involved with technical communication in some way? You can’t.

What you can do, is get a good education from an accredited institution and gain additional skills on the job or through a certificate program. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists communication skills as vital for people looking to become computer scientists, database administrators, software developers, medical procedure writers and even environmental regulators. The list could go on and on.

But, in other words, students pursing a wide-variety of degrees and those in the job market who have obtained other degrees can benefit from completing a certification in technical communication. Having knowledge and skills in technical communication can give you an edge over job-seekers who do not have that additional certification. One source for technical communication certification is www.ITCQF.org. The International Technical Communication Qualifications Foundation (ITCQF) is a comprehensive technical communication certification program developed in cooperation with recognized tech comm experts, and based on existing international standards. Check it out today!

Posted On

February 4, 2015

5 Tips for Successful Business Writing

Business writing is defined as writing formal and information reports, memorandums, proposals and other internal and external communications that aid in the organization and structure of everyday business. Done correctly, business writing can be a strong infrastructure holding many successful companies together. Without it, some businesses can fail, missing a strategic and worthwhile piece of the organizational puzzle.

Best Professional CV Writers

Tips for Effective Business Writing

No matter your role in any organization, the ability to be well-spoken and deliver a clear and concise message through business writing is essential. Here are some tips for effective business writing:

  1. Know What You’re Writing About – Any effective business communication starts with a great understanding of the product you are writing about. If you need to, go check it out, ask questions, and make sure you thoroughly know the product or service you are communicating about.
  2. Check Your Spelling – One of the most embarrassing things that can happen when writing a proposal, memorandum or report is to have simple spelling mistakes. Commonly misspelled business words can include words like: accommodate, acknowledgement, commitment, consensus, deducible and many more. If you’re unsure of the spellings, run spell check after every piece that you write.
  3. Grammar Errors – Grammar errors are another common mistake that can be made when writing for business. Most programs have grammar checks and it is recommended to run this on every document created. In addition, watch your comma placement and word usage (two, to and too or there and their).
  4. Do Your Research – Ever write a formal disciplinary note on a coworker only to find out that you didn’t have the full information and that he or she had not done what was thought? In business, before you act, do your research. If a mistake is made check every aspect of what happened before acting. Keep it cool, calm, collected and professional at every turn.
  5. Organization is Key – Reading a poorly put together proposal or disorganized communication can cause a person to throw out an entire idea. When an individual is writing for business, it’s always key to stay organized. Use an outline before writing to make sure you’ve covered all bases. Don’t be afraid to have a second pair of trusted eyes look at your work before submitting it.

Above all, don’t be afraid to revise and edit after you’ve written something to ensure you are fully and clearly communicating your message to your associates. And, if you need a helpful and professional voice, contact Writing Associates for help with all of your writing needs.

 

Posted On

January 9, 2015
Kris_Hurst_headshot

The Founder of Writing Associates

Writing Associates was founded by Kris Hurst, technical writer and trainer. Ms. Hurst holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Education and a Master’s degree in Business Administration – General Management. She has professionally combined her business, teaching, and writing skills for over 30 years to provide effective written communication and customized training at all levels.

Writing Associates consists of a distinguished team that includes expert writers, highly skilled editors and talented technical trainers. What differentiates Writing Associates is our deep understanding of business practices and the ability to rapidly deliver professional communications and trainings. Based in Los Angeles, we have worked successfully with clients around the world.