Have you thanked your technical writer today?

The Mojo of technical communication and writing as mused by Dr. Lu Kondor

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Moving on to technical communication jobs

This post was motivated by my thoughts as the end of the semester comes around. In the program I teach, I get a lot of questions on what to do next when students graduate with certificates. I was reading a creative writing blog the other day and it provided the motivation to think about technical writing and how to be successful.

In examining the next step for new writers, I think they must consider that there is no easy way to get a job or magic bullets of getting out there. Instead, everyone has their own set of skills they bring to the writing table as well as unique portfolio. I am frequently asked plenty of questions on resumes and how to deal with interviews. Well that too is unique to you. Other than emphasizing that the mechanics of your docs are polished (grammar, look, structure etc.) we are all unique. In my courses I provide some basics for portfolios and resumes but honestly they are all about the person who the story is about. The background, skills, education, and work history makes each person interesting and talented in their own right as a technical writer and communicator.

Some students ask if they should go on and get an MA or other such degrees. While nice I think getting a higher degree is a personal choice and again decisions all come down to the individual, their background, and their motivation. In technical writing, as in other forms of writing, there is no magic bullet or steps to follow to get a job. Just self-motivation to improve one’s own skills and knowledge. The lessons we learn, training we get, and writing we do are the individual steps to a successful career, especially in technical writing.

Friday, November 9, 2012

STC AccessAbility SIG

I wanted to mention the STC AccessAbility SIG. It is an An Accessibility & Technical Communication Blog.

The blog is geared at a discussion of topics and tools for the challenge of creating documentation for users who have disabilities. It contains a number of resources and although posts are sporadic, they are informative.

Se the link at: http://www.stc-access.org/

Monday, October 29, 2012

Flowchart Symbols Defined - site

I like this site and visit it from time to time. Mr. Web provides a brief overview of some of the symbols. Although I haven't used the particular product advertised, I thought it was very nice for Mr. Hebb to provide a valuable service, especially to those who are getting started creating flowcharts and student who want to learn more.

Flowchart Symbols Defined
By Nicholas Hebb

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Favorite Quote of the Day from Strunk & White

 "Colloquialisms. If you use colloquialisms or slang word or phrase, simply use it; do not draw attention to it by enclosing it in quotation marks. To do so is to put on airs, as though you were inviting the reader to join you in a select society of those who know better."  (p. 34, Strunk & White, 4th edition, 2000)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Social Networking and Technical Communication

Take a note of advice from other forms of writing

Creative writing authors use social networking to communicate with their audience and other writers keeping people informed as to their accomplishments and build an online reputation and presence. People in other businesses like the entertainment industry also use social networking as part of their regimen to a healthy career. You can:

·        Provide an overview of your skills
·        Contact other technical communicators forming a support group
·        Promote others’ work as well as yourself – this shows you are well connected, people know and trust you, and you have skills you have been using for some time.
·        Carefully selected samples – although once on the web it lives on forever so be very careful
·        Learn quickly about job opportunities


Don’t be a Tech Grinch! You work in a technical world so use it.
  • Having a web presence gets you to get better with web-based technologies, show you have that skill to a potential employer, and open up potential job opportunities.
  • You can carefully craft how people see you online
  • Find like-minded people for support, to answer questions (we like doing that, right? It really is part of our job) and just plain learn new things
  • Increasing communication skills that are applicable to everything from speaking with subject matter experts (SMEs) to team members.
  • Identifying resources for everything from software discounts to learning opportunities
  • Let everyone know about your achievements and celebrate with others
  • Highlight your writing specialties: Science writing, white papers, physics, software, usability etc.


  • Exposing yourself to any negative commentary – if you have a blog moderate any comments - there are always critics
  • Spam – so be careful putting out an email address a web bot can scan
  • Posting any questionable materials can risk upsetting a client or employer
  • Sounding too much like you are pitching for a job all the time – you need to try and enjoy those you communicate with
  • Misunderstandings

Pick your format

There are so many forms of social networking. Choose ones that fits you the best. Some of the forms include:
  • Societies – meetings, email lists etc. What societies should you join?
  • Online networking
    • Twitter
    • Linkedin
    • Facebook
    • Blogs (like blogspot – free space)
    • Pininterest
    • Vimeo (video)
    • YouTube
    • Podcasting
    • Direct emailing – free services like mailchimp
    • Live Talks/Lectures/Seminars

There are so many formats of social networking that the list above names only a few. You need to read and explore for yourself.

Marketing Plan

Develop a marketing plan. The same way you keep your resume updated if you freelance you need to think about what you will do and will not do or show with social networking. Since many technical writing jobs are freelance, you want to make sure you get out there and people know who you are and what you are capable of doing for your client. Try thinking about:
  • Your overall goals and scope of your social networking
  • What you like to talk about professionally?
  • How you want to present yourself?
  • Whom you want to talk to?
  • Manage your career more effectively through presentation of information
  • How will you handle critics should they pop up (aka cyber-hate)?
  • Use a professional way to name yourself as a user online – odd names used online turn people off especially for email. This will stick with you so think carefully about it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Culver City CA STC Luncheon

When: Thursday, October 18, 12 noon - 1:30 pm

Where: LUNCH, 3829 Main Street, Culver City, CA 90232; Telephone: 310-837-6200

Directions: LUNCH is on Main Street, between Venice and Culver Boulevards.

Parking: Free parking in nearby public garages. The lot behind the Bank of America on Culver is very close.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Interesting outlook and info from the Bureau  of Labor Statistics on technical writing


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

OCSTC newsletter is available for April

TechniScribe is OCSTC's award-winning newsletter. TechniScribe provides members and the public with information about trends, technologies, and opportunities in technical communication. TechniScribe also provides members with an opportunity to publish reviews, articles, and regular columns in an industry-recognized publication.


Monday, April 9, 2012

What applies to tech com

I really like reading Greg Pinkus' blog. Though it isn't about technical communication, I feel what he says applies. Social media can be used this way to promote ourselves as technical communicators. Check out this post.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

LASTC Culver City Lunchtime Forum - Thursday, March 29

The next Culver City Forum is on Thursday, March 29. Lu  will lead the discussion on “Dissemination of Knowledge and Technical Communication Using Wikis.” 

When: Thursday, March 29, 12 noon - 1:15 pm

Where: LUNCH, 3829 Main Street, Culver City, CA 90232; Telephone: 310-837-6200

Directions: LUNCH is on Main Street, between Venice and Culver Boulevards.

Parking: Free parking in nearby public garages. The lot behind the Bank of America on Culver is very close.

Friday, March 16, 2012

STC Summit

The STC Summit happens May 20-23 in Chicago.
 Check out more details at http://summit.stc.org/hotel-travel/