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Where do I go from here?

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by tripwire45, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    As many of you know from my thread in the Jobs forum, I'm currently out of a day job as of last Thursday. My last two contract jobs have been less than a perfect fit for me and my employers and I'm wondering if a pattern is beginning to emerge?

    I seem to be at an impasse in terms of my skill sets. My wife suggested perhaps taking a night class or otherwise expand my "bag of tricks". I think I can still access free online training through my recruiter (have to check on that Monday) and I certainly have a ton of books available thanks to the fact that I review them hand over fist.

    The question is, what direction would make me more marketable as a technical writer *and* either add on to what I already know or fit what I seem to be capable of learning?

    I know the question is full of land mines and trap doors, since there are about as many flavors of technical writers as there are distros of Linux. Just so you don't have to "shoot in the dark" with your suggestions, have a look at my online CV and get an idea of my education and experience before answering.

    Of course, I'm already looking for another job, but since I'll have a little time on my hands, this might be a good opportunity to do some self-improvement while I'm looking.

    The ball is in your court. Ideas?
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  2. wizard

    wizard Petabyte Poster

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    I can't give much advice here, apart from asking you, what would like to do jobwise?
     
    Certifications: SIA DS Licence
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  3. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    I'm not sure if anyone would pay me for this, but I have pondered the question. I think my "ideal" job would be to be able to document some team or organization's process and then maintain that process.

    I did something similar for the software development and support team at Micron. Five of their software groups had all merged together and they needed a brand new intranet site build in SharePoint. I taught myself enough html, CSS, and JavaScript to get by as well as teaching myself how to use SharePoint (making plenty of mistakes along the way). If Micron hadn't suffered such massive financial problems resulting in equally massive layoffs, I'd likely have been permanently hired.

    I also enjoy doing research on the internet, finding resources, articles, tutorials, and stories (sort of what I do now for fun, posting said info on forums), gathering that data together and providing the information in a web interface. I feel I don't have a strong enough technical background to take a lot of professional level tech knowledge and create documentation without support from more technical people, but I can take what I'm provided with and organize it so it's in one place and is an accessible resource for whatever audience needs it.

    I guess to be honest, I'm a better "end user" documenter than a "professional" or "developer" documenter. I think therein lies my problem.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  4. wizard

    wizard Petabyte Poster

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    Trip,

    Do you mean something similar to six sigma, which is all about process improvement?
     
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  5. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Alas, I recognized the term but didn't know what it meant, so looked it up:
    In principle, I would probably have to answer yes, but as far as knowing the specifics of the sigma six process and technology, I'm clueless.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  6. wizard

    wizard Petabyte Poster

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    My employer from 2001-2006 implemented this, however most of us were cynical about it, well those that work for the rail industry can be a bunch of cynical so and so's.

    I think the problem was down to the fact that is was the senior management that were being selected as the "champions" instead of those closest to the day to day processes of the business. I'm sure a lot more people would have taken it seriously if more "grass roots" folks were selected.

    In hind sight I think it's a great ideology once you get everyone behind it and pushing it forward.
     
    Certifications: SIA DS Licence
    WIP: A+ 2009
  7. GiddyG

    GiddyG Terabyte Poster Gold Member

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    Trip,

    A good man to ask (I am sure he won't mind me saying) is probably Ken. I know he has gone through elements or levels of it.

    John
     
  8. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    I think one of the major hurdles that you're up against is that documentation is a process that is perceived to cost money, not make money... and anything that is perceived to cost money is typically put on the back burner. Never mind that they COULD save money by streamlining and standardizing processes... documentation isn't typically perceived as that.

    Additionally, for better or for worse, documentation is typically performed by the techs who do the work. Rarely is someone hired specificially for documentation. When that does happen, it's typically for a larger corporation.

    I know that the company I worked for right after Transcender offered consulting and documentation services for clients... but the documentation was typically offered on the side as an extra service... the tech who did the documentation also performed the consulting and analysis. Thus, we were techs first and writers second. In truth... there wasn't much writing "skill" required.

    Unfortunately, I don't have a whole lot of advice about what to do that you're not already doing. I will certainly lift you and your family up in prayer as you guys decide what best for you to do.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
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  9. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    I was shot down on the eLearning front. My recruiter says I have to be actively employed through them to take advantage of those classes (bummer).
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  10. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    I think BM's bang on, most companies don't hire deadicated technical writers for any length of time, they see it as an overhead with no resulting income stream.

    Have you thought of Business Analyst, Project Manager or Knowledge Management roles ?

    Business Analyst and Project Managers normally have the most say in process definition and improvement and sometimes use Sigma Six along with other stuff.

    You said you passed the CCNA a while back ? So it sounds like you could do technical work if you wanted ?

    Theres loads of writing related jobs but this might involve more freelance work, IT Journalist, PR, Author etc but I'm sure you're aware of these...
     
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  11. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Grab some books! :)
     
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  12. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Oh, duh! Now why didn't *I* think of that? :wink:

    The question in my mind has been "books on what"? The answer may be here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_architecture

    http://iainstitute.org/

    http://www.sitepoint.com/article/architecture-defined

    Ok, ok. It's just an idea now, and I might even have to go back to school, depending on how I want to apply this. What inspired my curiousity was a job posting on Dice.com for this position at a local outfit. I'll post the link to the announcement, but you might not be able to get to it without having an account on Dice:

    http://seeker.dice.com/jobsearch/se...+A++DHTML+JavaScript+Microsoft+Visio&rating=0

    To a certain degree, I've dabbled in this relative to my work with SharePoint for Micron and of course, knowledge of web design is part of the job description. What also seems to be part of it (opinions vary) is a background in programming and/or a computer science degree.

    Like I said, I'm shooting from the hip right now, trying to see what I can do to expand my marketability. For all I know, jobs for Information Architects are a rare as proverbial hen's teeth, and I could be painting myself into another corner.

    Just thought I'd post this here are get more opinions, ideas, and experiences.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  13. richardw

    richardw Nibble Poster

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    do a training qualification? CTT+
    strangely enough, your mix of psychology, technical knowledge, writing materials etc is what they look for in trainers.
     
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  14. Sparky
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    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    Sharepoint admin\developer for a corporate perhaps?
     
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  15. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Nix on the developer part, since I don't have the programming skills.
     
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  16. Indo77

    Indo77 Nibble Poster

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    I am a SharePoint Developer. I mainly write .Net web parts for it. I don't see how you would not have the programming skills when you are writing books of such a high caliber that us programmers depend on.
     
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  17. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Thanks for the complement ("high caliber books") but here's the deal. The SharePoint 2007 Definitive Guide book was actually written by about 11 authors. Except for me, they are *all* Microsoft MVPs. I was billed as the lead author and wrote almost half the chapters in the book, but those were from an administrators point of view. The chapters that contained information related to development were written by people with those skill sets.

    The SharePoint 2007 book I just finished for Sybex maps to the 70-630 certification exam which does not include content on application development. The focus is on administration which is within my abilities. Microsoft maintains a separate SharePoint 2007 cert for developers and I am not qualified to write that particular book.

    I am developing (no pun intended) a plan to expand my skill sets as can be found in this thread:

    http://www.certforums.co.uk/forums/thread23530.html
     
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  18. TimoftheC

    TimoftheC Kilobyte Poster

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    Was going to suggest something similar - although I admit I haven't completely read all of the posts :blink

    You seem to have very good and deep understanding of the IT industry and various certifications Trip, why not consider some form of lecturing - hell, you’ve probably written or been involved in the books that peeps are using to learn from anyhows. I have no idea what additional qualifications you would need to lecture full time but what about taking some IT classes for adults at night school?
     
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  19. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Nobody lectures full-time unless they're a teacher at a school somewhere. Most guest lecturers have a "day job" where they practice some sort of technology and then lecture to promote their business, books, etc...

    My literary agent says there's always a market for these video courses. Frankly, I did one for the Network+ and hated it. I felt distinctly like an idiot creating these little movie files, recording my voice and what I'm doing on the screen. Also, I'm just not good at it.

    I was supposed to step into a trainer role at my previous job but it never materialized...probably because I needed more familiarity with the stuff I was supposed to be training on and that's the key. In order to train on something, you really, really, really, have to know the material well. It's not just a matter of following the course syllabus but you have to be able to answer all manner of questions from the students and whatever pops into their head.

    From my perspective, and knowing what's already in (and out) of *my* head, I feel I need to do more training in various areas to improve my employability beyond the "technical writer" arena. As I've discovered, there are just so many jobs for tech writers in my little corner of the world and if I want to gain access to more opportunities across a wider field, I'll need to know more than I do now.

    I could see adding the trainer role at some point, but I'm not sure what I'd be doing by going out and earning the CTT+ certification at this point. While I appreciate the suggestion, it just doesn't *call* to me right now.

    On the other hand, I am getting something out of studying the HTML Dog book, formalizing my knowledge in HTML and CSS (I've taken a rather kloogie approach up to this point) and revisiting my beginner Python lessons as well.

    My response here doesn't mean I don't value all your suggestions or that I have stopped asking. Please, continue with the brainstorming. I have only one brain myself and it is limited. You all will likely think of options that have completely escaped me.

    Thanks again, everyone. :)
     
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  20. neutralhills

    neutralhills Kilobyte Poster

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    Who is it more important that you be marketable to? Employers or publishers?
     
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