Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Hiring
Excellence:
Seven Habits of Highly Successful
Technical Communicators
Pa...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Panelists
• Carolyn Watt (1990’s)
– STC Associate Fellow and former STC Board M...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
About this Presentation
• Presented to the STC Conference in 2006 in Las Vegas
...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Presentation Overview
• Introduction
• Seven Traits
• Ethical Conduct
• Technic...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
What is a technical communicator?
Definitions
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Technical writers put technical information into easily
understandable langua...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Develop and design instructional and informational tools needed to
assure saf...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• A person working in a professional or technical setting, who
– is able to rea...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Technical Communicators
• Technical Communicators are…
– Technical Writers
– Te...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Building the profile of a professional
technical communicator
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
What We Bring
to the Table
Behaviours
Traits Skills
Technical
ExpertiseHabits
E...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Traits
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Successful Technical Communicators are
1. confident
2. passionate
3. driven to ...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• To try new things
• To actively seek out needed
resources
• To stand up for w...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• User champion
• Pride in your work
• Drive for excellence
• Not satisfied wit...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Natural curiosity and desire to
innovate
• Interested in all aspects of the
t...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Able to identify problems and
act independently to solve
them
• Sees the oppo...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Industry isn’t static
• It’s up to you to keep learning
– New skills
– New te...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Quickly learn new technology
• Be able to train others
• Understand the domai...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Sees change as opportunity
• Capable of moving out of their
comfort zone
• Ad...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Behaviours
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Ethical Conduct
• Ethical behaviour supports the theory and practice of technic...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Abide by Professional Standards
• Be honest in communication and about qualific...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Comply with Appropriate Laws
• Honor copyrights, patents, and other property ri...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Skills
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Technical Skills
• Requisite skills are under constant change
• Important to fo...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Project Planning
• Project Analysis
• Solution Design
• Organizational Design...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
2
8
• Demonstrate your skill in
planning projects for
delivering information
pr...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Demonstrate your skill in
analyzing requirements for
developing information
p...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Demonstrate your ability to
design high‐level solutions
for implementing
info...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Demonstrate your ability to
design the organization of
information products.
...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Demonstrate your ability to
compose content and
communicate in written
form.
...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Demonstrate your knowledge
of visual communication
principles that support
wr...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Demonstrate your
knowledge of content
development principles and
ability to d...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
DITA
XML
METADATA
WIKIS
• Demonstrate your
knowledge of content
management prin...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Demonstrate your
knowledge of final
production principles and
processes.
• Fa...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Hiring excellence
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Hiring Excellence
• What to look for as a hiring manager
– How do you determine...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Then and Now
• As evidenced by the pace of change over the past few decades, ou...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Twenty years ago
– Exacting researcher
– Efficient organizer
– Skillful repor...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Today
– Knowledge of online publishing technologies
– Creation of metadata
– ...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Role of technology
• Then
– Technical writers wrote about technology
• Now
– Te...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Technological advances
• You must develop with the industry
• Changes in 20 yea...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Looking at technical skills
• Review resume and probe the use of the tools they...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Looking at soft skills
• Are they presentable?
• Do they project an aura of con...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Professional development
• Technical Communicators need to stay connected with ...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Technical Communication
Certification
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Certification Drivers
• Legitimize the contributions of, and respect for, our p...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
4
9
• Certification is an objective,
portable, personal credential
that is asso...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Value to Employers
• Employers find that certified
professionals are more often...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
• Certification first discussed in 1964
• First STC-sanctioned Ad Hoc Committee...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Expanding Certification Beyond Writers
• Areas of practice can be
weighted
• Sp...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
0
50000
100000
150000
200000
250000
300000
350000
400000
450000
PMP Growth, 198...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Example of Salary Impact
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Role of the STC in your career
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Badge of a Professional
• Hiring an STC member means hiring a professional with...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
The STC Supports its Members
• Traditional Channels
– Publications
– Online Res...
Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015
stctoronto.org
Questions?
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Seven Traits of Successful Technical Communicators

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STC Presentation to 2006 Conference in Las Vegas and STC Toronto Career Day in 2008
and STC Toronto Management Day in 2009

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Seven Traits of Successful Technical Communicators

  1. 1. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Hiring Excellence: Seven Habits of Highly Successful Technical Communicators Past-Presidents’ Panel May 26, 2015
  2. 2. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Panelists • Carolyn Watt (1990’s) – STC Associate Fellow and former STC Board Member – President of Carolyn Watt & Associates Inc. • Rob Hanna (2005-2007) – STC Fellow and former STC Board Member – President of Precision Content Authoring Solutions Inc • Bernard Aschwanden (2007-2009) – Incoming President of the STC – President of Publishing Smarter • Anna Parker-Richards (2009-2011) – STC Associate Fellow – Co-founder of COMM4RESULTS.COM
  3. 3. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org About this Presentation • Presented to the STC Conference in 2006 in Las Vegas • Panel co-presenters/co-authors: – Amber Swope – IBM – Lisa Swallow – Mentor Graphics – Rob Frankland – Sock Monkey – Rob Hanna – ASCan Enterprises – Visnja Beg – IBM • Other presentations to local STC chapters
  4. 4. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Presentation Overview • Introduction • Seven Traits • Ethical Conduct • Technical Skills • Hiring Trends • Supporting the Profession • Q&A
  5. 5. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org What is a technical communicator? Definitions
  6. 6. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Technical writers put technical information into easily understandable language. They prepare operating and maintenance manuals, catalogues, parts lists, assembly instructions, sales promotion materials, and project proposals. Many technical writers work with engineers on technical subject matters to prepare written interpretations of engineering and design specifications and other information for a general readership. Technical writers also may serve as part of a team conducting usability studies to help improve the design of a product that still is in the prototype stage. They plan and edit technical materials and oversee the preparation of illustrations, photographs, diagrams, and charts. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Technical Writers
  7. 7. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Develop and design instructional and informational tools needed to assure safe, appropriate and effective use of science and technology, intellectual property, and manufactured products and services. Combines multi-media knowledge and strong communication skills with technical expertise to educate across the entire spectrum of users’ abilities, technical experience, and visual and auditory capabilities. Proposed BLS Definition: STC.org Technical Communicators
  8. 8. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • A person working in a professional or technical setting, who – is able to readily adapt to a new subject area – can select and assess the type and level of communication required to • meet the needs of the intended audience, and • support the intended purpose of the information – has knowledge, skills, and abilities to • select and effectively apply appropriate tools, and • plan and execute an information solution within constraints of corporate and regulatory requirements and appropriate industry standards – ensures stakeholders and consumers benefit from safe, appropriate, and effective use of the subject product or service. STC Certification Commission A Typical Professional Technical Communicator is
  9. 9. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Technical Communicators • Technical Communicators are… – Technical Writers – Technical Editors – Information Developers – Information Architects – Documentation Specialists – Instructional Designers – Technical Illustrators
  10. 10. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Building the profile of a professional technical communicator
  11. 11. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org What We Bring to the Table Behaviours Traits Skills Technical ExpertiseHabits Ethics
  12. 12. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Traits
  13. 13. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Successful Technical Communicators are 1. confident 2. passionate 3. driven to explore 4. creative problem solvers 5. continuously learning 6. technically apt, and 7. comfortable with chaosSeven Traits
  14. 14. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • To try new things • To actively seek out needed resources • To stand up for what you believe to be right • To advocate for the user Self-confident
  15. 15. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • User champion • Pride in your work • Drive for excellence • Not satisfied with “just a job” • Works within Communities of Practice • Do you see yourself as a professional? Passionate about what you do
  16. 16. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Natural curiosity and desire to innovate • Interested in all aspects of the technical communication business • Regularly makes time to explore • Does not wait for others to tell them what the best solutions are • Not afraid to try something different Driven to explore
  17. 17. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Able to identify problems and act independently to solve them • Sees the opportunity in adversity • Can identify and effectively explain issues before they become problems • Persistent • Think creatively Creative problem solver
  18. 18. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Industry isn’t static • It’s up to you to keep learning – New skills – New technologies – New tricks • Develop and revise career goals to stretch beyond your current state • Make your own personal investment and don’t rely solely on your employer Continuously learning new things
  19. 19. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Quickly learn new technology • Be able to train others • Understand the domain about which you write • Be able to communicate this knowledge Technically apt
  20. 20. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Sees change as opportunity • Capable of moving out of their comfort zone • Adaptable • Able to surf through the chaos Comfortable with chaos
  21. 21. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Behaviours
  22. 22. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Ethical Conduct • Ethical behaviour supports the theory and practice of technical communication so that businesses and customers benefit from safe, appropriate, and effective use of products, information, and services • John Hedtke describes ethical conduct as: – Abiding by professional standards, and – Complying with appropriate laws
  23. 23. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Abide by Professional Standards • Be honest in communication and about qualifications in circumstances that might lead to conflicts of interest. • Strive for excellence in delivered products and processes. • Acquire and maintain professional expertise. • Help others understand the value of technical communication. • Honor professional commitments.
  24. 24. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Comply with Appropriate Laws • Honor copyrights, patents, and other property rights and acknowledge the authorship and ownership of intellectual property. • Avoid harm to others through incomplete or inaccurate communication. • Honor confidentiality and respect the privacy of others. • Obey the laws and policies concerning technical communication and data privacy and security of my country and my company.
  25. 25. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Skills
  26. 26. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Technical Skills • Requisite skills are under constant change • Important to focus on the applicant’s adaptability and willingness to learn new skills • Look at categories of skills rather than specific skills with a single technology or piece of software
  27. 27. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Project Planning • Project Analysis • Solution Design • Organizational Design • Written Communication • Visual Communication • Content Development • Content Management • Final Production Competencies • User, Task, Experience Analysis • Information Design • Process Management • Information Development • Information Production Practice Areas Assessing Areas of Practice
  28. 28. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org 2 8 • Demonstrate your skill in planning projects for delivering information products. • Factors include developing a plan for creating and tracking the implementation of an information product. Documentation Planning
  29. 29. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Demonstrate your skill in analyzing requirements for developing information products. • Factors include analyzing audience, task, and data requirements for developing an information product. Documentation Analysis Filippo, Elizabeth. “The Road to Personas" Intercom 56.1 Jan. 2009: 22
  30. 30. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Demonstrate your ability to design high‐level solutions for implementing information products. • Factors include research methodology and synthesis of research results into an overall design solution. Solution Design
  31. 31. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Demonstrate your ability to design the organization of information products. • Factors include selection and construction of an organizational framework that defines the information architecture. Information Architecture
  32. 32. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Demonstrate your ability to compose content and communicate in written form. • Factors include writing style, use of structural elements, appropriateness of presentation for the intended audience, and consistency. Written Communication
  33. 33. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Demonstrate your knowledge of visual communication principles that support written content. • Factors include templates, styles, graphics, signal words, layout, and navigation. Visual Literacy Dragga, Sam; Voss, Dan. "Cruel Pies: The Inhumanity of Technical Illustrations" Technical Communication 48.3 Aug. 2001: 265-274
  34. 34. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Demonstrate your knowledge of content development principles and ability to develop content. • Factors include your ability to review, edit, and verify content. Content Development Read Don Bush, STC Fellow “The Friendly Editor” in back issues of Intercom online
  35. 35. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org DITA XML METADATA WIKIS • Demonstrate your knowledge of content management principles and ability to manage content. • Factors include – collaboration and workflow – topic‐based authoring – structured authoring – single‐source authoring and reuse – metadata – version control and archiving Content Management
  36. 36. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Demonstrate your knowledge of final production principles and processes. • Factors include handling for both electronic and print outputs. Production Processes
  37. 37. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Hiring excellence
  38. 38. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Hiring Excellence • What to look for as a hiring manager – How do you determine who is likely the best candidate from a resume and interview? – Questions and techniques to use to “weed out” and identify excellent candidates. – Know what position you are looking to fill but also what skills are lacking on your team or may be useful. – Understand the personality traits that will enable the candidate to fit in to the team, the environment, the company.
  39. 39. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Then and Now • As evidenced by the pace of change over the past few decades, our profession is under constant change • Some believe that we are on the precipice of a major technological change not just in technical communication but in the way we all communicate – Gollner, Joe; Stilo 2008 http://www.slideshare.net/abelsp/workshop-content-engineering
  40. 40. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Twenty years ago – Exacting researcher – Efficient organizer – Skillful reporter – Accomplished teacher – Publisher’s apprentice – Science and engineering devotee – Graphic arts patron Trends in Hiring Practices
  41. 41. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Today – Knowledge of online publishing technologies – Creation of metadata – Content management – Localization – Audience-centric focus – Write well – Visualize Information Trends in Hiring Practices
  42. 42. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Role of technology • Then – Technical writers wrote about technology • Now – Technology is embedded in what we write about technology – We write less and manipulate text
  43. 43. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Technological advances • You must develop with the industry • Changes in 20 years – New delivery mediums – New delivery mechanisms – New skills – New expectations – New tools – New technologies
  44. 44. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Looking at technical skills • Review resume and probe the use of the tools they have used. – How much knowledge in the tools and for what purpose they used them – Probe use of various writing methodologies – Knowledge of tools/skills, how much? – Possible use of standardized technical aptitude test
  45. 45. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Looking at soft skills • Are they presentable? • Do they project an aura of confidence but not cockiness? • Do they answer questions without hesitation and are able to present examples of what they have done in certain situations? • Use behavior based interviewing that probes examples of how candidates have dealt with various situations (BBSI).
  46. 46. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Professional development • Technical Communicators need to stay connected with changes in the field • Look for candidates that identify with the profession outside of 9-5 • Look for candidates that make an ongoing effort to connect, renew, and develop through professional associations
  47. 47. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Technical Communication Certification
  48. 48. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Certification Drivers • Legitimize the contributions of, and respect for, our profession • Establish uniform worldwide performance standards • Increase the employability and earning potential for certified practitioners • Reduce risk for employers • Satisfy employers’ expectations
  49. 49. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org 4 9 • Certification is an objective, portable, personal credential that is associated with higher salaries, job-hunting advantages, and better job opportunities The Value to Practitioners
  50. 50. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Value to Employers • Employers find that certified professionals are more often competent and successful than uncertified ones • Employers spend less to hire, train, and replace certified employees • Therefore, employers seek out and pay more for certified professionals
  51. 51. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org • Certification first discussed in 1964 • First STC-sanctioned Ad Hoc Committee on Certification in 1975 • Membership surveys: 1975, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1995, 1997 • Certification RFP issued in 1985 • Feasibility study commissioned in 1998 • Began work on Body of Knowledge (BOK) in 2007 • Benchmarking report on professions in 2008 • Approved by STC Board on 30 April 2010 • First certifications issued: 2012 • Certification program suspended: 2013 • Program relaunched: 2015 Certification Milestones
  52. 52. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Expanding Certification Beyond Writers • Areas of practice can be weighted • Specialty certifications (future) • Opportunity for partnerships with other organizations
  53. 53. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org 0 50000 100000 150000 200000 250000 300000 350000 400000 450000 PMP Growth, 1984–2010 2010: 412,000 PMPs 2002: 50,000 PMPs1993: 1000 PMPs
  54. 54. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Example of Salary Impact
  55. 55. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Role of the STC in your career
  56. 56. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Badge of a Professional • Hiring an STC member means hiring a professional with all the tools in his/her toolbox • Hire an STC member and get access to a vast network of professionals and resources
  57. 57. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org The STC Supports its Members • Traditional Channels – Publications – Online Resources – Local and Virtual Communities – Competitions – Learning Opportunities • Emerging Channels – STC Body of Knowledge – Professional Certification
  58. 58. Past-Presidents’ Panel 2015 stctoronto.org Questions?

×