The value of a writer

Zachry and Ferro’s article, Technical Communication Unbound, helped me organize my thoughts on a topic that has been circulating in my mind for some time: the value of a writer.

This particular part of their article was the source of inspiration for the topic of this post:

“..it now appears that the tasks of those working in the profession are necessarily expanding to include such concerns as real-time monitoring of texts and other communicative performances that circulate in the network of social media.”

Since the responsibilities of a writer are evolving and expanding, I would hope that this means that the respect and appreciation for tech writers is increasing with it.

In my own personal experience, this is not so.  At my place of employment, more importance is placed on skills such as design or coding, which has been made completely clear to me from recent conversations with my boss.  In fact, I’ve been told that my position as a content writer, “requires no real skills.”

With the emergence of social media and its emphasis on shorthand writing forms, it is easy for one to think less of writing or not even think of it as a useful skill at all.

I suppose that I worry that, with the increase of responsibilities, tech writers will be thought of more as an administrative assistant with a laundry lists of tasks to accomplish and less like a professional with useful skills.

Posted on November 10, 2014, in Digital, Society, Workplace and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I think you make some very good points, especially on social media writing being seen as less of a skill set. In my previous job, there was an attitude of social media being “easy” to write for, and I had to learn to position myself not only as a writing ‘guru’ but a social media expert. That meant studying the algorithm, demographics and successful cadence, communicating that knowledge back to my superiors and adjusting the writing to fit the audience need. There is an art to writing for social media because it involves campaigns, marketing, audience study and a knack for wit & engagement. Those skills are anything but easy!

  2. Agreed. We must have other skills than writing if we want to be considered an added value to the company. While what employers want is good writing, perhaps they see it as good design skills, or web skills, and just expect strong writing to be there too. I tend to peruse this site, and here are the May 2013 results for the salary for technical writers: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes273042.htm. This page helps me take heart–we still have a presence and a value!

  3. An overall theme from the blogs in this class and the discussion posts in my other class is that we as a group must be more than technical writers. We must be technical communicators. We must be able to use all sorts of media in order to effectively communicate. From what I have gathered, the technical writer must know everyone else’s job in order to propagate an idea between departments. The writer must know everyone else’s language in order to move the project along to their own desk and to produce a document that accurately represents what the engineers have developed, legal can defend, marketing can advertise, and the sales people can sell.

    In the end, I have heard, any success will be due to everyone pulling together. If the technical writer gets mention at all, it will be because they made the deadline even though they were given two days to complete their task rather than the allotted two weeks.

  4. natashajmceachin

    This post is troubling, but I can relate to it. I’m currently seeking employment and many of the positions I’ve run across titled “Marketing Assistant”, “Technical Writer”, and “Operation’s Assistant” that are pretty much administrative roles. Many staffing agencies would present these jobs to me, and I found it sort of misleading. I see exactly what you’re talking about in the job force.

  5. I would hope that a tech writer or communicator is considered a vital part of any team, but I can see how some of the current job titles may veer toward admin duties.
    Something I’ve noticed in the past year or so though are articles like these saying why English majors are the perfect hires: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/why-english-majors-are-the-hot-new-hires/ and http://readwrite.com/2014/02/25/why-every-tech-company-needs-an-english-major. There’s hope!

  6. If my boss ever told me that my position “requires no real skills” I would look for a different job.

  1. Pingback: Written items: Most often vs. Most valued | Communication Strategies for Emerging Media

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