Monday, January 28, 2008

Rude and/or Short-Sighted

This job search continues to be interesting. I am continually amazed how rude HR departments are. Even at the smallest of startups, no response to inquiries, either initial or follow-up. Didn't their mothers teach them better? It may now be considered par for the course, but that doesn't make it right.

I've talked to a couple of startups wanting contractors. One said they'd had some trouble with continuity with previous contractors, and could I fix that? Um, the reason you have continuity issues with contractors is because you only use contractors. Bring someone in for one project with a really tight timeline, boot them out when it's done, repeat several weeks or months later when you need revisions or have a new project effort. There's no one to establish an overall vision for the documentation for your company, not even a simple style guide. The startups actually lose money in the long run this way with the time spent by each subsequent contractor to ramp up on the product and the technology. Not to mention the lack of consistency over time.

Technical writers can do more than "just" write end-user pieces. They can contribute to the development cycle by developing templates for specification documents, and then work with developers to edit those specs. They can work with user interface developers, partner with quality assurance and technical support, help out to make sure marketing material is technically accurate. And so on.

One company I talked to realized literally last week that they need some online help for their product. They want to launch it in April, so the deadline is end of March. They have no idea how they will integrate it, no developers with experience hooking in online help, no plan to test it, and no tools. I pitched myself as an experienced permanent writer with my part-time hours and what I could do. If they do find someone to take it on as a contract, they will need to budget for more that 40 hours per week of that contractor's time, and in the end, they will pay much, much more than if they hired me with a modified vision for the March deadline but a more complete and business-savvy plan for documentation over the long-haul. Which direction do you think they will go?

Back to it.

1 comment:

Pantheist Mom said...

Hang in there.
You are a treasure.