Nary a day goes by without the major job sites posting idyllic opportunities at all sorts of emerging, disruptive, innovative, customer-focused organizations. And nary a one of those posts fails to list an impressive set of tools that candidates should have mastered. In tech comm, we have held a long-running debate on the value of tools mastery versus “soft skills.” It’s ridiculous, the argument goes, that companies should place more emphasis on knowing a HAT or the Office suite, than the ability to research, interview, analyze or write coherently. A worthy argument, but tools expertise is a way to winnow down a vast number of resumes to a reasonable set of candidates. Rather than rehashing that specific argument, we felt it was important to look at technology expertise through another lens. Industries of all kinds continue to automate, and it’s those industry tools that we want to take a serious look at.
If, as another argument goes, content professionals ultimately become a subject matter expert in the area(s) in which they create content, then how can you demonstrate that expertise in a few bullet points on the resume? In fact, professionals of all sorts are expected to master whatever tools of the trade, and of the industry, that are standard–that’s why every posting includes a list. Many of those tools focus on analysis and processing of information or transactions in that field. Want a job in a customer-focused retail organization? Knowing the standard tools, principles, and processes of customer relationship management (CRM), as well as those “strong written and verbal communications skills” becomes the only way to wedge your foot inside that door.
We already know that expertise with a CMS, various authoring tools, and standards like DITA are essential to the communications professionals. Now, we’re curious to see what kind of technology expertise today’s organizations are seeking in the individuals that want to join their teams. Perhaps the size of the company, or their competitive position has an impact on how they’ve automated and what they expect (e.g. SharePoint versus more evolved CMS tools). Perhaps the general state of that industry dictates the required tool sets. What trends are you seeing? And which technologies do you think our profession should master to demonstrate overall value to today’s organizations? Take a moment to vote in the poll, and post a comment to this piece with your thoughts. It could drive some future conversations, and coverage on TechWhirl, and that’s a good thing.