I’m guessing that when most of you read through the title of this article, you silently nodded your head in frustrated understanding. The following scenarios might be right up your alley, check them out and as an exercise in comradery, let us know in the comments below if these experiences are familiar to you in your career.
You are applying for a job with the title: technical writer. You’ve been writing and editing technical documentation in your current role for the past 5 years as a Communication Specialist. You apply. You get an interview. You show up excited and prepared. The interview unfolds as follows:
Interviewer: So, you have a master’s degree in English?
You: Yes, I do. My emphasis was in Professional Writing. I graduated in 2015.
Interviewer: You say in your application that you have 5 years of technical writing experience; however, I do not see technical writer listed anywhere in your job experience. How do you explain that?
You: Deep breath. I’m sure they read through my well-articulated job responsibilities listed underneath Communication Specialist. They didn’t just gloss over everything I wrote. I got this.
You are at a stuffy cocktail party. You’ve been trapped by a sweater vest asking you about your job history.
Sweater Vest: So, your master’s degree is in Professional Writing? So, you write books?
You: Not exactly. I do write, but I write technical documentation. Think instruction manuals or workplace documentation.
Sweater Vest: …so, what is your title?
You: I am a business analyst.
Sweater Vest: So, you aren’t a writer then? You analyze business trends.
You: Scanning the room frantically searching for anyone to save you from this conversation, when what I really want to reply is “so where did you get the sweater vest?” It is impossible for a job title to perfectly incapsulate every complex facet of your professional role. This is true for most career fields. However, it seems the vague and incomplete job description happens at a more exorbitant rate in technical communications.
While your main responsibilities fall under the wide umbrella of technical communications, ”Technical Writer” as a job title doesn’t happen all that often. Or when it does, it’s an excuse to offer lower salaries and minimal career progression. which adds to the frustration from business failing to recognize technical communications as a profession.