How Technical Writers Can Move Further Up The Food Chain

I hear this on LinkedIn and Facebook from technical writers: “people don’t respect the work I do.”

Well, if that’s the case, here are a few ways to get more respect and move into a more rewarding career.

Define Respect – first, you need to define what you are really looking for? What in others would demonstrate that they respect you? It is financial rewards, credit, acknowledgment or other things. Check that you’re not being over-sensitive or running yourself down. People who don’t respect themselves, never earn respect from others. It’s one long downward cycle.

Getting Bullied – if you feel you’re the butt of their jokes, getting run down, disrespected and ridiculed, then maybe, maybe, maybe there is some bullying going on here. You need to face these people and assert yourself. If you don’t, the same pattern will repeat itself at the next job.

Office Trolls – these people don’t respect anyone. They’re emotional vampires. Don’t take it personally. Even if you do a great job, you’ll never earn their respect. But here’s the thing. Would you want their respect, anyway?

Lack of recognition – if there is a trend/habit of certain staff getting rewarded, while you continually get overlooked, then flag it (be careful – this can back-fire if you’re seeing to be whining) or find ways to address it.

Or just accept that you work with a bunch of jerks!

What to do next

Be active – if your work environment doesn’t see the value in what you do, then get out there and start looking for alternatives. Remember, it’s always easier to get a job when you have a job.

Re-Positioning Yourself – technical writers with 5+ years experience should/could be looking at re-positioning themselves as Content Strategists, Web Content Consultants and other roles where your ‘knowledge’ in more valued. This is where the real money is. It may take you 12-18 months to make this transition but once there the rewards, respects, and career development make it worthwhile.

Perception – Technical writing is often seen by mgt as a service, in the same way that testing, customer support etc are services, i.e. useful but not *always* essential. As long as you’re a writer, people see you as providing a service. And the services industry is very far down the food chain.

Interesting places to look – if you have a taste for adventure, Brazil, Australia, India, China, Poland, Dubai, and others in the Gulf are actively seeking experienced IT professionals. While there are many barriers to moving to these counties, such as language, food, families, health etc, US multi-nationals with offices in these locations can be very supportive of people willing to give it a try. Google, Oracle, IBM, and most of the Nasdaq 100 have offices in Asia. If you’re interested, call them or visit their website. It can’t hurt to look.

What do you think?

What suggestions would you give to someone who wanted to develop their technical writing career or re-position themselves, for example, to move out of documentation and into a new field?