We’ve added a new vacancy to our site: #4159, Digital Content Manager, Central London, circa £50K.
Our client is looking to recruit a permanent Technical Author to join a team of writers that provides global support documentation for its range of scientific products.
You’ll be part of the team that creates and updates service-related information for scientific instrument equipment. You’ll be involved in the installation procedures, as well as maintenance and diagnostics of the internal hardware and electronics.
For more information, see Job: #4156 Technical Author, Cheshire
We’ve had an enquiry from someone looking for 1-2 Technical Authors to help out on a potential project which would start in June. The content will be created using Word and FrameMaker, and ideally you will have skills in using both applications.
They are looking for Technical Authors with:
- Experience of military land vehicles and/or their components, including IT hardware and software.
- Experience of documentation relating to submarines and surface ships.
You need to have a track record of at least 18 months technical authoring. Please send us your CV, plus details on on what your day rates would be if offered a 6-month contract.
The Institute of Technical Communicators has kindly provided us with additional data for our Location of Technical Authors map. They’ve supplied us with an anonymised list of the location of ISTC members. These are indicated by the peach coloured pins on the map.
It confirms the locations where there are shortages of Technical Authors, with the exception of two areas: Birmingham and Glasgow. It also suggests new clusters: one around Colchester and Ipswich, and another around Cardiff.
Simon Morisawa-Bostock pointed me towards an article on gender bias in job advertisements (You Don’t Know It, But Women See Gender Bias in Your Job Postings):
A scientific study of 4,000 job descriptions revealed that a lack of gender-inclusive wording caused significant implications for recruiting professionals tasked to recruit women to hard-to-fill positions underrepresented by women.
Researchers studied gender wording in job advertisements and job descriptions and the effect of gender wording on job seekers. The researchers first established that women’s style of communication is more communal, using more emotional and social words than men’s style of speech.
The researchers linguistically coded job descriptions found in a U.S. Department of Labor database that were predominately populated for masculine-themed words such as active, ambitious, analytical, competitive, dominate, challenging, confident, decisive, determined, independent, leader, objective, etc., as well as feminine-themed words such as committed, connected, cooperative, dependable, interpersonal, loyal, responsible, supportive, trust, etc. The results confirmed that job descriptions for male-dominated jobs contained more masculine-themed words associated with male stereotypes than job descriptions from female-dominated jobs and vice versa.
Alarm bells ring in my mind when people talk about “a women’s style of communication”. As a number of commentators at the end of the article pointed out, many of the words and phrases the researchers identified as “gender-themed” could also be attributed to differing personality and behavioural styles.
Technical Authoring is a profession that has a roughly 50:50 gender split, requiring some so-called masculine traits (e.g. independent, analytical, active) and some so-called feminine traits (e.g. committed, connected, cooperative, dependable, responsible, supportive). However, there are some “masculine” traits you wouldn’t normally associate with the role and expect to see in a job advert – such as competitive, dominate, challenging, confident, decisive and determined.
We do receive, on occasions, job descriptions that don’t really reflect the attributes associated with successful technical communicators. Part of the value a specialist technical author recruitment agency provides is to reword job descriptions so that will attract the right type of candidates. I took a brief look at some of the recent job descriptions we’ve received from clients, and I couldn’t find any evidence of a dominance of “masculine” or “feminine” words in the job descriptions. From that perspective, there was no particular bias that needed to be mitigated.
I looked at whether some of the “masculine” words appeared in job adverts for Technical Authors posted elsewhere on the Web. Again, there seemed to be no particular bias. Having said that, there were a few notable examples:
“As Technical/Training Author you must boast a great knowledge and experience in technical authoring, a demonstrable record of producing high-quality technical documentation and materials within a software product environment, and experience of training external clients and internal teams. … This role demands a confident, client facing Technical Author who is at with working in a software house.”
“As an exceptional Technical Author you will be adept at delivering reader-friendly, technically accurate and complete product documentation on time to demanding schedules…Our client is looking for only the most exceptional and talented candidates – true rockstars of their profession.”
I suspect these organisations will struggle to find suitable candidates.
What do you think? Have you seen inappropriately worded job descriptions for Technical Authors? Share your thoughts below.
Sarah Maddox’s post on how she has added “techcomm titbits” onto an interactive map, prompted me to look at whether we could create a map showing the location of Technical Authors around the UK. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for years, and Sarah’s post suggested it was much easier to do these days, thanks to Google’s applications.
The map needs data, so if you are a Technical Author, please add your details to the map:
We will not include your name or email address on the map. However we do need your name and email address in order to check the integrity of the data and to update you of any developments. You can use the postcode of a neighbouring street, if you wish.
We currently have an intermittent problem with our website. If you see an Error Establishing Database connection message, please refresh the page and it should appear.
May and June are shaping up to be very busy times at Cherryleaf, and we may be looking for additional people to work with us on some of our software end user documentation projects.
If you are a London-based Technical Author interested in a few weeks work in May and June, do contact us.
One question that seems to being asked a lot by our clients at the moment, is whether they should hire a permanent or a contract Technical Author.
At first sight, it may appear that a contractor will cost more than taking someone on as an employee, but that’s not always the case. With a contractor, you’re only paying for the days that person works. You’re not paying for public holidays (8 days), sick pay (the UK average is 5 day’s absence per year), the employee’s holiday (20-25 days), employers’ National Insurance contribution (12%), pension, health insurance, training and career development, plus any other benefits an employee might expect (mobile phone, laptop, company car etc). You’re also not paying an upfront recruitment agency fee for hiring an employee.
The decision between a permanent person and a contractor may be based on reasons other than cost. If you want to build a team or company culture, or have the same staff for a long term, you’re more likely to want to want an employee. If work comes in peaks and troughs, where there may not be enough work in some periods, you’re more likely to want a contractor. You may be able to get a contractor in more quickly than hiring someone on a permanent basis (where there may be a time-consuming recruitment process). Each have their merits.
How do you make the decision between the two options? You can share your thoughts below.
Flickr image: LOLren