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As there are no official statistics recording the number of people employed as Technical Authors in the UK, we have to make some educated guesses to get a sense of the size. Searching LinkedIn might provides some useful information.
In LinkedIn’s advanced search page, if we search the job title field for Technical Author, LinkedIn states there are 5,297 people who match this search. This would include past job titles as well as current job titles. Searching on just current job titles, LinkedIn provides 2,109 results for Technical Author. Searching on just past job titles, LinkedIn provides 2,528 results for Technical Author. It’s not clear why those two figures don’t add up to 5,297.
One of the difficulties is that people use a variety of different job titles. In addition to the 2,109 results for Technical Author, we can add the people who have these current job titles in the UK:
- Technical Writer – 603
- Technical Communicator – 28
- Information Developer – 21
- Documentation Manager – 394
That makes a total of 3,155.There may be other job titles people are using in addition to these, which would increase the numbers further.
There were over 19 million registered LinkedIn users in the United Kingdom, as of the 3rd quarter of 2015 (source), out of a UK working population of 30 million people (source), which means it’s unlikely every Technical Author has a profile on LinkedIn.
It seems reasonable to conclude there are more than 3,200 Technical Authors in the UK, but possibly not more than 5,000.
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
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.
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Please take part in our brief survey, and share your thoughts on hiring technical communicators/Technical Authors.Training and recruitment can be closely related, which is partly why we are conducting two surveys.
Here is the link:
There are eight simple questions, and it should only take a couple of minutes to complete.
By taking part you are helping us to help you by offering the type of recruitment services you really need.
For those who were unable to attend the live event yesterday, here is the link to the recording of our webinar: Recruiting the right Technical Author.
The recording lasts 38 minutes.