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Career Development

Improving Your Own Professional Visibility

16th December 2015 Posted in Blog, Career Development 0 Comments

Image for Professional Visibility PostDo you need a boost for your learning and development efforts— well-deserved positive visibility for your achievements? Are you unsure how to go about it in a graceful way that won’t come across as raw ambition or irritating egotism?

In her article, Gaining Visibility Gracefully for Your Professional Efforts, Sue Plaster provides six ways to build on your existing profession reputation and make sure that when credit is given, you get your fair share. She provides insight and examples on how you can promote yourself gracefully and productively to gain professional visibility in your career.

Read Gaining Visibility Gracefully for Your Professional Efforts and then leave a comment here with your thoughts. Have you taken a different approach to improving your professional visibility, or have you been afraid of sounding your own horn?

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Shining a Spotlight on Your Training Team

Image for Spotlight on Your Training Team PostThose in a learning and development capacity play an important role in the success of their organization and they see the results every day. Sometimes a boost of internal or external recognition can add momentum to the team’s efforts, and can provide individuals the inspiration needed to keep achieving.

In her article, Using Recognition to Inspire Your Training Team, Sue Plaster, M.ED. provides a wealth of advice on gaining more recognition for your team’s achievements and contributions as well as those of your team members. She offers factors to be considered for gaining additional recognition and provides insight on exploring award and recognition opportunities through a variety of outlets.

Read Using Recognition to Inspire Your Training Team and then leave a comment here with your thoughts. What steps do you take to inspire your training team and put them in the spotlight? 

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Getting Ahead Through Self Marketing

17th July 2015 Posted in Blog, Career Development, Self Marketing 0 Comments

Image for Getting Ahead through Self Marketing PostThere are many advantages to having a self-marketing and personal branding strategy, first and foremost of which is it can help managers foster greater enthusiasm from their teams and provide the basic framework to help promote a positive self image within an organization.

In her article, The Art of Self-Marketing, Kerri Harris discusses the four keys to planning a personal marketing strategy and how you can apply them for your own advantage:

  1. Personal Branding to Promote the Self-Image
  2. SWOT Analysis or (S)trengths, (W)eaknesses, (O)pportunities, and (T)hreats
  3. The Elevator Speech
  4. Coaching for Development and Results

Read The Art of Self-Marketing and then leave a comment here with your thoughts. Have you developed a self marketing and personal branding strategy? Is there additional advice you’d like to share?

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How to Negotiate Successfully

5th June 2015 Posted in Blog, Career Development 0 Comments

Image for Negotiation PostEveryone of us comes to the point where we negotiate – either in personal, work or business relationships – for our future success. That’s why negotiating techniques are very important in getting what we want or need.

In her article, Negotiation Techniques, Kerri Harris, gives insight into the process of negotiation and provides tips you can use to improve your negotiating skills. She goes into detail with the five basic elements common to various negotiation situations:

  1. Assessing your needs and wants and what you are really after
  2. Knowing the needs and wants for all other parties involved
  3. Staging the discussion
  4. Identifying areas for compromise
  5. Following-up with an action plan

She explains how understanding these elements can help in progressing through the process of successful negotiation.

Read Negotiation Techniques and then leave a comment here with your thoughts. How do you negotiate? Do you have any additional techniques that you use in negotiating an argument or issue?

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Advancing from Writer to Manager

8th May 2015 Posted in Blog, Career Development, Management 0 Comments

Image for Advancing from Writer to Manager PostWhile getting a promotion to move up in the ranks from writer to manager can seem really exciting at first, many writers don’t have prior experience in dealing with subordinates or being responsible for a team. Some writers were never meant to be managers, but they often feel they have to take the position for a spin and show some confidence in their abilities to manage if they want to advance in their career.

In his article, Making the Transition from Technical Writer to Manager, Steve Capri covers a lot of ground on making the transition to management. While the article was originally written for technical writers who become documentation managers, the advice is sound for any writer, and, for that matter, nearly anyone who is being brought into management for the first time. The 10 areas he addresses in the article really could make for an introduction to management training course in many organizations:

  1. Preparing for the transition
  2. Inheriting a staff
  3. Establishing a new staff
  4. Developing your own management style
  5. Realizing your accomplishments in a different way
  6. Learning to delegate
  7. Getting other managers to treat you as a peer
  8. Accepting something less than you can do yourself
  9. Giving the monkeys back
  10. Learning how to evaluate performance

Of course, the article doesn’t cover everything one might encounter while climbing the corporate ladder. But it’s a good start. And, considering that most new managers don’t receive adequate training for performing at their best in their new roles, new managers may just want to keep it on hand to use as a reference.

Read Making the Transition from Technical Writer to Manager and then leave a comment here with your thoughts. What have been your experiences as a new manager? Did you eventually go back to your writing position after deciding you weren’t meant for management? What obstacles did you overcome and what became the key to your eventual success?

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Getting your Documentation Team Seen and Appreciated

Image for Getting your Documentation Team Seen and Appreciated PostAs Tech Writers advance through their career, they are not prepared to market their documentation department, but as their roles grow in the company, they often need to be Tech Comm Marketers to ensure their department survives.

In his article, How to Market a Documentation Department, Robert King discusses how to market a documentation department, providing how-to information that could be helpful to those who find themselves in this position. He provides seven ways to market documentation team services to internal and external customers:

  1. Quality of your goods and services
  2. Stepping out of the box for your customers
  3. Saying yes to your customers
  4. Connecting with your customers
  5. Telling about yourself
  6. Showing Value Added
  7. Your full documentation team

As he adeptly points out, being a Tech Comm Marketer can be very exciting or frustrating, successful or disastrous, but it’s about effort and persistence that will pay off with new opportunities, not only for the Tech Writer, but the entire documentation department.

Read How to Market a Documentation Department and then leave a comment here with your thoughts. Are you doing the same marketing services to your customer?

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September Issue of Intercom All About API Documentation

24th September 2014 Posted in Blog, Career Development, Documentation 0 Comments


The September, 2014 issue of Intercom, a publication of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), is devoted entirely to API documentation.

Experienced technical communicators know that API documentation is among the best paid fields in the industry. And, rightfully so. While most of us who started out in technical writing started with end-user documents, those who have a strong aptitude for programming often end up as API documentation specialists.

While Intercom is available with STC membership, someone has added the September 2014 issue of Intercom to Dropbox so it is available publicly (at least for the time being).

Topics include:

  • What is API Documentation?
  • How Do You Break Into API Documentation?
  • What Factors Contribute to Good API Documentation?
  • How Much Programming Do You Need to Know to Write API Documentation
  • How to Write Helpful Code Samples

If you’ve been thinking about broadening your career path into API documentation, or, if you just want to improve your skills in documenting APIs, you may find the issue to be a valuable resource.

Related topic: Why Developers Write Horrible Documentation

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Convincing the Boss to OK Going to a Conference

15th August 2014 Posted in Blog, Career Development, Events 0 Comments


With summer winding down and the conference season starting to rear its head once again, like the WritersUA East 2014 conference coming up in Ocotober we told you about earlier this week, it’s time to dust off a great, timeless article by Mike Doyle with tips on justifying conference attendance.

The professional and personal networking opportunities (not to mention learning, of course) provided by such conferences can be invaluable. But with competing budget priorities, how can you approach the boss and get approval for yourself or your group to go?

Mike Doyle provides just what you need to give yourself a fighting chance in How To Justify Conference Attendance.

Read the article and then leave a comment here. What other arguments have you made to justify the expense of going to a conference? What benefits have you experienced personally from going to conferences?

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How to Be a Better Negotiator

5th July 2014 Posted in Blog, Career Development 0 Comments


Everyone will need to negotiate at some point in their careers. For most of us, it will happen on a frequent basis. For many, daily.

No matter what you have to negotiate, would you rather have an advantage or lose your lunch in the process? Well, we didn’t think you’d prefer the latter.

In her article, Negotiation Techniques, Kerri Harris analyzes the five steps of the negotiation process and offers tips that can allow you to gain the upper hand the next time you’re faced with a challenging negotiation.

Read: Negotiation Techniques and then leave a comment below with your thoughts. Do you get white knuckle syndrome when you have to negotiate? Do you have additional tips or techniques that have worked for you that you’d like to share? (You can be anonymous so your opponents won’t know what you’ve been up to.) Please leave a comment here with your thoughts.

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Is the Future of Technical Writing in API Docs?

5th June 2014 Posted in Blog, Career Development, Documentation 0 Comments


Over on his I’d Rather Be Writing blog, Tom Johnson recently published a post titled, “The Future of Tech Comm is Developer Doc“. Johnson has a point in that yes, it’s true that the latest mantra is pretty much “If an end user needs documentation, your app/program/whatever is not user friendly.” Okay, we guess. After all, end users aren’t know to even bother looking at documentation – they’d rather go through trial and error, pull their hair out and then get help through tech support or by consulting with another user.

But technical writers who can write developer docs have been in greater demand and have commanded better hourly rates and annual salaries for years. That’s because it’s harder to find experienced technical communicators who are actually comfortable with developer documentation or who have sufficient understanding of programming languages to communicate effectively with a developer audience.

That’s probably why developers are often called upon &emdash; or make the conscious decision &emdash; to write the docs themselves, which is certainly not an ideal situation. Don’t believe me? See Why Developers Write Horrible Documentation.

So does the future for technical communications professionals lie in developer docs? Well, you could probably make an argument that Johnson is a bit biased since he admits most of his work is in the SDK and API areas. You could also make the case that he has a first-hand point of view on the topic. But we think technical communicators who can effectively document APIs to a developer audience have always been in greater demand, so there’s nothing really new. Or is there?

What are your thoughts on the future of technical communications? Is it time for technical writers to grab the bull by the horns and learn how to write developer documentation? Please leave a comment, we’d love to hear your views.

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