RE: Not Sure

Subject: RE: Not Sure
From: Guy McDonald <gmcdonald -at- mcdts -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 2003 09:07:27 -0500

Jeanne Keuma said ...
>>I don't know anyone who would WANT to call themselves "communication
>>generalists"-- it's probably too generic and says nothing about any
>>technical writing/editing experience... Sounds like a PR person... But
>>perhaps some firms use that term for their tech comm folks...

Dick Margulis said ..
>Being a generalist isn't a bad thing, and thinking of oneself as a
generalist does not constitute self-deprecation. A [Generalist] means
knowing enough about a wide variety of things to be effective in novel

This is odd ... I disagree with Dick Margulis! Although Dick's closing
statement about a "generalist" not being a good fit for every application is
a no-brainer. (applicant has never been exposed to the basic concepts
involved in writing software user manuals, maybe she's a bit _too_ much of a

Tamara Reyes-Muralles's original post on this thread led me to believe she
desires a strong technical communicator. The last thing I think she would
need is a "generalist" who knows a lot about everything but little about one
thing. I see many "generalists" marketing themselves as "Information
Specialists", "Knowledge Managers", and "Communication Developers", and
plenty entrenched in companies. Sadly, these "generalists" are walking
examples of the Peter Principal and masters of office politics. They give
the rest of us, who stay current with technologies and methodologies, bad
names. "Generalists" suck revenue from naive companies that for whatever
reason, will not hire the best candidate suited for the task. Alternatively,
there are many competent communicators in the Techcomm field who hold such
titles so please hold back the flames!

Tamara might desire someone who can demonstrate the ability to:

1. Communicate complex technical concepts to a broad audience. Ask for
samples and for the candidate to speak about several past projects.
2. Capture and synthesize subject matter gathered from experts into usable
information. Ask the candidate to give examples of how/where this was done
in their past.
3. Explain how gathered information is valuable to a company and outline
several applications on where a company can benefit from his/her service.
4. Describe cradle-to-grave scenarios for online help and hardcopy life
cycles. This query weeds "generalists" out of the candidate pool ... unless
the interviewer is a "generalist" who is easily snookered!
5. Etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum.

Come to think of it, I probably do not disagree with Dick *if* he was
talking about a "generalist" as someone with a substantial amount of
experience. A substitute for experience is the one thing that God did not
create. As for individuals who are "generalists", entrenched in companies,
producing little ... fire 'em all.

Guy McDonald (received no call from the CIA to document the next big
secret - but still hopeful)


Re: Not Sure: From: Dick Margulis

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