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Going Beyond Technical Writing: Practical Advice for Diversifying Your Skillset -- Podcast Interview with Mark Hanigan

by Tom Johnson on Jan 29, 2008
categories: podcasts

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In this podcast, I talk with Mark Hanigan, former international STC president, about ways to go beyond technical writing. I knew Mark at the STC-Suncoast chapter in Florida and often, during "post-meeting-meetings," listened to him talk about ways to transition from technical writing into tasks that companies perceive as having higher value, such as business analysis and project management.

Mark strongly believes that technical writers often sell themselves short. Given our skill set, our attention to detail, and our comprehensive understanding of the applications we document, we become de facto SMEs who can deliver more than just a software manual. We can create business requirements, contribute UML diagrams representing workflows and processes, create computer-based training, influence business methodologies, implement content management strategies, present training and e-learning courses to users, help meet regulatory standards, and more.

In many companies, writers who stick with writing-only tasks quickly become outdated, as IT departments begin to perceive documentation as a commodity that can be outsourced. Mark talks about ways to diversify your skillset, wear many hats, and bring more value to the company.

He also talks about the essential quality that technical writers must have today: an ability to embrace change, to adapt and learn new technologies. This is, he explains, one reason for his abiding involvement in the STC: instantaneous access to colleagues who share information about the latest tools and technologies they're using.

About Mark

Mark, an STC fellow and former international STC president, is a frequent presenter at conferences, including the STC Conference. He is currently a member of the Suncoast and Orlando chapters in Florida. To contact Mark, send him an e-mail at [email protected].

Special Announcement from STC-Atlanta

The Society for Technical Communication (STC), Atlanta Chapter is pleased to announce the Currents 2008 conference on March 14-15, 2008 at Southern Polytechnic State University, Marietta, Georgia campus.

Currents provides a great opportunity for technical communicators to expand their professional skills and to network with peers. The conference is open to any technical communication professional regardless of skill level or position. We also invite other professionals who are interested in the technical communication field. Join us to expand your skills, network with other professionals, and have fun with friends.

Learn more about the Currents Conference.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the tech comm, be sure to subscribe to email updates below. You can also learn more about me or contact me. Finally, note that the opinions I express on my blog are my own points of view, not that of my employer.