By Richard Ries
Thomas Wolfe tells us that we can never go home again—but who listens to him? After meandering in the wilderness of company meeting rooms, malls, and civic centers, the STC may have found its home. Following the informative but noisy and non-private February meeting at the Microsoft store in the Florida Mall, the Orlando Central Florida STC Chapter had the pleasure—thanks to the orchestrations of chapter Vice President, Debra Johnson—to meet in a comfortable, commodious, and private room at the Wyndham Vacation Ownership Corporate Offices.
Participants first enjoyed a beautiful spread of sandwiches and wraps, salad, chips, drinks, coffee, and, of course, cookies. And if the cookies couldn’t satisfy a sweet tooth, one of our guest panelists, Penny Robinson, provided a special sweet treat: gift bags filled with chocolate favorites.
Attendance was strong, with over 20 members, students, guests, and three newcomers who came hoping to focus their attention on what the President of the United States emphasized in his February State of the Union address: jobs.
Karen Lane, our commander-in-chief, opened the meeting, then handed the floor over to Debra Johnson, who introduced our guest panel of three: Jenna Zucali and Keiko Berg from TEKsystems, and Penny Robinson from Signature Consultants—all friendly rivals. The conversations were informative and spirited.
The three recruiters candidly fielded cogent questions about the job market for technical communicators, interviewing for contract jobs vs. contract-to-hire jobs, and résumés. They discussed the job climate, the art of making matches between employers and job seekers, as well as the importance of building relationships and networking.
All three were in basic agreement about the following points:
- Have multiple versions of your résumé on hand, and have them carefully proofed
- Follow-up interviews with thank-you notes, electronic first for speed, then handwritten for that personal touch
- Research what skill sets employers are looking for
- Learn what technology tools are current
- Exercise extreme caution in what you post on Facebook
- Use LinkedIn to your advantage as a networking and relationship-building tool
- Expand your network on LinkedIn, and watch a YouTube video on using LinkedIn if you feel rusty on the social media
- Understand that the traditional “technical writer” may wear many hats and go by different names nowadays, such as documentation specialist, content developer, information architect, business analyst, or web designer
- When you prepare for an interview, make sure to research the company beforehand; have your questions ready when the interviewer asks you for them. Hiring managers do not want to hear that you are not prepared to ask questions.
Overall, it was an important and fun evening of information, friendship, and networking.
Look for announcements for our next meeting on our website www.stc-orlando.org. The month of April will feature a video conference with expert Sarah O’Keefe on content strategy. Scheduled for Thursday, April 18, 6:30pm … same STC channel… same STC venue. Don’t touch that dial.