Great free training through Lynda.com

If you aren’t familiar with the fantastic online tech training available on Lynda.com, you should definitely check it out. And if you have checked it out, you probably know it can be a bit spendy for a subscription. What I would like everyone in our Puget Sound community to be aware of is that Lynda.com is free if you have a card from the King County Library System.

The way I found out about it was by talking to my local branch librarian when I was researching something. She exposed me to a host of online resources I had not been aware of, even though I am a regular library user.

Through Lynda.com you can get courses on Javascript, CSS, Usability Testing, FrameMaker, etc. A new course just popped up called Learn Camtasia: Advanced Tips and Tricks. I’m going to watch that one this week.

How to Get Lynda

The first thing you need is a free member card from the King County Library. That gets you your unique number and you assign your own pin.

Use the KCLS web site menu. From Online Library, select Courses and Training. From the list of training providers, select Lynda.com. This will take you to the Lynda.com organization portal:

Note: You can go directly to this link. I provided the KCLS steps in case you lose the bookmark.

Enter your library card number and PIN and you’re in. Enjoy all the great content!

When Is Writing Not Enough?

Written by Michael Benavidez

Michael

I’ve participated in a wide variety of technical writing courses, seminars, and presentations as a way to break into the industry. The speakers I’ve heard come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, but one common subject is that of change. Technical writer jobs today are not the same as they were ten or even five years ago. New skills are needed.

One of the technical writing instructors in my certificate program, a man who had worked on projects at companies such as Microsoft and Disney, talked about the importance of adding one or more skills to our writing credentials. He had been a technical writer and editor for many years, but decided to learn programming after realizing his skills alone wouldn’t be enough as the work evolved.

There can be varying skills technical writers need to have in order to perform their job, depending on the industry. Two employers might list very different qualifications for similar positions.

While pursuing my technical writing certificate, I’ve started to learn how to code. I don’t expect to become a programmer any time soon, but I think this skill will help me speak the language and write more accurate documentation.

Unquestionably, becoming familiar with different areas of technical writing is as important as having writing skills.

 

Technical Writing: What’s in a Name?

 

Confused

Written by Michael Benavidez

One interesting challenge I’ve noticed in searching for employment as a Technical Writer is how many different names companies might use for the same position. While I’ve seen plenty of employers list their need for a Technical Writer, I’ve also run into more than a few postings for Content Managers, Associate Editors, Documentation Specialists, and others that serve the same purpose.

The aspiring Technical Writer therefore has an opportunity to familiarize him or herself with several important keywords in order to cast the widest net when looking for jobs in the field. You don’t want to miss out on a great chance because you didn’t know what to look for!

Here are a few common titles I have noticed employers often substitute for Technical Writer:

  • Content Editor/Manager/Writer
  • Technical Editor
  • Documentation Engineer
  • Communication Specialist
  • Web Writer

Any one of these titles can also be combined with the others, depending on the employer’s preference, which may be as varied as their reasons for using such alternative titles in the first place. Some hiring managers may feel “Technical Writer” is too generic and vague for the scope of the position and that one of these other titles better reflects their needs. In other cases, internal budgeting issues can force a manager to get creative if hiring for technical writers becomes problematic. I recall a time at my job where HR was reluctant to approve hiring more Project Managers due to recent restructuring, where many PMs were eliminated. Suddenly the IT Department began hiring “Implementation Specialists” instead!

Whatever an employer’s reasons, the informed Technical Writer only benefits from an awareness of the many names and classifications their profession may come under. Not only will you be more likely to recognize opportunities, you’ll be more likely to tailor yourself to the needs of your audience by speaking their language.

Can you think of some other names used for tech writers? Please share them in the comments.