Any idea what happened in the last few months to spark the technical writing boom we are now experiencing in Israel? Tech-Tav’s phone has been ringing off the hook and I can barely keep up with the proposal requests, training requests and documentation emergencies that have been forcing me to work 15+ hour days for weeks on end. All this craziness is the main reason I haven’t blogged recently (the other reason being that I smashed my hand in a closet, making it really painful to type).
We keep seeing job ads on Techshoret and other lists touting “young” companies looking for “energetic” employees. At worst, it’s ageism. At best, it’s a veiled attempt to let the job seeker know that the salary is going to be low. But I think that by deliberately passing over mature and experienced technical writers, companies are losing out on a potential wealth of knowledge and experience and trading it in for the 1 in a billion chance that they’ll find the next Marc Zuckerberg or Bill Gates.
There’s obviously a bias here towards hiring recent grads or young men and women fresh out of their army service, and for seemingly good reasons. Younger employees tend to be cheaper and have more stamina. You can pile on the work and expect to get a good year or two out of them – before they burn out completely and move on to the next opportunity. But if you are part of a company that values consistency, experience, stick-to-itiveness and long-term success, you would be wise to consider the benefits of hiring a more mature technical writer.
Fifty, sixty, and even seventy-somethings have a lot to offer any employer. Assuming they’ve been working for the better part of their adult lives and have kept up technologically, they bring a depth and breadth of experience to the job that no twenty-something can match. They’ve got experience and/or exposure to project and product management and have seen the whole product cycle from idea conception to market, oftentimes for multiple versions of a product. They’re not going to be absent every other day to take care of sick kids, and they’re not going out on maternity leave or miluim (military reserve duty), either.
I am not by any means suggesting that you should specifically choose a candidate based on age. I am, however, suggesting that there is a bias towards hiring young, fresh-faced employees at the expense of the more mature applicants who bring with them a whole different set of benefits.
Success for any organization means consistency, long-term growth and employee retention, among other things. Ultimately, it is up to the hiring manger to decide if a candidate is the best fit for a job. I would suggest taking a good, hard look at the whole package and not make any assumptions based on age. An older person can be young at heart; a young person can be wise beyond his or her years. Today’s companies would be wise to seek out the best candidates for their positions and not be so quick to jump to conclusions about an individual based solely on age.
Many of Tech-Tav’s most successful and sought-after technical writers are technically senior citizens. I personally value their professionalism, knowledge and experience. Trust me, you won't regret it if you take a chance on a writer who is old enough to be your mother or father.
And while we’re on the subject of longevity in technical writing, I’d like to wish a heartfelt Mazal Tov to Yehoshua Paul on his engagement to the daughter of Jo Levitt, the self proclaimed single sourcing champion. So happy for you and wishing you lots of happiness and success both personally and professionally for many years to come.ShareThis