Over experience and other dilemmas

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

72 months ago

I am a professional senior technical writer with over 28 years of solid, in-company experience across four industries. I honestly have a wonderful record of experience, a solid work record, and have mentored others. To make it even better, I have operated my own business in website and graphic design and managed a graphic design department for a major ministry for over three years. I have experience in most of the industry softwares and know hoe to work with printing companies to get results. Some other factors are that I am 58 years old, desire to live in a lower population region, away from really big cities in the Tennessee. I have applied at some fairly major-sized companies, none of which are high-paying, and even expressed that I do not ask for more than they are willing to offer for their position.

My question is: Why can't I seem to land a position (job) with the companies to which I apply? I have been to a couple interviews, but do not get the job. I always landed the job when I got an interview in the past. Maybe someone can give me the scoop and some advice.

I am sick and tired of being out of work. I would be an asset to a company. Most companies have this back hole process of sending resumes on-line only and I never hear back from them.

Thanks, Michael Aprile

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AMRAM in Middletown, New Jersey

71 months ago

Michael,

1. Don't list gigs on your resume older than ~10 years.
2. Color your hair (professionally!) and stay thin.

That's what I do and I'm 60 years old.

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Techone in Portland, Oregon

70 months ago

Dummy the resume. Only showcase what applies to the specific company. Take out your own business part and any management jobs. Go back only 5-7 years. Take out the masters degree. Don't expect so much from the lower populated regions.

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TechWriter in Carrollton, Texas

70 months ago

I am pretty much in the same boat. Consequently, I am avidly looking for another way to use my writing skills and knowledge outside of the usual company environment. I really want to work from home in a freelance fashion. I plan to work until I drop (I am in excellent health, so that is not an immediate concern) and I don't want my career decided by someone half my age and with one-third my knowledge and experience. I would suggest reworking your resume to only include your last 10 years or so of experience (if you've worked two jobs of seven or eight years, that may be hard to do) and try to get it into the hiring manager's hands. That usually means getting a mutual friend to deliver it for you. Get on LINKEDIN.COM and try to find a friend that works where you want to work. I really don't think the best jobs are advertised. It is so hard to get rid of bad employees these days, employers are almost paralyzed when it comes to hiring someone new. Consequently, contracting is a good way to get your foot in the door. I have had several contract jobs that I arrive one day and three days later they are asking me to become an employee. I don't think there is really a magic formula. Sometime's you just have to be in the right place at the right time, and network, network, network. It's not what you know, it's usually who you know.

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

70 months ago

Just wanted to say thank you, technical writer in Carrollton, Texas. I heartily agree with all said, and truly believe it was very valuable advice. I can tell that you have been around and appreciate you.

Without meaning to sound proud, or like a know it all (I do not), I have done all the things that you advised--already. One point, though, is that cutting back to ten years on my resume, in my slim opinion, does not negate that my BA in English was earned in 1977 along with other normal resume items that give away my age. I don't think I am fooling anyone. And, who wants to show up at an interview knowing the truth will find them out? I think that we very experienced Senior Technical Writers are simply stigmatized by a hiring force that has no appreciation for what we have to offer. They have taken control of the job market and don't believe that we matter at all. Their advice, if it weren't politically and legally incorrect, would be for us to just go play golf the rest of our life and leave these jobs we're applying for to the young and the restless. There has to be a better way and I believe somewhere up in the corner of our collective creative mind we can discover it.

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TechWriter in Carrollton, Texas

70 months ago

I felt the same way about the 10-year deal on my resume. I am not out to fool anyone either. When you step into the HR person's office, the charade would be over anyway. However, my contract recently ended because the group I was working with ceased to exist. Some of the employees who were terminated were given free training in resume revision, interviewing techniques, and that sort of thing. They were told that few employers care what you were doing more than 10 years ago. So I updated my resume to only mention the jobs that were about technical writing. I started out as a computer programmer. I have no intention of ever doing that again anyway. (Plus, the computer-type jobs no longer show up on my suggested jobs emails from various job posting websites.) If you used an important skill in an older job, and you still feel proficient in that area, list it with your other skills. There is also something called a Functional Resume, which deals more with your skills than the places you have worked. See helpmefindajob4free.blogspot.com/ for all my thoughts about job hunting. It's my blog in progress (I'm not selling anything except maybe myself).

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

70 months ago

Thanks for your apt reply. I know that I will check out your blog. It should be some good information and useful to writers at large. One thing we should do is stick together.

I recently opened visited my account at LinkedIn and began a group called "Tri-City Tennessee Companies That Hire Writers", which I opened up for both hiring professionals in local area companies and writers in the same area, to try to encourage a meeting ground for the same. Often companies with writer positions in a distinct area do not know that their are writers and the opposite. They both miss each other through reliance on recruiters. Maybe such discussion groups would work in areas across the United States. What do you think.

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JWoolington in Los Angeles, California

69 months ago

Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee said: Thanks for your apt reply. I know that I will check out your blog. It should be some good information and useful to writers at large. One thing we should do is stick together.

I recently opened visited my account at LinkedIn and began a group called "Tri-City Tennessee Companies That Hire Writers", which I opened up for both hiring professionals in local area companies and writers in the same area, to try to encourage a meeting ground for the same. Often companies with writer positions in a distinct area do not know that their are writers and the opposite. They both miss each other through reliance on recruiters. Maybe such discussion groups would work in areas across the United States. What do you think.

Michael,
I think this is a great idea. In effect, it creates a virtual, specialized search firm with no fees. Should appeal to employers who hate paying the premium that recruiters charge and the writers get to pitch themselves more directly without the middleman.

I'm in a similar situation to you in that I am 61 with many years of solid experience. I'm finding that most people think they can save money or get a more energetic young person who can be trained fresh. They are completely unaware that an experienced person can save the company from making expensive mistakes that more than make up for the other factors. Maybe they are also scared to death of having to fire an older person and suffer the age discrimination issues. Lawyers!

My wife gets excellent benefits at her job so I am fortunate that I can focus strictly on contract work (I shun the word freelance because it sounds less professional and less committed). I am trying to find a niche that I can take advantage of and am going to look into your group idea further.

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

69 months ago

Thank you for your reply. That is what I mean by "stick together". I can see that the advantages of a system such as this group can be valuable for a long-needed return to potential, hardworking employees meeting directly with employers.

I sincerely hope that you will actually look into this idea further. I am not certain how it would all work, but it might be possible to create hubs groups all over the US where potential employees/employers could dialog with each other this way. That way, the hiring managers of companies in local areas could essentially begin a courtship with available professionals, allowing them to get to know them better (and discover how they might serve them, if the need arises).

My son and I actually have a 10-year-old website development company out of our home. I could help with the design and interface of such a venture, so I invite functional ideas of how to get this going. Who knows, it might catch on (especially if being in the group costs you nothing).

Keep in touch,
Michael

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Jane Dudgeon in Ashburn, Virginia

69 months ago

Hello folks. I am in the same situation as you. I'm 53 years old. Professionally color hair with foil highlights so the white line going down from regrowth does not show. I also recently lost over 30 pounds. For the past 10 years I have specialized and mastered using Help Authoring Tools (HATs) to build online Help systems using MadCap Flare and RoboHelp HTML.

I've been actively looking for a job since October where I can continue to use these skills in MadCap Flare and RoboHelp HTML. I have used just about every job board that it out there. I'm in LinkedIn and I'm not having much luck with that. And honestly, I do not know how to use LinkedIn.

Having been looking since October, I have felt so bloody helpless and frustrated. I know I'm doing all the right things, How come I'm not getting and finding a good job. Is the job market for technical writers that bad out there.

If you hear of any jobs that call for MadCap Flare and or RoboHelp HTML, please contact me at the email address janiemd@verizon.net

I hope someone can offer some suggestions or help me out. I'm going crazy putting all this time and effort into finding a job and getting no where. Since the October layoff, I've had only one interview.

Thanks,
Jane

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Allan in Allentown, New Jersey

68 months ago

My two cents:

the best way to get into a company is not by approaching the company directly. Too many companies use "headhunters" "temp agencies" "middlemen" whatever you want to call it. The company I currently work for hired me after I consulted for a year. I only got in the door because the middle man got me in. Prior to meeting the middle man, I had sent my resume to this company several times and my resume probably ended up in the cylindrical file (garbage can). That is because this company, when it has a need for a tech writer, it fills out a requisition. The requisition goes out to the "headhunters". The headhunters seek out people like us (that's why you often get an email from several "headhunters" all describing the same job.)
Essentially, you guys would have to know the hiring process for each company over there in Tennessee.

My other advice: Don't limit yourself to calling yourself a 'technical writer.' Expand your exposure by calling yourself a 'business analyst' as well. As a tech writer, you perform business analysis all the time. We tech writers are often generalists, good at many things and have had exposure to many industries. Promote yourself appropriately! good luck!

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

68 months ago

Thank you, Allan. Your advice seems very sound. I especially relate to the part about being a "generalist, good at many things and have exposure to many industries." That fits me very well.

I can also relate to the "business analyst", because I can recall, working in large firms, being asked to join the team to work out a new project plan (sort of an advisor) with managers, programmers, engineers, and technicians. You get pretty smart, while you are in and among a company environment.

On another note, many people have suggested, to this older guy, that I die my hair (makes me laugh) and reduce my resume to the last ten years of experience. Being one of those "tech writers" who do "many things," my son and I went off with our own website and graphic arts company for the last ten years. If I reduced my resume to the last ten years, the hiring party would see none of the technical writing positions I held for over thirty years. And, additionally, When they looked at my two English degrees from 1977, what would they think. It doesn't seem like that would work -- not fooling anyone -- especially when I went in for the interview.

I even reworked my resume to show only writing positions (of ten years back). This leaves gaps and makes it look like I haven't worked for the last ten plus years. Maybe someone out there has some suggestions for me that will help others who have the same scenario.

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Karen in Poway, California

68 months ago

The functional resume effectively handles gaps. Look for help on Monster.com and other sites like that.

Further to your comment about year of degree: it is unlawful for them to ask due to age discrimination. If the field is there on the electronic application form, it must be made optional.

Finally, network! Order business cards and talk to EVERYBODY. Develop a "self-commercial" that you can rattle off in 20-30 seconds. A good 70% of jobs are in the "hidden market." Network like crazy - it works!

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

68 months ago

Thanks Karen. Now that's getting down to the real "kitty gritty", as they say. I need to look again at the functional resume. Someone wrote about this before. Interesting about leaving off the degree. Makes you wonder why people think they are so important, if you can't display them (I had a 4.0 with honors) -- no good, huh? Network to whom, where, when, how? Everyone has gone electronic form -- yet it has always been who you know and still is.

Karen in Poway, California said: The functional resume effectively handles gaps. Look for help on Monster.com and other sites like that.

Further to your comment about year of degree: it is unlawful for them to ask due to age discrimination. If the field is there on the electronic application form, it must be made optional.

Finally, network! Order business cards and talk to EVERYBODY. Develop a "self-commercial" that you can rattle off in 20-30 seconds. A good 70% of jobs are in the "hidden market." Network like crazy - it works!

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

68 months ago

Thanks Allan. Once again you have made some very strong points. Looking back through the hodge podge of replies I have received on this issue, it has become apparent to me that the hiring aspect of industry today in very fickle. I learned while in four different industries that people are usually placed in the position of hiring and consider it second priority to their actual position. These people do not usually have a clue how to interview or hire and are almost never able to look at the content of a resume and adequately see potential in anyone. The primary reason that they like less information is they are so young that they know little more than quick sound bytes and have very short attention spans. Read a novel -- no thanks -- show me the movie, they say. Who would want to work for someone like that?

Concerning the hair thing, I will never fall under the facade of that game. It is hard for me to understand what this world is coming to. I suppose that is why I find it difficult to get hired today. I have a hope that is beyond what is the usual and will be working soon.

Keep writing,
Michael

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

68 months ago

Thanks James. This is some good advice for some who may be interested in becoming a technical writer. Admittedly, you are correct that the face and duties of the technical writer have changed quite a bit over the years.

I remember when technical writers were called analysts. This was partly due to the fact that, before then, engineers and programmers wrote all the technical and user-interface documents. This was also when people who tried to put together a toy for their child at Christmas and were confused that the instructions were less than understandable. Eventually, companies saw the light and then technical writers were more in demand. It is simple to be a technical writer on the user end now, since public education, even through college grade levels, has been dumbed down and very few people know how to read above a six-grade level. The newspapers are evidence of this fact.

The lack of hiring true technical writers gave rise to a whole new job force of training instructors in industries. If hiring managers only had a clue, they would realize the urgent and ever-present need of experienced (beyond-last-ten-year) writers in their companies. Instead they just let "progress" become another byword that means nothing at all. A real technical writer is an asset to a company.

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

68 months ago

Thanks James. Just for the sake of keeping the conversation going, I want to make two comments and then ask a question. The reason that "the experience listed on a resume [such as yours] does not make a difference" is due to the lack of experience in the one hiring. The same goes for those hiring technical writers who think they are word processors. The second point is an analogy: saying as well-trained technical writer has outgrown his or her field is like saying a member of the royal ballet has outgrown the art.

Now the question please. When you said "move on to something else", what did you have in mind, if anything? Thanks.

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AMRAM in Red Bank, New Jersey

68 months ago

Linkedin?! Does anyone know anyone who actually got a gig thru Linkedin? I was working it assiduously for at least three months in every way imaginable. Never even a nibble. I'm beginning to conclude that it is a waste of time at best and a scam at worst.

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AMRAM in Red Bank, New Jersey

68 months ago

Transmogrifying ourselves into "Business Analysts" seems like a great idea. The problem in this market is the old Catch22. How one transmutes one's resume experience to present one's self as a BA likely requires the aid of an objective professional -- perhaps one who has worked as a BA and can also write. Any ideas?

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

68 months ago

AMRAM,I have been running on Linkedin for quite awhile and have used it well for other purposes, but for getting jobs, I am not certain that it happens except in the event where you live in very close proximity to a company whereat someone on your list operates. Is there even an avenue for hiring on Linkedin (not sure)?

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

68 months ago

"Business Analyst" is sort of an ambiguous term for several different types of positions, some not even related to technical writer. As it happens, you might redesign your resume to define a business analyst and find that a company needs a technical writer. Some hiring personnel may not understand the term. Different industries, and even different companies, handle terms differently. Did not mean to be negative here.

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

67 months ago

Thank you Melissa. This is a very helpful answer to AMRAM's query about jobs through Linkedin. Great information and ideas. The only thing I thought about was that some regions will be stronger than others and those who live in less populated areas might find the availability of positions slimmer, in that most companies seem to want local applicants only.

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Gregg57 in Charles Town, West Virginia

67 months ago

I currently work for one of the "Beltway Bandits" as a "documentation specialist," though my resume and degree say "Technical Writer." The call came out of the blue after several months out of work as an airline technical writer.
I had no interview except a phone call about the job and whether I wanted it. Obviously, I said "Yes."

So what do I do all day? I attend a few meetings a week and write up the Minutes. After a year and a half, I finally got access to the software that I'm supposed to be supporting and wrote the User's Guide in two weeks. It just sits on the drive where I was told to park it.

I'm a formatter with a fancy title. I suppose I can live with that, as it pays the bills. It offends me in a way, as I've been in the workforce since the mid-70's. I know I'm better than this, but I see nowhere to go. If not for this job, I woul dbe like the other middle-aged folks on this thread.

I have no idea what to think of the job market anymore. My old industry (airlines) is virtually dead. I just hope I can make it to retirement before I get dumped out on the street again.

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

67 months ago

Thanks Gregg for that great look at your situation. I agree with you keen accessment and your frustration. If I ever find another Tech Writer position, no matter how menial, I will be very agreeable - a model employee. They are too difficult to come by. If I could just pay the bills. I have learned to live on so little that money is no longer the biggest object. I have cut my needed pay scale by over $40,000. You are correct - it is very sad.

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Gregg57 in Charles Town, West Virginia

66 months ago

Hi James,

The problem for many of us is, "Where do you go and how do you get hired? And doing what?"

I worked in the customer service, ground operations and instructing trenches for an airline for over 20 years. After career-ending injury, I went to college for tech writing and got a BS degree. My next two airline employers fell out from under me into Chapter 7 in the five years after I graduated. Now, I'm doing this IT job for a "Beltway Bandit."

I don't have a Master's and I expect to be paying off school loans until I die. I'm pretty disgusted and wondering what I can do next. It's already hard to find a job (early 50's) and see no reason to expect that it won't get harder as I age further.

I have no clearance ("Public Trust" is useless for job searching, but what I have), so a large chunk of the DC tech writing jobs available are automatically eliminated. (I apply anyway, but never get an answer. I'm sure I'm perfectly clearable Hell, I had aircraft ramp access at O'Hare, Dulles and several other airports. The FAA has already done background checks on me), but they'd rather hire young, ex-military folks what are already cleared.)

I'd like to see the current Administration address hiring in the US vs. the "Graying of America." There are a lot of perfectly good people out here with lots of education and experience who are either unemployed or under-employed. What a resource to waste! Can we, as a country, afford this?

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

66 months ago

I really like it Gregg... "The Graying of America." I think we should all submit articles on this problem to magazines across the US. I believe this might get exposure to this dilemma. We can do it... we all handle well the power of the pen. I plan to get started on that. Thanks for the post.

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Gregg57 in Charles Town, West Virginia

66 months ago

Not original, I'm afraid. I picked that up somewhere, maybe from an article. Still, it's a valid point. Why is it that older Americans (no matter their race, gender or education) are near the bottom of the heap for employers?

Do employers want young, cheap and exploitable labor?

Does our experience, achievements and knowledge count for so little these days? Personally,I think I'd hire a 50-year old that just obtained a college degree over a teen with no experience and the same degree, but that's just me, I guess.

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

66 months ago

Gregg57 in Charles Town, West Virginia said: Why is it that older Americans (no matter their race, gender or education) are near the bottom of the heap for employers?

Do employers want young, cheap and exploitable labor?

Does our experience, achievements and knowledge count for so little these days? Personally,I think I'd hire a 50-year old that just obtained a college degree over a teen with no experience and the same degree, but that's just me, I guess.

I am not usually an activist, unless something gets riled up. I could get (no, I am) riled up about this cause. I am definite going to write several articles about "the graying." I do really think we could make a difference for all those in our position. As experienced writers, able to communicate well, we could make a convincing case for hiring us over those whom "they" have been convinced are the right ones. Anyone out there with me on this?

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James Barakaat in Chicago, Illinois

66 months ago

Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee said: I am not usually an activist, unless something gets riled up. I could get (no, I am) riled up about this cause. I am definite going to write several articles about "the graying." I do really think we could make a difference for all those in our position. As experienced writers, able to communicate well, we could make a convincing case for hiring us over those whom "they" have been convinced are the right ones. Anyone out there with me on this?

Michael: I think you will find that those that do the hiring are young folks that may not be comfortable with older people. I also believe that it has been known for a long time that the baby boomers are those born between 1946 and 1960. This means that the oldest baby boomers are at least 62 years old and the youngest are at least 48 years old. Thus, the graying of America may not be something new.

James

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James Barakaat in Chicago, Illinois

66 months ago

Gregg57 in Charles Town, West Virginia said: Not original, I'm afraid. I picked that up somewhere, maybe from an article. Still, it's a valid point. Why is it that older Americans (no matter their race, gender or education) are near the bottom of the heap for employers?

Do employers want young, cheap and exploitable labor?

Does our experience, achievements and knowledge count for so little these days? Personally,I think I'd hire a 50-year old that just obtained a college degree over a teen with no experience and the same degree, but that's just me, I guess.

Gregg57: I believe that you find that older people who hire will hire older people. However, the job of hiring is mostly left to younger folks who may not be comfortable with older people.

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

66 months ago

That's a good point, James. So, what if the articles are directed to these young hiring people. What if we can help them to understand the mistake of not hiring the graying - even on their business? What if we can bring them to sympathize with this tragic analysis of "the graying?" The thing with me is that I have noticed the major thing that is wrong with our whole society is that they don't know. Ignorance, in effect, is the most dangerous form of terrorism. I don't feel right about allowing them to continue in ignorance on, not just this but, many subjects.

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Xochi in Harrison City, Pennsylvania

66 months ago

Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee said: I am a professional senior technical writer with over 28 years of solid, in-company experience across four industries. I honestly have a wonderful record of experience, a solid work record, and have mentored others. To make it even better, I have operated my own business in website and graphic design and managed a graphic design department for a major ministry for over three years. I have experience in most of the industry softwares and know hoe to work with printing companies to get results. Some other factors are that I am 58 years old, desire to live in a lower population region, away from really big cities in the Tennessee. I have applied at some fairly major-sized companies, none of which are high-paying, and even expressed that I do not ask for more than they are willing to offer for their position.

My question is: Why can't I seem to land a position (job) with the companies to which I apply? I have been to a couple interviews, but do not get the job. I always landed the job when I got an interview in the past. Maybe someone can give me the scoop and some advice.

I am sick and tired of being out of work. I would be an asset to a company. Most companies have this back hole process of sending resumes on-line only and I never hear back from them.

Thanks, Michael Aprile

The company I work for is hiring for a tech writer intern. It is, as you have mentioned, an online application and they are often slow to fill the requisitions for open positions. However, this company is very solid and doubling our capacity over the next two years. We make nuclear fuels. You are welcome to email me if you are still interested, or still checking this discussion forum. I'm currently a secretary looking to further my education and thought tech writing would be a good fit for me. Now I wonder about the potential job market after reading your posts here. Anyway, feel free to contact me at vienne0123@yahoo

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DallasT in Cary, North Carolina

66 months ago

I've been in high-tech technical writing since 1989. I've worked for companies like DEC, Nortel, Lucent, IBM and several startup companies. I worked hard, was trained well, had great opportunities to learn new skills and was well compensated. Then I moved from Boston to Raleigh, NC. I haven't see a permenant job since I moved here.
It's all contract and the pay is sub-standard. The concerning thing is that most of the interviews never look at my portfolio, I seem to be tested more on personality or trying to figure out my age. I recently was offered a job at 9PM at night and expected to show up at 9AM the next morning. The contracting company is Indian and so it the hiring company. I got one offer through email before they called and realized that I was a woman and the compensation suddenly lowered by 6 dollars an hour.

I got to work and found that the only other people there were two men that were hired one day before me and one day after me. They disclosed their salaries to me and I took it up with the contractor. Which lied to me because I heard from my manager (off-site) that they were paying more than admitted. I fussed for a couple weeks and was told contracting companies are immune from the Federal and State equal pay acts. You must sue them to even get paid.

I dropped my complaint, trained the two men I worked with on the tools and how to use them, produced more work than them but was ostrasized by both my manager and the consulting agency when I would ask a job related question.

They hired a new woman to work with us this week and she came in the door complaining of her pay and the rudeness of the negotiations. Within a day I was accused of influencing her and pursuing a law suit (which I wasn't). then yesterday I was pulled into a room by the IT guy and a peer and told that I was stirring up trouble with the new girl and with the property mgmt team. Through F**k and other terms they tore me a new one. I quit although I have no other job to go.

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Alizzabeth SaintJohn in Newark, Delaware

65 months ago

Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee said: I am a professional senior technical writer with over 28 years of solid, in-company experience across four industries. I honestly have a wonderful record of experience, a solid work record, and have mentored others. To make it even better, I have operated my own business in website and graphic design and managed a graphic design department for a major ministry for over three years. I have experience in most of the industry softwares and know hoe to work with printing companies to get results. Some other factors are that I am 58 years old, desire to live in a lower population region, away from really big cities in the Tennessee. I have applied at some fairly major-sized companies, none of which are high-paying, and even expressed that I do not ask for more than they are willing to offer for their position.

My question is: Why can't I seem to land a position (job) with the companies to which I apply? I have been to a couple interviews, but do not get the job. I always landed the job when I got an interview in the past. Maybe someone can give me the scoop and some advice.

I am sick and tired of being out of work. I would be an asset to a company. Most companies have this back hole process of sending resumes on-line only and I never hear back from them.

Thanks, Michael Aprile

Michael,

You are not alone as a qualified, seasoned and professional technical writer. From your description, you have much of the same qualities that I too would express and other peer writers. Instead of telling you my experiences as I see other commenters have, I'd like to give you my take on what is happening in the job market today.I will need to answer in a few comment spaces:

First, The economy is both real and not real. I have seen companies that were strong financially before 9/15 layoff their consultants and. their employees just to maintain strong industry financial reports to stockholders.(investopedia.com

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Alizzabeth SaintJohn in Newark, Delaware

65 months ago

Second, have you noticed so many new consultant companies that have been created in the past six months? I have been researching where the companies are getting the requisitions so that I can bid on these jobs as a small company myself. Many of these companies get paid just to find and submit resumes to the main company who has the contract to fill the companies' requisition. So this goes back to some other comment that we shoudl get together and get these contracts like the headhunters. Or make certain you are a S Corp or LLC so that you can be in a good position to bid on the requisitions.

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

65 months ago

Thank you Alizzabeth. By the way, you have both a beautiful and an unusual name. I have a daughter named Elizabeth.

My layoff was back in 2001. I made the decision to leave the then crazy industry job for a business of my own doing graphic design and website design and development. This was never real successful, but paid some bills over time. Feast and famine.

I want to get back into industry, as a Technical Writer, but I can't seem to make any headway. I would not mind getting together, as you suggest. Can you tell this forum what the mechanics of such a union are? Thanks. What are your ideas and do you have a plan to get back to work?

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

65 months ago

Hey gang! I just came across a good article titled "I'm Overqualified" that would be good for you to see. Find it by planting career-advice.monster.com/resumes-cover-letters/resume-writing-tips/resume-dilemma-im-overqualified/article.aspx in your browser.

I plan to take the advice given therein, along with, of course, the great advice you all have provided in this forum. Keep writing!

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amelia in Austin, Texas

65 months ago

I've browsed through most of the posts. Michael, you have to realize that companies are not looking for someone with your experience. I'm sorry to say that, but it's true. Companies see someone with your credentials and think you're going to want a large salary. Also, age discrimination is everywhere. Anyone over 40 has a problem. Some recommendations that people gave you are true, although you seemed to scoff at them. You do need to make yourself look younger. This might include the need to dye your hair.

You should try to write a resume that doesn't tell your age. Don't include the dates of your degrees. A chronological resume for you is very hard to do. You probably need a functional or combination resume. I suggest you hire a very good professional resume writer. That person can design something that will get your foot in the door. After that, you have to sell yourself. Managers look for someone who is not only qualified, but who will "fit in" with their department and maybe other departments. In high tech, that means young. So, you have to sell yourself as being hip enough to work at such a place. This will come across in your appearance, talk, and attitude. In addition to dying your hair, get some younger looking clothes and join some clubs or organizations with younger people.

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Gregg57 in Charles Town, West Virginia

65 months ago

I think Amelia has a good point. I've run into what I consider age-related discrimination more tha once. Unfortunately, the hurdles to prove it are so high that they effectively prevent you from doing anything about it. I am a very young-looking 51. If I dyed my hair, I could pass for my late 30's or early 40's. I still hit discrimination, though. I currently have a short crew cut that helps hide the gray in my hair. I am also giving a lot of thought to coloring my hair when it grows back out, not for my own vanity, but to get my foot in the door at jobs.

One resume problem I have is that my first job lasted 21 years (airline supervisor). How can I 'hide' this on my resume without being too deceptive? I want to be able to meet the minimum experience requirements in postings.

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Alizzabeth SaintJohn in Newark, Delaware

65 months ago

Amelia, those are very good suggestions. They are, indeed, what I implement in my search as well as recommend to peers (both professional and age) who are experiencing the same dilemmas. The most important thing is to keep the resume to ten years so as not to show your age. If you have experience past those years, you can make the last job listing a "Previous Technical Writing Positions" or "Previous Consulting..." You don't have to post the years. This seems to work where previous experience is relevant to point out for the potential opportunity. (Send JobCampaign@live.com an email requesting a free review of your resume. They have been doing hybrid resumes successfully for more than ten years. I went to them several years ago with immediate offers after they rewrote my resume. They are affordable as well.)

Once the resume is changed, and you get an interview, energy is important to convey. No one will be interested in someone who comes in with a lack lustre presentation.

By the way, have a portfolio of your work. Better yet, carry a CD with examples. Best is a website or page with links to your portfolio examples. The website portfolio, with tasteful animation, can have a PowerPoint show presenting not only your work, but your personality.

The only comment that struck me odd was the suggestion to join clubs with younger people. I think the main gist is to join and network in professional organizations, period. Age is not the determining factor. Sharing professional ideas, making connections with people who may refer you to opportunities is your main concern. If you are there to act "hip" you won't come across as authentic.

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

65 months ago

Amelia...thanks very much for being king and caring about me. Your advice is very good and has been expressed here, as you have seen.

Just to explain. I am not ashamed of being 59 as of July 2, 2009. I am thankful to be alive. It is just that I have nothing to be ashamed of that is my point about it all. Just ask my several past employers, over the last 30+ years, and they will all tell you I have been the model employee and more than a 100% contributor to those companies.

Neither am I ashamed of how I look, what color my hair is, or the skill I have, especially in the field of technical writing. I have learned, over the past ten years, to live on practically nothing, supporting family of eight with my own business. And, by the way, none of my clients over the last ten years has balked at my only slightly distinguished look.

My major point in this forum has been that we older people are not the problem, but rather the generation that is now hiring. You can update technology to the times, but not people. This is out-and-out flat discrimination under the law and a federal crime they are committing -- punishable by fin and imprisonment.

I just don't believe it is correct to just sit back and say, oh well, they got the ball, so let just play their game. It is more important that we fight for what is right in every way we can. After all, that lay-back-and-take-it attitude is how we have lost our country to Socialism today.

We are professional writer, and I believe we should stand up with some guts and express our discomfort, if we have any, with what is happening. We should ALL be writing the editors across this nation. How about it friends and cohorts?

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Alizzabeth SaintJohn in Newark, Delaware

65 months ago

Michael, Michael, Michael:

I do not know where to start. But suffice it to say that I agree with you on many parts and admire how you commented with such strength and a stand on your convictions. I just commented to Amelia about "faking" youth and hipness. You always want to be authentic. I have read some of your posts and I did not think that you were not professional nor credible.

Yes. Some people buy "the deal" lock stock and barrel. You don't have to. I try to check myself and see where the suggestions are plausible for me to implement and where they are not. Simple as that. Now, if after some time, I see that things are not changing for the better, I rethink again, reengineer and see if the results change. I think my comments or suggestions hold true: energy is important to compliment your resume and a "fresh" appearance (be it with grey hair or not). Energy is what people are reading more than anything. As far as a youthful or "fresh" appearance, do you know what colors brighten you? Stop at a men's department store and ask for a color assessment.

I too own a business (I'll answer a previous post from you about how we all can get together). You probably should not list it as your own. I get around it by listing my company, indicate that I am a consultant with 6 other people and am called on from time to time to assist them with training or whatever tasks that don't sound too managerial or entreprenuerial.

Thank you for the comment about my name. It is a variation of a french spelling. If you are implying that Pres. Obama's administration policies are or will be socialist then you should have done well in the Bush administration which did not attempt to address the very issues that you have experienced. The Bush administration was an oligarchy: one in which only the few elite beneift. With the elite pulling the strings, corporations are not afraid to implement discrimination, partiality to the old boys network.

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

65 months ago

Alizzabeth...Good points! That would be fun to have the men's department store assess what colors "brighten me". I have no doubt I need that. I have been assessing my resume and my more functional version is coming right along. Who needs dates anyway and I am certain I can show enthusiasm in how I express myself to potential clients.

I am very glad that I began this thread, time ago, because I have received good advice and have been able to hone my approach. I sincerely hope this thread has helped my fellow senior job searchers.

This, I must say, was never intended to tread on politics, even in the slightest, but I wanted to tell you that I agree with most of your comment about the Bush administration. I realize that the country has been in the state of oligarchy for even many more years that the Bush administration. It really began back in the early 60s. I also know, without a doubt that socialism is rapidly infiltrating America and don't feel that we should be fooled by it. Sorry...I am a veteran and every veteran as far back as the colonial days gave their live to keep the "isms" from penetrating. No reason to let down the guard now. Please let me say that and don't let this thread become a political volley.

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Alizzabeth SaintJohn in Newark, Delaware

65 months ago

Good Evening Michael,

I am making a English curtsey. I agree. Don't forget to send an email to JobCampaign@live.com for a free review especially if you are creating a hybrid functional/chronological resume. Did you think about which pieces of your work to pull for your portfolio? Which method did you decide on?

Oh, I know what we all can do...post are example resumes for critique. It can not hurt and I think, since it sounds as if we all are in the same boat why not? You can change any specifics that you do not want to air publically. It would be good to get a concensus on format.

Ah, Oh. Is that a socialist idea? smile...

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Martin Truther in Durham, North Carolina

65 months ago

I guess anyone who aspires to be a technical writer probably should move to one of the big urban centers (NY, LA, Silicon Valley, Boston, Atlanta, DC). The Raleigh/Durham (NC) area is borderline at best for tech writers, especially right now. I've had three interviews in the past 5 months. I read somewhere that it takes 17 interviews, on average, to land a job in the current environment. At the rate I'm going, I estimate it should only take me another 2 years or so to get a job. Of course, I was un/underemployed for almost 2 years after the tech bubble burst(2002), so that sounds about right.

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Alizzabeth SaintJohn in Newark, Delaware

65 months ago

Hey Martin!

That worries me because I am on my way to Raleigh/Durham area especially the RTP. I was laid off from Wall Street and don't want to wait for it to bounce back. I've lived through several eco downturns but this one feels like the worst.

All the job forecasters have suggesting the top ten cities were people are reinventing their careers. Raleigh/Durham/Charlotte is number 1! As I have family there, and have wanted to live in a southern environment, I was thinking this is the right time and I even found a nice place. I would like to hear more of your experiences about the area. I was told the RTP is a good place to start. Supposedly, surrounding areas have the big three industries: medical, (bio)research, and tech.

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

65 months ago

Alizzabeth SaintJohn in Newark, Delaware said: Good Evening Michael,

I am making a English curtsey. I agree. Don't forget to send an email to JobCampaign@live.com for a free review especially if you are creating a hybrid functional/chronological resume. Did you think about which pieces of your work to pull for your portfolio? Which method did you decide on?

Oh, I know what we all can do...post are example resumes for critique. It can not hurt and I think, since it sounds as if we all are in the same boat why not? You can change any specifics that you do not want to air publically. It would be good to get a concensus on format.

Ah, Oh. Is that a socialist idea? smile...

That sounds like a good, and perhaps helpful idea, Alizzabeth. I am still working on mine, but will send it as soon as I think it is right. As for portfolio, that has been worrying me a bit. We were talking about being hip and any work I could pull together would be
a bit old now. I left the industry in 2001, after another large layoff in the telecom business. The best I have left is document layouts from working as a manager in a large ministry. The work I did while in the industry was mostly secret, confidential and internal. They would not let me take that home. The best I could come up with is something I just developed for the sake of a portfolio without a company.

Thanks for helping me think of ways to make this forum more helpful to everyone.

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Michael Aprile in Elizabethton, Tennessee

65 months ago

Martin Truther in Durham, North Carolina said: I guess anyone who aspires to be a technical writer probably should move to one of the big urban centers (NY, LA, Silicon Valley, Boston, Atlanta, DC). The Raleigh/Durham (NC) area is borderline at best for tech writers, especially right now. I've had three interviews in the past 5 months. I read somewhere that it takes 17 interviews, on average, to land a job in the current environment. At the rate I'm going, I estimate it should only take me another 2 years or so to get a job. Of course, I was un/underemployed for almost 2 years after the tech bubble burst(2002), so that sounds about right.

This is quite interesting, and the first comment of this sort on this forum, Martin. I would like to hear about how your last five interviews went. Why do you think that no one called you to work after those interviews? Are you older? How qualified are you for the jobs for which you interviewed? I'm just a curious fellow and think it would help those who have joined our conversation.

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Alizzabeth SaintJohn in Newark, Delaware

65 months ago

Michael,

You are on the ball! That is exactly what I would have recommended and did. I look at and collect design examples all the time and think how I could make them better. Create some scenario and make a presentation to knock the hiring manager off their feet. It does not have to be a real live work sample. It is a portfolio indicating what you can do. You can always compliment a spiel with that particular sample by letting it play for a moment, and then connect how you would do this design using the company's products, service, etc to help the hiring manager make the connection. I just read an article on managing/manipulating your interview. I'll look for the link. (you are hipper than you know.) Would you give me tips on setting up my web page for my portfolio. I have some ideas, but at this point, I am respecting your feedback...

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Gregg57 in Charles Town, West Virginia

65 months ago

I've taken a portfolio to every interview and most employers don't want to see it. I have no idea why, but my suspicion is that the interviewers are HR people, not writers and have NO idea what they are looking at.

I spent six months (before and after graduation looking for a job in the Midwest before we took the plunge and moved to the DC area for my job at Independence Air. I knew I was rolling the dice, but I bet that they would be the next Southwest. Unfortunately, we became the latest "lawn dart," a footnote in aviation history. Great operationally, lousy buiness plan, I guess...

My average time between jobs has gone up each time. I was out of work after Independence Air for 2 1/2 months, after MAXjet Airways for 5 months. If my employer loses the current contract, I fear that I will be out of work for at least 7 months, maybe longer. I hope I don't get to find out.

On another note: Will this site preserve formatting from Word?

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