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Explore Non-Traditional Career Paths Ways you can direct your career development Karen L. Bachmann The Technical Resource Connection, Inc. Rob Houser User First Services, Inc. Core Communication Skills Gathering information about users Researching information

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Explore non traditional career paths l.jpg

Explore Non-Traditional Career Paths

Ways you can direct your career development

Karen L. BachmannThe Technical Resource Connection, Inc.

Rob HouserUser First Services, Inc.


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Core Communication Skills

  • Gathering information about users

  • Researching information

  • Distilling research to only the required information

  • Organizing information

  • Conveying information, regardless of media or type of communication


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Finding New Areas

  • Areas where information is communicated to users

  • Places where users ask for more information

  • Products with which users interact

  • New developments in the industry related to communication


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Some Areas to Consider

  • Technical Marketing

  • Interface Design

  • Training

  • Functional Testing


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Technical Marketing

  • Information products that help sell the product

    • Informing decision makers

    • Getting customers excited about the product

    • Providing scenarios of use

  • Usually done by sales and marketing in large companies, but in small companies everybody helps sell the product


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Technical Marketing

  • Organizing information around customer questions and concerns

  • Persuading customers that your product meets their needs and is of high quality

  • Designing eye-catching graphics and layouts

  • Conducting demonstrations and making presentations at trade shows


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Technical Marketing

  • Technical fact sheets that highlight features of the product

  • Demos of product functionality

  • Brochures, flyers, and postcards that announce product events

  • Web sites that hype the company and the product

  • Trade show booths and promotional items


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Interface Design

  • The art and science of creating effective, intuitive communication between the software and the intended users


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Interface Design

  • Develop a user profile and task analysis

  • Learn about the domain the users work in

  • Identify and emphasize essential tasks

  • Map the flow of each screen and between screens to reflect the actual tasks

  • Identifying the most informative terminology, graphics, and relationships between screen elements


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Interface Design

  • The interface

  • User analysis

  • Task analysis

  • Design requirements (in conjunction with functional and system requirements)

  • Interface style guide

  • Usability validation plan and scenarios


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Training

  • Presenting information to users so they can learn to use the product effectively

  • Sometimes takes place as the users are doing the job; sometimes in classroom

  • Usually involves learning objectives, review, practice, and evaluation

  • Often conducted by a separate group of people with different skill


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Training

  • Conducting a needs analysis and task analysis

  • Researching, organizing, and conveying relevant information

  • Illustrating processes, workflow, and concepts

  • Delivering oral presentations


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Training

  • Materials for classroom training

  • Classroom training delivery

  • Print and online tutorials

  • Computer-based training

  • Web-based training

  • Performance coaching (agents)


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Functional Testing

  • Evaluating whether the final product performs all expected tasks completely


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Functional Testing

  • Have a solid understanding of users so you can identify potential problem areas

  • Know what the purpose of the product is and what needs it must meet

  • Use the product in all of the ways it is intended to be used following a real-world scenario

  • Capture detailed information about where the product fails to meet the requirements


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Functional Testing

  • Trouble reports in a database or configuration management tool

  • An effective final product


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Benefits of New Roles

  • Increasing your value (and your job security) to the company

  • Demonstrating the importance of technical communication to your company

  • Increasing your salary

  • Advancing your professional development


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Risks

  • Increased workload

  • Reduced quality of current deliverables

  • Additional training

  • Skeptical co-workers and employers

  • Outside your job description


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Strategies

  • Do your homework; prepare for the role

    • What skills the new role entails

    • What the role produces

    • How you qualify and what you need

  • Identify a current need

  • Find an advocate

  • Find a mentor


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Strategies

  • Inform your boss about what you’re doing

  • Include your new tasks into your annual performance objectives

  • Document what you’re doing – successes and failures

  • Be patient but persistent



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Rob: rob@userfirst.net

Karen:karenb@trcinc.com

Thanks!


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