Having had about eight job titles in two years, I know I’m not alone in changing or reviewing my title to reflect new skills and work tasks. Now it’s content strategy that is the big ask – and it’s making a certain job title very desirable in 2010. Technical communicator Jerry Bartlett reviews his own life cycle of jobs and wonders if ‘content strategist’ is next – and if it will keep him in work.
When asked, I usually tell people I’m a writer. Either that, or a whisky judge – both are true, but neither answer gives the full story.
It’s also not completely true to say I became a technical writer because I was embarrassed to admit to being a computer programmer. Tech author sounded better, then information designer and then technical communicator. Sounds better, but still has the ring of an occupant of the B-Ark.
I now find myself drawn to content strategy. Could this be my escape?
You may remember from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, that the hitchhikers find themselves on a spaceship, the B-Ark, seemingly populated by middlemen: management consultants, account executives, telephone sanitisers, etc, fleeing a supposedly doomed planet. Of course, those who were to follow in the A-Ark and C-Ark – the do-ers, thinkers and leaders – never quite got around to launching.
Often, in times of economic downturn, many technical communicators find themselves surplus to requirements, with the B-Ark of redundancy threatening. After all, engineers can write, can’t they? And marcomms can produce brochures and websites.
I have survived more than a few times because I found a niche: the middle ground between the techie who doesn’t ‘get’ marketing, and the marketing executive who is not totally au fait with the technology. The result, if I say so myself, is documents and web pages that are genuinely useful to the reader and technically accurate.
Content strategists have created a similar niche, combining creative ability and business knowledge.
They know how to make a website (and a range of other things) make a measurable difference financially to a company. That’s not being a B-Ark middleman, that’s being integral to the business. There’s no typical content strategist [see why on Rahel Bailie’s guest post – ed], but I think I’ll fit in here. And maybe it’s my ticket out of the B-Ark.
Jerry Bartlett is a freelance technical communicator based in the UK and Sweden. He also blogs about beer, whisky, food and music at thenightjar.posterous.com and contributes to antarcticodyssey.wordpress.com, promoting awareness of organ donation.
If you think content strategy might be for you, Firehead has collected a number of resources to help you make the transition – check out the content strategy pages on the sidebar or the links below.
Also, anyone else out there with job titles that are constantly evolving? I would love to know what YOU say when people at parties, conferences or networking events ask that immortal question: “So… what is it that you do?”
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