I've been spending the week poking at my "technical writer" résumé. In theory this shouldn't be a stretch for me but in practice, I don't have the titles required and often don't have specific skills being looked for. Framemaker is the most lamentable absence. I've always come at desktop publishing from a layout and graphics standpoint, where PageMaker was the old standard, QuarkXpress has been the standard for years and InDesign is the up-and-coming tool of choice. Framemaker was either belittled or actively loathed in that community; nobody uses it for desktop publishing. Well, that's absolutely right, but it's not a sign that Framemaker is dying or obsolete--it's a sign that it's not in the DTP market at all. It's being used for end-to-end technical document production, which is something quite different.
Nonetheless, I worked on getting a credible résumé together and then did an abbreviated version of it for posting on Craig's List. It started out like this:
Me: A former web designer and coder with an extensive earlier history in writing, editing and publishing looking to move into a full-time writing position. Willing and able to take on a "multiple hat" role with a group that needs both content development and more general technical support, and willing to accept lower pay rates for cool work with cool people.
You: Looking for an entry-level to mid-level writer capable of producing documentation, articles or other content--specifically, someone comfortable with both "techspeak" and plain English, who can bridge the gap between technical and non-technical audiences. Willing to take a chance on a career-changer who has the core skills you need.
I got contacted by a recruiter within two hours of posting it, which certainly sets a personal record.
I have no idea if anything'll come of this, but maybe there's a certain value in being brazen after all. I'll have to apply this approach to another posting or two when I redo them. (My plan, such as it is, is to buy a style manual so I can add "knowledge of style manual X" to my skill list--yes, in some positions I've seen listed it does indeed count--and then to investigate what certifications I might be able to get relating to tech writing and communication through Brainbench. And, meanwhile, to try and get my Java skills up to a demonstrable level.)