As a working technical communicator, I often found myself as one of the few people (and sometimes the only one!) in the company who knew exactly what products we were working on and where they fit into the company’s vision. To do my job of documenting the products and consulting on their usability (how a product helps users achieve their objectives with it), I spoke to every department in the company at one point or another.
I was mostly involved with the research and development departments, but I frequently spoke to or worked with marketing to understand the customer they were trying to reach, and to sales to find out what aspects of the product(s) buyers were most interested in. This information gave me a sense of who the end user would be and what their needs were for the product or service they were purchasing. In that way, I could orient my documentation more effectively toward the user’s tasks.
I was listening to the radio and heard a report on morale among airport security screeners. They are subject to the anger and nasty comments of scores of passengers every day. Nobody likes the procedures for airport security screening. The shoe removal and pockets emptying is bad enough; if you happen to require a full body pat down, that’s even worse. But this report noted that it’s bad for the screeners too. They hate it just as much as we do, if not more because of the rude comments they are subject to while just doing their jobs.
If you use air travel, whether for work or pleasure, what do you say when you’re going through airport security screening? Is your attitude one of cheerful co-operation or surly resentment? Do you treat service personnel in a hotel or restaurant that same way? Think about it.
Contractors and freelancers are often asked to name their hourly rate for jobs, or state their salary expectations. Depending on the industry and the type of work you’ll be doing, rates can vary widely. I personally have found that for jobs I can properly scope, quoting a flat rate for the entire job is more worthwhile. But sometimes you need to know what figure to quote for work that will be billed at an hourly rate.
Here are some ideas that have worked for me:
- Determine how much you’re willing to do the job for. You will have a sense of how much it costs you to work (transportation, child care, clothing, lunches, etc.) and about how much per hour you’d need to earn to make it worth your while to take the job. That figure is your low end, rock bottom amount. See what they’re willing to offer above that figure. If they offer less, you must realize that you’ll be losing money by taking that job. Unless there’s a compelling reason to take that particular job, or if you have some other way of making up your shortfall, tell them thanks but you really need to be making at least $XX.00 per hour.