What We Do and How We Work.

We're grateful for the opportunity to work with you. This page will orient you to our service and help you determine whether we can help you.

What We Do.

Synergistech Communications is a specialized recruiting service for San Francisco Bay Area staff and contract technical communicators. The technical communications professionals we serve include:

Like other recruiters, we match qualified, interested, and motivated 'talent' with contract and staff employment opportunities and get paid by the companies who hire the candidates we introduce.

Unlike almost all other recruiters, we focus on one specialty and geographic area: technical communication in the San Francisco Bay Area. Further, we have almost a decade's first-hand experience actually doing the work for which we're recruiting — writing technical reference documentation, delivering training, managing publications teams, herding cats (um, SMEs) — and have kept current with the tools and technologies used in, as well as the trends affecting, the technical communications business. We work hard to keep current with the software development industry, in particular, and attend a variety of local professional meetings each month. See our calendar for a sampling (as well as opportunities to meet us in person).

What really sets us apart, however, is the fact that we work peer-to-peer with hiring managers and actually listen to, understand, and respect all parties. Essentially, we are the kind of recruiting firm we wish had existed earlier in our own careers — an informed, reliable, resourceful, respected, and honest one.

Synergistech's president, Andrew Davis, has over two decades' experience working in and recruiting for technical publications departments in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a Technical Writer, he worked at Verity, IBM, Network Equipment Technologies (NET), Informix, Borland, Silicon Graphics (SGI), Zehntel (now Teradyne), and Oracle (where he also managed a publications department). As a Recruiter, he's helped several hundred local companies find the talent they needed.

Synergistech creates rewarding professional relationships for technical communicators. We do that by being candid, responsive, well-connected, focused, and fair. To see whether we deliver, view our LinkedIn profile's recommendations and our testimonials.

Why Technical Communications Professionals Value Us.

Why Technical Communicators Value Us.

We distribute detailed job and contract listings We distribute detailed job and contract listings by email and via this web site (see Looking?).

We keep candidates informed without pressuring them We keep candidates fully informed without pressuring them. We do no "selling".

We communicate promptly, professionally, and candidly We communicate promptly, professionally, and candidly — sharing the bad news as well as the good.

We have a very reasonable commission structure We have a very reasonable commission structure (paid by the hiring company, never by the candidate).

We don't have exclusivity or non-compete clauses We never include exclusivity or non-compete clauses in our contract (Synergistech does not constrain its candidates' ability to compete, unlike other agencies.).

Why Hiring Managers Value Us.

We speak hiring managers' language We speak their language and work peer-to-peer because we're former technical communicators ourselves and know both the technology and the local market.

We send well-screened candidates who won't waste your time We send well-screened applicants who won't waste anyone's time.

We earn trust by being well-informed and able to advise We earn trust by being well-informed about specific needs and solutions, often advising about positions' requirements, compensation, and even responsibilities.

We work with integrity and transparency We work with integrity and transparency, and maintain relationships with hundreds of top technology companies in the SF Bay Area.

The Types of Opportunities We Handle.

We have frequent opportunities for experts in the following technical communications disciplines:

We also have occasional opportunities for these (and similar) professionals:
We work primarily with Bay Area software developers seeking technically sophisticated communicators with a track record of successfully meeting the needs of busy, impatient users of complex systems. These companies bring us their most challenging — and most lucrative — assignments, and we respond with qualified, motivated, informed candidates.

As much as we try to secure such assignments, our listings rarely involve 'easy' writing work — such as end-user procedures, GUI documentation, or internal 'best practices' instructions — nor are the vast majority suitable for entry-level candidates.

If you're new to technical communications, we can still help you indirectly. See our site's Advice pages, and in particular the Communicators in Transition section, for specifics. Our Candidate FAQ may also help you get your bearings.

Register Now.

If you would like Synergistech's help finding rewarding work with the best high-tech companies and technical communications — technical publications, training, marketing communications — departments in the SF Bay Area, please visit our registration page and follow the instructions.

You'll be able to subscribe to our emailed job and contract employment listings, giving you instant notification of our technical communications opportunities as they become available. It's then up to you to respond to the ones that interest you and for which you believe you are qualified, and simply ignore the rest. You may unsubscribe at any time or remain subscribed indefinitely in order to stay tuned in to the job market (or just forward to qualified colleagues in exchange for a generous referral fee when we succeed in placing them).

Please read the next section, How We Work, to gain a better understanding of how you can take advantage of our services.

How We Work.

Once you have registered and opted in to our email distribution list(s), you will begin receiving new listings as soon as we publish them. Note that these listings are not targeted specifically at you. They go out to everyone who is subscribed to that list. Our descriptions are long and detailed, which is why we give each one a subject line and summary information highlighting key details to help you quickly identify those positions you would like to read more about. There's no need to respond to postings that don't interest you, but please feel free to share them with your qualified colleagues and earn up to $1000 for your trouble. Just don't forward them to other recruiters.

To respond to a listing, please do not just hit reply and attach your resume. Instead, go to our Looking? page and click the "apply for this job" link at the bottom of the listings' detailed description, then fill in the form and answer our questions. Too hard? Are you sure you want your candidacy taken seriously?

When you work with Synergistech, you are in the driver's seat. If you are actively seeking employment, proactively identify each job to which you wish to apply and supply as many details as you can — that aren't evident from your resume — about your qualifications for that position. Also tell us about your concerns (such as the job's pricetag, onsite and/or skill requirements, responsibilities, and so on) so we can address those before moving forward.

If we agree that there is a match, we will reveal to you the name and location of the company, and identity of the manager, and will only send out your resume after you give us the green light. See our Candidate Agreement for the details of how this works. If we do not agree that there is a match, we'll tell you that. If you'd like more specifics, simply ask us by email. We believe you deserve to know.

Once the hiring manager has seen your resume, and has indicated interest in speaking with you, we will facilitate the introduction and coordinate the interview process.

Later on, we can — indeed, we prefer to — handle all aspects of negotiating your compensation package, including salary, bonuses, offsite work privileges, vacation allocation, stock options (when applicable), review cycle, training reimbursement, and so on.

After you have secured your new position, we encourage you to remain subscribed to our listings (from a personal, not a company-supplied, email address) so you may stay tuned to the job market and/or take advantage of our referral fees. Know, however, that if you become a salaried employee of the company to which we introduce you, our recruiting agreement forbids us to recruit you away from that employer. Please see our Candidate Agreement for details.

Are You New to Technical Communications?

We take pride in our ability to help you evolve as a technical communicator. We have lots of from-the-trenches insights to share with aspiring and perspiring professionals, and encourage you to explore the original articles and other resources we've assembled in the Advice section of our site. If you're a hiring manager who's new to the game, out of practice, or just overwhelmed, please review our Clients page for resources.

If, however, you're looking for your first or second technical communications job out of school, we are unlikely to be able to find you work. Here's why. The companies using our services expect us to earn our fee by bringing them candidates with substantial industry experience and a solid professional track record. We have built our reputation by bringing them professionals who have demonstrated the skills, talent, and motivation to make a significant ongoing contribution.

The industries we serve require that newcomers have subject-matter knowledge of technical topics (such as relational databases, networking, or software development tools) or at least two years' related work experience, and although we're persuasive we just can't make managers' hiring decisions for them....

If you're wondering how to resolve this dilemma, you're not alone — and it is for you that we've written Getting Experience when you have none: Escaping the Catch-22. It is full of practical, proven suggestions about how to develop your career in technical communications 'from scratch'. We've heard many dozens of success stories from junior-level technical communicators who have implemented these suggestions.

If, after you've reviewed our professional-advancement advice, you still feel the need for one-on-one consultation, feel free to make an appointment for career-coaching sessions.

Synergistech's Context.

Synergistech Communications was created in 1991 by Andrew Davis as a one-person documentation services company. In 1995, after he'd written a few too many API references as a Contract Technical Writer and (in his informal role as Career Advisor to several Northern California professional groups) heard far too many stories of manipulative recruiters having the last laugh, Andrew acted on his conviction that both companies and candidates deserve better. He transitioned Synergistech into a recruiting firm that both parties would actually want to use.

Synergistech rapidly earned a reputation among both candidates and hiring managers for its precision, speed, and overall effectiveness during the Internet Boom years. We frequenly had over 100 open job listings, and worked with 400+ client companies a year. We had a staff of up to six, and diversified to serve marketing communications ('marcom') professionals as well as technical communicators. Then, in early 2001, the lights went out. After six months it was clear a recovery was not imminent, so Andrew put Synergistech into hibernation on November 16, 2001, retaining only two of Synergistech's team to develop a resume-writing firm called Life's Work Services.

Life's Work Services offered both resume edits and full-service rewrites, as well as interview coaching and third-party reference checking, but survived only three years because our clients' disposable income was so minimal. After a few more slow years, Silicon Valley's demand for technical communications recruiting services finally returned and Andrew quietly resuscitated Synergistech as a leaner, more automated firm.

Synergistech is now thriving once again, due largely to Andrew's collaboration with a group of remarkable current and former technical communicators all of whom have substantial experience in the SF Bay Area software industry. Some are mentioned here, others you won't meet until you call us, and others still we keep anonymous because they're too busy already.

You can learn more about today's Synergistech on our Company page.

Work Options.

Synergistech places technical communications professionals in a variety of work arrangements:

For staff placements, our commission is a percentage (typically, but never more than, 20 percent) of your first year's salary and is paid by your new employer. This fee is usually payable only after you have worked for a full 90 days.

If you are interested in working on an independent contractor basis (either "1099" or corp-to-corp), and the company is willing, Synergistech will set up a two-party relationship in which you contract directly with that company. In these cases, Synergistech negotiates with the company an hourly rate for your services consisting of your personal compensation rate (on which we have previously agreed) plus our commission. You and Synergistech then sign our Referral Fee Agreement, in which you agree to pay us our commission each time you receive a paycheck from the company.

This type of brokered two-party, company-contractor ("direct") relationship, while unconventional, protects both company and contractor from being automatically reclassified (under Section 1706 of the 1986 Tax Reform Act) as employer-employee. Note, though, that the contractor must still satisfy the IRS' 20 Common Law Questions.

Synergistech can arrange for a contractor to work as a temporary ("W2") employee if the company or contractor is unwilling or unable to set up a true independent contractor (1099 or corp-to-corp) relationship. In this case, the temporary worker gets a supervisor's signature on his or her timecard at the end of each weekly pay period, then receives payment within a week.

When working as a temporary ("W2") employee, your state and federal payroll, unemployment, and social security taxes are fully covered, as are workers' compensation, general liability, owned & hired automobile, professional (errors & omissions), and employment practices liability insurance. In addition, you're eligible immediately for full-featured 401(k), dental, and vision plans, and can have your paycheck deposited directly to your bank(s). Workers must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents of the U.S., or nationals of Mexico or Canada with a valid TN visa.