RE: Knocking 'em dead at a new job

Subject: RE: Knocking 'em dead at a new job
From: Paul Hanson <PHanson -at- Quintrex -dot- com>
To: Tech Writers List <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 10:59:21 -0600

Five things to do:

1. Smile, smile, smile. Not only at your boss, but to the co-workers you
see in the hall. You're new to the environment, you're excited about
being there. Say hello to everyone: everyone is your friend. If you are
introduced, look at them, not at the floor or the wall or to someone
else walking by. This is common sense but I've met new employees here
that, well, they don't talk. Period. If you have a question that they
know the answer to, you phrase your question as a yes/no question so he
can nod. *Serious* If you don't recall their name, politely ask them to
tell you it again. In the same vein, ask for a tour of the building so
you can start orientating yourself and where areas sit (programmers,
support, etc.). MEMORIZE the location of the programmers, especially if
you're going to be wearing thin the carpet between you.

2. Ask questions if you don't understand. At the same time, though,
especially if you are new to the subject area, do your homework.
Research the industry terms so that you don't ask questions that only
needed a couple of moments of research. For example, I wish I would have
dug into types of insurance policies before I started my 1st job. If I
would have found out what an IRA, a Whole Life, a Term, a Rider and
other 'simple' terms were before I started, I wouldn't have wasted my
mentor's time. The other thing this does is not attach a "he doesn't
know the subject matter." That prevented me from growing within the 1st
company I was.

3. Make waves, not tidal waves. You want to establish yourself as an
authority, but don't overstep your bounds. For example, there are
references to 'hit the <Enter> key' all over our online help. I've
resisted every morsel of my body that wants to go through all 1227
documents and replace 'hit' with 'press.' I change it when I see it, but
I've not proposed taking the time to go through each doc. I *want* to.
My manager would think I was crazy. SIDE NOTE: we are going to be
converting these 1227 documents into RoboHELP projects within the year
2000 and I knew that we would be doing so since Day One here.

4. Don't try to change *your* new world in a day. Your company has an
established culture from before you arrived. If you came from an
environment where everyone goes out to lunch in groups, and now, at this
company, everyone eats at their desk at 2 pm, acknowledge it if no one
accepts your invite to get something to eat at noon.

5. Be aware of your surroundings. At my first job, a new technical
writer started. Her 'project' was to take our print manuals and
re-format/redesign them and make PDFs out of them. On her first day, as
she was looking over our manuals, she said, aloud, "This is awful." Now,
today, I'd agree. Then, my co-worker, who had written almost every word
of our user manual over the previous 8 years, and I were offended. It
was *not* a good first impression.

<name five things you do to make a great first impression.>

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