Re: Internal transfer

Subject: Re: Internal transfer
From: "Jane" <judydh -at- total -dot- net>
To: <NZjaba -at- phi -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2000 23:46:52 -0400

It may be that it is very good for the both of you that you do the job
part-time to ramp up into it. However, at the same pay, it is a bum deal. As
a marketing writer, I was charging up to twice my rate for technical
writing. At first I had to ask a more experienced writer why. These are the
reasons I wrote down in that conversation:

1) you must understand the product
2) you must understand the market
3) the writing must be more precise, and must add, rather than detract, from
the symphony of marketing prose
4) it takes a lot of prior experience to condense product/market/angle into
an effective 200 words.
5) unless you've got a huge company churning out marketing documents, there
is less work, and it comes in smaller, tighter bites.
6) it requires creativity, and this is something the Marketing Guy and the
President usually lack. You will spend *a lot* of time convincing people of
your work before it gets the go-ahead. You can easily lose your job over it.
7) while web writing is more forgiving a medium in writing than others, it
often has more urgency and (sometimes) more technical difficulties. This
point is slightly irrelevant but hey, I wrote it down at the time.

If you get to do this, negotiate for higher pay on an hourly basis. That
way, they can back out if you find out you hate it, or when they decide the
president's teenage nephew has a really good understanding of Webbie Wickle
Wackers and the game-girl market. If you can't get higher pay, get added
perks and benefits, like a T1 line at home, a personal subscription to Dr.
Dobbs, Fast Company, and the Atlantic Monthly, and a trade conference like
at www.geekcruises.com.

Next topic: though it could all be a new crop of roses, caution in the face
of sudden change, I wanted to raise the politics flag. In Near-Total
Globalized American-Style Corporate Culture, one cannot bite off more than
they can chew. If they do, they are not the ones that do the spitting; nay,
they don't even get a good solid pound on the back to dislodge the offending
object from their gaping maws. Yes, there is more silence and thinly veiled
acceptance when it is a manager who bites off more than they can chew,
that's why incompetent managers stay lodged ever more effectively the higher
they go. That's also why they don't realize they're incompetent; no one
would tell them. They'd surely back away from the ledge sooner if someone
did. But anyway.

That you aren't welcome to go over full time, right away, as was first
intended, is NOT the marketing guy's idea, though it is not to his
disadvantage. They might have their own big problems but you're certainly
not one of them, yet. You _are_ better off with a warm-up period,
unfortunately (and possibly deliberately) billed as a probationary period,
but this is certainly for a reason. Though it feels like disparagement, if
you are given a chance, forget about any insinuations and prove that you can
do it. After all, a technical writer has the above 1) and most of 2) down
cold, so it shouldn't be too difficult.

It could be that in your current position, somebody has a beef and doesn't
want you to succeed. Or they're being a bucket of crabs, pulling the one who
goes for the rim back in. It can't be because they think they need you too
much. Moves within the company, even (or especially) to ameliorate a
situation for the company's needs, are a sure sign of success. Others do not
want to grant that easily.

To be fair to all, and diplomatic, someone probably said they can't let you
go right now. Even so--in case you have an enemy--play it very, very
carefully if this proceeds. Count on overtime and higher scrutiny on both
fronts. This is where they will build a case against you, and they will do
it from both angles. If you fail, not only may you be billed bad for the new
job, you will be billed bad for the old one.

If it does not proceed, think about whether you are comfortable working in a
situation where someone in your chain of command did not support you. It
does not bode well for future promotions or job changes. If you cannot
forsee another, more senior, technical writer leaving anytime in the next
year, leaving you room to move up, and you want to move up, then I'd say the
writing is on the wall. One should not have to prove themselves for years at
the same company. All they should be is a good fit for the new job.

I was in a similar situation where I knew I was not the best technical
writer they could hope to get, but the market was tight, and I'd been doing
the job for almost a year. The material was too diverse, too challenging,
and I had _no_ support or training beyond interviewing the SMEs. I had a
little bit of Sierra's problem, where what I said was...just what I said,
and what everyone else said, went. Probably with good reason sometimes, too.
But I knew that the company desperately needed SOMEONE to do ANY marketing
work, and I was the best research/information-type person they had in a
pinch. I would have gladly done the marketing work part-time, with
occasional jaunts to the San Francisco office to put in the required face
time. If they didn't go for that, I would have moved to the States on a US
equivalent of the Canadian money I was making, even though I knew that it
was a starvation allowance, because I knew that they would not pay me one
red cent more than I was making, but in this case they'd have nothing to
lose. I just wanted to succeed at it, and the people in the San Francisco
office were interested. However, the local officers didn't even put it on
the table. They profited well from my desire to prove myself once I'd
identified what I wanted to accomplish, but I had an expiration date...and
it passed with no changes, so that was it.

I've cross my fingers for you. Good luck.

Jane








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