RE: What is a reasonable training period for newbie writers?

Subject: RE: What is a reasonable training period for newbie writers?
From: Krista Van Laan <KVanlaan -at- verisign -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2000 12:42:35 -0800

Bruce Byfield wrote in response to my post:
>
>
> Krista Van Laan wrote:
> >
> > What is a reasonable amount of time in which to expect a
> newcomer to the
> > field to be productive? 3 months? 6 months? A year? Someone
> mentioned that
> > after
> > six months on the job, the newbie with the "atmospheric
> benefits" and lots
> > of training
> > would be able to go get a job as an experienced tech writer
> > with a better salary. I would have thought that, too, but I
> believe my
> > expectations aren't realistic for what happens in real life.
> >
>
> Based on my experiences of both hiring and being hired, I'd say that
> most people seem to need 3 to 4 months to be completely comfortable
> in a new job. However, the general trend is usually obvious in 2 to
> 3 weeks. If a person doesn't seem up to the job after a few weeks,
> you might want to talk to them and give them another few weeks to
> shape up.
>
> Of course, there are exceptions. At one job, I knew in 2 days that I
> was in the wrong place.

<snip>

Right, an experienced writer might need a few months to feel comfortable in
a job and with the technology. But I'm talking about brand-new trainees,
people who have never been tech writers before. If it takes you, an
experienced tech writer, 3-4 months to feel comfortable in a job, then
I suppose a new tech writer might reasonably justify taking twice that
long, or more, since s/he has to learn the craft or whatever-you-call-it
of tech writing as well as learning about the company. The problem is
how one decides if a person isn't shaping up. Since they have no
experience as a technical writer, how much of is the manager's fault,
how much is the fact that they're just never going to cut it (and how do
you tell that early?), and how much is the fact that they're brand
new to the field and have a big learning curve?

> I would also add that I would generally expect a person with six
> months' experience in a single job to be less experienced than
> another person with six months' steady experience as a contractor.

<snip>

> In much the same way, I'd expect a lone writer, or a writer at a
> startup to gain more experience in six months than a junior member
> of a large writing team. The junior writer might know what they know
> very thoroughly, but, the chances are, they wouldn't have been
> exposed to as many different experiences.
>

I can't even imagine that a person with zero experience in
tech writing could go into contracting or into being a lone
writer in the first place.

Krista

================================================
Krista Van Laan
Documentation Manager
VeriSign, Inc. http://www.verisign.com
1350 Charleston Road Mountain View, CA 94043
tel: (650) 429-5158 fax: (650) 961-7300

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