RE: Changing careers FROM tech writing

Subject: RE: Changing careers FROM tech writing
From: "Rock, Megan" <Megan -dot- Rock -at- fanucrobotics -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2003 08:48:19 -0400

Anonymous is planning to leave the field of tech writing and pursue a new career:

> 1. How much notice should I give my employer? ...I would consider continuing
> to work part-time for my employer...if they are interested in pursuing
> that. How would you broach this subject if you were in my position?

What is the status of your current projects? Do you have periodic deadlines? Could you give at least four weeks notice, setting your last working day a week or so after a deadline or product release date (thus allowing for schedule changes or last-minute doc)?

When you meet with your manager to hand in your letter of resignation, be honest and straight-forward. You've decided to leave because you feel that a career change is in order, but at the same time you don't want to leave the doc group high and dry. Offer to work until your current major projects are wrapped up or can be transfered to the other writer, and let your manager know that you're willing to stay on part-time for a few months if they're interested.

> 2. <snip>I've set up most of the documentation procedures
> that are in use here. The only other writer here has
> been here less than a year still learning
> the procedures. <snip>What would you try to do in your last 4-6
> months in your job to make the transition easier for
> those who follow you?

Are all of your procedures documented? If not, start writing them down using the tools you use to author your doc. Create electronic copies that can be posted on a server or the department's intranet. Make it accessible! Include enough detail in your procedures that your co-worker can use them not just as a reference but also to train your replacement. Create a flowchart that shows the order of steps in your doc creation process. Indicate who is responsible for which tasks if anyone in addition to the writer plays a role in getting the documentation out the door.

Set up a few "knowledge transfer" meetings where you go over your flowchart and written procedures with the other writer (and anyone else impacted by you leaving). Give the writer an opportunity to ask questions and takes notes.

My manager recently left our company for new opportunities elsewhere, and these are some of the things he did to make the transition smoother. He has also kindly made himself available via e-mail and phone should we run into any problems in the next few months. When you leave on good terms, these are the kinds of courtesies you can offer to the folks you're leaving behind. Whether they take you up on it is up to them.

Good luck!

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