Re: Building experience--quit after six months or tough it out?

Subject: Re: Building experience--quit after six months or tough it out?
From: Beth Agnew <beth -dot- agnew -at- senecac -dot- on -dot- ca>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2008 11:33:20 -0400

First, stop putting in that extra time. If you don't push back on the
amount of work you're getting, they will never change. They might not
change anyway, but until you say it's unacceptable, they will assume you
have no problem working like that. Is the agency getting paid based on
what you are paid? If so, they should have a vested interest in you
either getting overtime, or not doing so much work that you risk burnout
and therefore zero income. If you refuse to work those insane hours,
they could fire you, but they'd have to pay you off and then at least
you'd be free with the decision made for you.

I think you're being way too accommodating. Start saying no -- something
every good techwriter needs to learn how to do effectively. Continual
overtime and frequent changes are big red flags signaling poor project
management. You may have to start "managing upward" by determining how
the project should run and then asking for that. You won't get all of
it, but you might get some. It might be hard trying to set boundaries
after the fact, but you're already at the point where you want to quit,
so it's worth a try.

Our profession is as much about relationships and project management as
it is about writing. If you can't see any way to try to improve things,
or your efforts at improving the situation are fruitless, go on to
something else. There are other good opportunities where you can get
quality feedback and challenging work, without destroying your soul in
the meantime.

Beth Agnew, Professor
Co-ordinator, Technical Communication Program
Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology
Toronto, ON.

Joe Pairman wrote:
> However, it's an extremely tough job--much tougher than it needs to be. For a start, the structured authoring tools are outdated and we're not able to use them as they're supposed to be used. A lot of stuff that should be automated has to be done by hand. In addition, there's mismanagement and poor communication by both the Taiwanese OEM and the agency I work for. This means that each week I put in 150-200% of the hours I'm paid for. And it's quite stressful as I'm never able to plan my time ahead, due to constant changes and requests from the customer, and little backup from our own company.

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Building experience--quit after six months or tough it out?: From: Joe Pairman

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