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

Subject: Re: Building experience--quit after six months or tough it out?
From: Joe Pairman <joepairman -at- yahoo -dot- co -dot- uk>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2008 12:19:46 +0000 (GMT)

Thanks to everyone for all the thoughtful advice, both on- and off-list. I really appreciate it.

Gene is right that the experience is the key thing. I was particularly interested in how the six months of structured authoring for a major cellphone company (albeit indirectly) would look when I applied for jobs in the west in the future. Whether that would be a meaningful chunk of experience when combined with other experience, or whether it would be too short to count for anything.

That six months should be good enough to get another tech writing job here if I want. There's a real need for native English-speaking technical writers who can work in a disciplined way. And I think it would be much better to work directly for a tech company rather than through these multiple layers. But with another job I could well just be using Word, doing documentation for not quite such a big brand name. I'm not sure which would be better for my long-term employment prospects in the west.

The situation is not quite as desperate as my original post implied. The writing job is salaried but ostensibly part-time, at a part-time rate. Overtime is unpaid (as with most salaried jobs here), but at most I do full-time hours at this job, plus other regular work elsewhere. So my workload equates to about one and a half times a normal job rather than double. I haven't tried to negotiate a pay raise because I didn't think I'd stay for long. But I suppose it's worth a try.

There's little room for maneuver on the project conditions. The deadlines are set by the cellphone company. The OEM has said on multiple occasions that they'll find another agency if we can't deliver. They've switched agencies before and in fact they refused to work any more with my ex-supervisor (part of the reason he left for a better job). They're very happy with me at the moment because I'm doing all the work necessary to get good quality documents delivered. But I would much prefer not to work in their crazy, fire-fighting way, where days' work can go to waste because of mismanagement and poor communication.

It's not all gloom, though. Things will improve, at least in the short term. There are now a couple of trainee writers helping me. As the most senior remaining writer, I'm training them! They'll take over these projects for a few weeks while I visit my family in the UK. I had thought of using this upcoming time away as an excuse to make a clean break from the company. But it seems that I might be best to struggle on until I find something better.


----- Original Message ----
From: Victoria Wroblewski <victoria -dot- wroblewski -at- eagletest -dot- com>
To: Joe Pairman <joepairman -at- yahoo -dot- co -dot- uk>; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Sent: Monday, 28 April, 2008 11:10:48 PM
Subject: RE: Building experience--quit after six months or tough it out?

-----Original Message-----
From: Joe Pairman
Sent: Monday, April 28, 2008 2:47 AM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Building experience--quit after six months or tough it out?

> This means that each week I put in 150-200% of the hours I'm paid

That sentence, alone, gives you the answer. Run.

I don't know why tech writers, more than some other tech professionals,
seem to put up with conditions like that a lot. I understand that the
nature of what we do often leads to crunch times and the need to put in
some extra hours sometimes, but it should not be a regular thing unless
you are being fairly compensated.

And heck... if you are working hours like that, shouldn't it count for
at least 9-12 months job experience?

- V

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