Re: First days and weeks on the tech writing job

Subject: Re: First days and weeks on the tech writing job
From: Tony Chung <tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca>
To: Nina Rogers <janina -dot- rogers -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2018 13:25:07 -0700

As a new guy who is always hired into a messy situation and expected to
create miracles, I think being clear with your expectations at the start is
paramount to a successful onboarding. Being a constant shadow gives the
impression youâre micromanaging. Not providing enough detail about what you
want the person to achieve will cause frustration.

My onboarding at a large global company consisted of disorganized wiki
topics of out of date how-to material. I was left pretty much on my own and
had to figure things out.

Three months in, I was given a great opportunity to work alongside a more
experienced (with the company) writer to help with that personâs tasks
using my special skill set of coding and video. The very next day, the
company laid off a number of staff, my colleague included. So then I became
that guy, part time, while focusing on my content at the same time.

Looking back, I should have asked for that opportunity when I first
started, so that I could hit the ground running and make an impact before I
officially took on the documentation for a complete product all on my own.
It turns out the work I was doing for my product was next generation, and
didnât fit the corporate documentation (which traditionally had been
regarded as terrible). This came to a head when my product docs were merged
into a different doc suite and it made my work virtually invisible.

Had I stayed working with the experienced writer, I would have learned more
about how our documentation was traditionally done, and could have
introduced the improvements the writer wanted to implement while still


On Tue, Jun 26, 2018 at 09:56 Nina Rogers <janina -dot- rogers -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

> Hello! We are hiring a technical writer, and my company is working on their
> "onboarding" schedule. (This is the first time they have hired someone in a
> tech-writing capacity. I was hired for another position and morphed my way
> to tech writer.)
> I was not included in the planning sessions for onboarding (yes, I'm kind
> of bitter about that) and have been asked to review the onboarding
> schedule, now that it's been written. I have some suggestions to change it
> (oh, do I have suggestions), but I'd like to ask the folks here first: If
> you are a tech writer with a company (i.e., not an independent contractor),
> what were your first few days and weeks on the job like? Did you spend a
> few weeks gaining knowledge of the software (or whatever you were writing
> about) before you were let loose to start writing articles, or did you
> pretty much dive in and learn as you go? How much oversight did you get
> from a manager/supervisor before you stopped needing close oversight?
> I'm particularly hearing from people who have hired/onboarded junior
> technical writers. Like I said, I have lots of opinions about how the
> onboarding process should be changed, but I also don't want to offer "just
> my opinion." If any of you (particularly documentation managers) can offer
> some insights to help me see if I'm on (or off) track, I would appreciate
> it.
> Thanks in advance!
> Nina
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First days and weeks on the tech writing job: From: Nina Rogers

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