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topics of out of date how-to material.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
employed.

-Tony

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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References:
First days and weeks on the tech writing job: From: Nina Rogers

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