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Subject:Re: First days and weeks on the tech writing job From:Shari Punyon <sharipunyon -at- gmail -dot- com> To:Nina Rogers <janina -dot- rogers -at- gmail -dot- com> Date:Tue, 26 Jun 2018 22:18:38 -0400
Even a competent senior person will need some information and direction.
1) Are there any process or product requirements? They need to read
anything regarding workflow and standards. When I started in medical
devices the first step was to plow through all the procedures, so you
understood the requirements of the job. Style guides also should be
2) Time to become familiar with current documentation, and the systems
they will document. If there's product training, it would be great to
get them some.
3) the corporate structure, and introductions to their main contacts.
Where does your department fit in the larger organization? Who are the
people they need to know?
4) What do you expect them to do? Be clear about what you are hoping
for them to achieve.
The difference between a senior and a junior technical writer is that
the senior one just needs to come up on your company and it's
requirements. A junior person also needs to know how to do the basic
job. The senior person also knows what is important, and can focus
quickly on what is important. So the ramp-up for a senior person
should be minimal. The junior person ramp up is based on how smart
Junior people also won't be able to add much new insight into what can
improve your documentation. For example, at my current job, I
immediately was able to come up with a list of suggested improvements,
and have been implementing them as time permits (I was hired with this
in mind, so it wasn't obnoxious).
> On Jun 26, 2018, at 9:21 PM, Nina Rogers <janina -dot- rogers -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
> Thanks for all of the feedback, everyone! I've purposely pushed to hire a
> self-starter that I can turn loose, and we are interviewing people who are
> seasoned tech writers with 10-20 years of experience behind them. We need
> someone who can learn the software quickly and start writing. The current
> plan has the tech writer starting on their first article during Week 2, to
> be be completed and submitted for feedback by Week 4. The people who
> designed the plan are not tech writers, and their experience has been
> solely bringing on people who are just out of college for customer service
> roles, so the result is a plan that is all wrong. I'm going to present an
> alternate plan to them on Friday and will point out the reasons that the
> current one is a bad idea.
> The public and private feedback I'm receiving here is helping me to realize
> that my instincts are good and that I'm not crazy.
> On Tue, Jun 26, 2018 at 8:40 PM, Robert Lauriston <robert -at- lauriston -dot- com>
>> This is a junior person? I'd have to interview them before I would
>> have a clue how fast they could get up to speed.
>> I've always hired self-starters and turned them loose, but by
>> definition that's a senior person.
>> On Tue, Jun 26, 2018 at 9:55 AM, Nina Rogers <janina -dot- rogers -at- gmail -dot- com>
>>> Hello! We are hiring a technical writer, and my company is working on
>>> "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
>>> 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
>>> (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
>>> 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
>>> my opinion." If any of you (particularly documentation managers) can
>>> some insights to help me see if I'm on (or off) track, I would appreciate
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