Re: The 4-month itch [WAS: Coping strategies]

Subject: Re: The 4-month itch [WAS: Coping strategies]
Date: Fri, 4 Sep 1998 08:06:34 -0500

Rowena Hart writ:
>Since I graduated from university, the longest period of time I've
>spent in one job (and at one company) is a year. Eight months
>seems like an eternity. I can't even imagine staying at one
>company for five years.
>I'm curious about whether other tech writers out there have the
>same 4-month itch? How do you cope with it? Does it go away
>after a few years? How much does the high tech environment
>feed into the "these boots are made for walking" mentality?

I spent five years at my first company, eighteen months at my second,
fourteen months at my third, and sixteen months (so far) at this, my

I have absolutely hated all this job-switching in the past four years.
It's draining. (However, I hated more the bad choices I made in taking
the middle two jobs, and the situations I found myself in at those
companies. Hence, my exits.)

I like sticking with a company longer-term because I can become
extremely knowledgable in the company's product and process. This was
key -- by the time I left the company, I knew the products very, very
well, which meant I spent most of my time working to communicate
effectively, and increasingly less time struggling to learn the product.
I watched my department and the company grow and change. I helped my
department and the company learn from their mistakes.

Five years from now, I'd like to still be here, looking forward to
another five years. I hope it turns out that way.

>Also, do you think that constant movement from job to job helps
>or hinders a technical writer's career? I've learned extremely
>valuable skills from every job I've had, so I can see the value of
>"moving on". On the other hand, I can understand why an employer
>would be nervous about hiring someone who can't seem to stay
>in one place for more than a few months.

My short stays at my previous two companies raised some eyebrows during
the interviews that led to this position. However, that I put in five
years at my first position seemed to anchor me in interviewers' eyes. I
convinced my current boss that I intended to find a good position and
then stay put.

On the other hand, I learned skills *crucial* to my success here during
my short stays at the two previous companies -- I learned about the
publications process at a publisher, and about instructional design in a
forward-thinking documentation department for an otherwise unremarkable
software company.

I guess it's not so much the road you choose, but what you make out of
your journey.


jim grey \ Documentation Manager
Made2Manage Systems, Inc. \ jgrey -at- made2manage -dot- com

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