open thread – April 26-27, 2024 — Ask a Manager

here are the 10 best questions to ask your job interviewer — Ask a Manager

I commented earlier this year, asking what roles could be realistic for someone who doesn’t want to be a tech product manager anymore. Someone suggested technical writing, which has been at the top of my mind for a while.

Most of my unofficial experience comes from a previous workplace, where I wrote all internal and customer-facing guides for several products, and helped roll out a third-party software for in-app user guides. It wasn’t my official role: I was filling a gap alongside my job description duties, because we didn’t have a dedicated writer. I got a lot of praise for that, which I’m aware doesn’t mean the work was good by any other employer’s standards: it may well have been a case of “please never stop doing this as no one else will” (this is where I warn you that I have rampant imposter syndrome). But it did make me realise that breaking down a product or process in writing is something I feel comfortable / good at doing, and that I enjoy it more than being a product manager.

At that past workplace, my role sometimes crossed paths with Paul, a technical subject matter expert, who also works somewhere else now. Today, he shared a technical writing vacancy at his current workplace (enterprise software company with a product used by developers). I’ve been wondering whether to message him and express interest, even though we haven’t spoken in a couple of years (we were on good terms at OldJob). He’s not in the team where the vacancy is, so it would be more of a “would your company trash my CV if I don’t come from a writing role and the technology is new to me?” reality check.

I worry I’d sound out of line, because the role focuses on documentation for a product that uses a tech stack I have zero experience of. My sense, reading the job advert, is there wouldn’t be much point applying if I think I could learn the writing process quickly but don’t have the specific technical background. Plus, it’s been long enough that I’m fairly sure the guides I wrote at OldJob are no longer online for me to use as work samples for tech writer roles.

Should I listen to my gut and leave it alone, or drop Paul a line on LinkedIn and see what I can learn? And in the latter case, how would those of you who have successfully reached out to old connections phrase the question?

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