Career Ladders

A sample of career ladders I use for my organization, open sourced for anyone.

Technical Writer I #

  • Works closely with the Product Engineering team to incorporate new releases into our existing documentation.
  • Has an ability to achieve clarity with conciseness and accessibility.
  • Checks for cohesion in tone and style with existing documentation.
  • Acts as a critical advisor for UI copy and names for things, referencing where we might have collisions in existing terms, and attempting to find the best explanation for users.
  • Reads through our existing documentation and updates/corrects for legibility.
  • Understands our writing style guide and adheres to it.
  • Performs PR reviews for their peers with a focus on writing, style, and grammar.
  • Communicates internally and externally in a respectful manner.

Technical Writer II #

  • Strong understanding of the product space and capabilities to inform high levels of accuracy in documentation.
  • Helps our Product team establish harmony between written and visual communication in UI Copy.
  • Accurately captures all relevant content and resources, establishing visibility for users.
  • Understands our writing style guide and adds to/refines it.
  • Performs PR reviews for their peers that considers flow and the audience, as well as the goals of the product.
  • Listens to the priorities and concerns of others, and acknowledges differing perspectives. Anticipates others’ reactions.
  • Thinks through and files issues for how to refine the docs site and UI.
  • Reflects on user feedback and either categorizes it as won’t fix, or turns it into something actionable.
  • Actively participates in meetings, and creates cross-team collaboration where necessary to address business goals.

Senior Technical Writer #

At this point, a person is mastering how effective they can be as an individual contributor.

  • Acutely aware of our audience and defers voice and tone to meet the needs of the user.
  • Considers overall information architecture both in writing and while reviewing. Thinks through what the user needs exactly at the point of learning to reduce cognitive overhead.
  • Understands with depth what our organization and company OKRs are, and performs audits on their content to make sure we are achieving our goals.
  • Has an understanding of the wider ecosystem of tools so that they know what context users may or may not be coming from.
  • Ensures that there’s a clear path for a first-time user and understands how and when to weave in advanced material such as caveats and warnings.
  • Understands with depth when and how users will perceive naming conventions, UI copy, and thinks through potential tradeoffs and benefits for different directions.
  • Helps support the work of their peers both on the team and in the community at large, by engaging pairing sessions, reviewing, and providing mentoring.
  • Gathers customer impressions of products and services and integrates this feedback into decision making.
  • Adjusts well to shifting priorities when necessary.
  • Demonstrates openness to others’ ideas. Adapts their communication style to most effectively communicate with the target audience. Effectively and accurately shares credit for ideas and collaborative efforts.

Staff Technical Writer #

At this point, the majority of one's time is spent scaling their own skills to help others.

  • Conducts competitive tear downs and illuminates new patterns and industry standards for information architecture, educating their peers and coworkers.
  • Gives review feedback on PRs with a mind towards the growth of the individual they are reviewing, thinking through not just the content of the review, but how they can explain something to help guide the person in the future.
  • Develops new plans and projects for our documentation, creating one-page proposals on how we might level up to better serve our users and/or business needs.
  • Works on integrations or materials that aid in partnerships within the ecosystem.
  • Attends support pairing prepared with ideas for improving the docs based on the customer feedback that’s been surfaced that week or well-formed questions to drive towards developing such ideas collaboratively. Helps shape support pairing to make it more efficient and effective.
  • Notices recurring friction/confusion that impedes team success/efficiency and creates resources that clarify or solve these issues. Ensures the resources are easy to locate.

Principal Technical Writer #

At this point, one is helping others be the best that they can be, removing themselves and meeting others where they are.

  • Develops proven systems and approaches to technical writing. Replicates those systems and approaches across the team so that others may learn from and improve on them.
  • Mentors and actively drives the technical skills of the immediate or extended team.
  • Anticipates issues or implications that their ideas would have on others, and pursues mutually beneficial strategies.
  • Anticipates the needs of those around them. Is respectful in terms of async hygiene, exhibiting care that their teammates can get in touch with them or knows their status during working hours. Fills out process docs without having to be asked.
  • Works to refine team processes to ensure everyone can be as productive as possible and build cohesion within the team.
  • Considers team morale one of their initiatives- actively strives to support others, make sure their voices are heard, and illuminate others’ work.