Recruiting Technical Writers: Problem Areas

Managers leading the documentation teams have mastered the ability to understand the expectations of their global clients and partners, communicate critical information clearly by avoiding cultural misunderstandings, and build global relationships that is critical to international success. But first and foremost, requirement is for effective hiring because everything else depends on the “human” resources that form an effective team.

In today’s competitive world, companies do not have the luxury to learn from mistakes. Instead, they should try to learn from the mistakes committed by the others. Some of the managers who have been involved in offshoring the technical publications jobs to India find recruiting in India a difficult and time-consuming experience.

The hiring problems are largely due to ten reasons:

  1. Lack of Trained Writers
  2. Educational Background
  3. Great Expectations
  4. Wrong Attitude
  5. Time Consuming Process
  6. Location and Relocation 

    Most of the trained and experienced technical writers are located in cities like Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Hydrabad, and Noida. People who are well settled in one location (say, Pune) may not want to relocate to another place (say, Noida) even if they are offered monetary incentives. In case of bachelors/spinsters, the location where the family (read parents) resides determines whether or not they will relocate to a particular place. Even if they relocate, they may soon look out for a change of job that will allow them to go back closer to their families.Recommendation: As far as possible, try to recruit local employees. This does not mean that you should not recruit out-station candidates. There are cases, where in the candidates may want to move out of the town or city they belong to. If you find someone who fits in the profile very well, go ahead. You just have to spend some extra time trying to check the stability factor.

  7. Pretendance 

Very often, you will come across candidates who reply confidently with well rehearsed answers, without knowing what they are talking about.

  • They pretend to know everything related to the job. They may define technical writing and tell you about a few skills required for the job. But when you probe a little further, they will be unable to answer intelligently.
  • Some candidates say that they are voracious readers when they probably read a book or two in a year.
  • Some make a generalized statement, “I love reading,” while some may tell you that they read the newspaper regularly, the others exclaim how much they love reading Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and books by Enid Blyton. Nothing wrong with these books, except that they are kiddies stuff!
  • Some candidates claim to love writing. Ask them what they have written and they proudly tell you that they have created their project reports.
  • I have heard many candidates make the statement, “I am extremely passionate about writing,” but they don’t have any writing sample (story, poem, article, travellogue, blog, etc.) to show off their passion. What kind of passion is that? A person who cannot shake a leg to music or who has not yet danced to music cannot say, “Dance is a passion”. The same applies to writing as well.

Recommendation: It is better to avoid candidates who pretend a lot—who pretend to be interested in technical writing, pretend to be voracious readers, and pretend to know facts. Chances are they may pretend to work too!

8. Too Little Communication

Most of the time, Indian candidates are reluctant to ask questions during an interview. Experienced writers may ask questions and clear any queries they may have. Candidates just out of college may be interested in knowing only about the salary and perks. This reluctance in asking questions often gets them a job they are not interested in. Later they would want to move on.  This causes a lot of problems for both the employees and the employers.


  • During the interviews, make the candidate feel comfortable.
  • Tell them that they are free to ask any questions, queries, or concerns they mayhave.
  • Even if they don’t ask, tell them in detail about the job profile and what they areexpected to do.
  • Students at college level must be made aware of the changing interview scenario.

9. Too Much Communication 

It is very unfortunate that at times the community of writers are not very professional. They not only discuss the writing tests given by the organization with their friends, but also publish them in the mailing lists and online forums. Such candidates should know that recruiting managers may also be the members of such lists and forums and they might loose out the chance of being recruited even if they are found to be suitable.

Recommendation: Discussing the corporate tests and interviews on a personal level (with an individual) isacceptable, but announcing it in a mailing list cannot be called sharing information. Itonly shows the un-ethical and unprofessional behavior of the individual. The need is toeducate the younger generation and instill the element of professionalism in them.

10. Confusion and Disinterest

(shall add information on each of these areas)


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