Becoming a Technical Writer: Chances for Freshers

Though many organizations hire only trained and experienced writers, some also recruit freshers, writers without any experience. This decision usually depends on the project requirements, the policy of the organization, and the time the organization is ready to put in for training.

  • If you are a fresher, the interviewers are usually interested in knowing about your basic skills, attitude, learning potential, seriousness, and aptitude.
  • They may want to ensure that you have the have the skills to match and more importantly, that you really want to be a technical writer.
  • Since they cannot check about the relevant skills and experience, they also concentrate on the attitude of the candidates.

They will prefer candidates who have taken the pains to do a bit of homework and research before coming for the interview. After all, this shows the inherent qualities of the candidates like audience analysis, inquisitiveness, researching, and information gathering, apart from the others. If you are able to display these skills, communicate clearly, and are able to convince the interviewer of your worth and interest, you will get the job regardless of your experience or inexperience.

Why not Recruit Freshers?

There are some reasons for lesser opportunities for freshers who are looking out for making a career in the field of technical writing. Some of the reasons are:

  • Disinterest of the organization:

Some small organizations and some documentation service companies may not be interested in hiring freshers. The writers are probably paid based on the time and effort they put into the project on an hourly basis. So, it is but natural that they may want to do away with training process altogether.

  •  Relatively less vacancies:

The number of technical writing vacancies are less when compared to other areas in the industry like software development, quality testing, web development, and so on. Even in those areas, it is not easy to get freshers who have reasonably good knowledge of the concepts and processes used to perform their tasks well.

  • Difficult to gauge skills:

It is often difficult to gauge the skills and the interests of the freshers. It is easier to map the skills of an experienced writer to the expectations and requirements of the job.

    •  Sometimes a candidate may speak extremely well, but their written language may not be upto the mark (or the other way round).
    • Some candidates state how passionate they are about writing, but have no writing samples to show off their passion (no blogs, no reviews, no articles, nothing at all).
    • A few over smart candidates even declare that they are passionate about writing and cite academic project reports as a result of their passion.

In such cases it becomes difficult to make an appropriate decision. Therefore, many organizations prefer to take experienced candidates.

  • Candidates are not serious:

Most of the engineers and science graduates view technical writing as an opportunity to enter an organization and then move on to other departments if they perform well. They feel it is below their dignity and intelligence to work as a technical writer, which has often made me wonder about my decade-long profession.

  • Unrealistic expectations:

Unfortunately, the focus of the youngsters is towards the remuneration and not towards their own interests, skills, flaws, or drawbacks. They don’t realize that an organization pays the candidates for the skills and experience they have. Many have no appropriate skills, infact no knowledge about technical writing, but expect to be paid on par with the market value of technical writers. But the million dollar question is do you command that market value?

Why Recruit Freshers?

Some organizations prefer recruiting freshers because of the following reasons:

  • Easy to mould/train

New writers can be moulded according to the requirements of the organization. They do not have any preconceived notion about the way certain things work, the tools they have to use, and the work they have to do.

  • Organizational policies

Organizations with smaller teams prefer freshers for the following reasons:

    • To keep their existing writers motivated, as it gives them a chance to mentor and train new writers.
    • They believe in recruiting freshers and training them to do the work they want the writers to do.
    • Reduce cost by taking in freshers.

 Though it might require some training related time and effort, many organizations are ready to indulge.

  • Perform production tasks

Organizations may want to hire people to initially do insignificant looking activities:

    • For maintaining old set of documentation (when the product is not being updated, but being maintained).
    •  Converting the documents to different formats.
    • Incorporating the editorial or review comments so that the senior writers focus on more important tasks.
    • Performing usability test of the documentation.
    • General production checks.

When the writers have proved themselves, they are absorbed as full time writers and are given more responsible activities and projects to work on.

  • Inexperienced experienced writers

After 3-6 months of basic training, some trainee writers feel that they are an experienced lot. They have a lot of expectations in terms of remuneration, responsibilities, and the kind of work they will be handling. A few even feel that since they have about 3 months of experience, they should not be recruited as trainee writers. In such cases, recruiting freshers is a better option—atleast they have lesser attitude and the experience of the two set of writers is almost similar!

  • Job hoppers

Some experienced writers with 4 years experience may have worked in 3-5 organizations. Now, the question the recruiters have in mind is are they good enough? Why have they been switching jobs so often? Is it because of attitude problem or is it because they were not good performers?

Recruiters have neither the time nor the intention to check why the writers have been job hopping. They rather look out for writers who are looking for a long term commitment. So, some organizations are open to taking in inexperienced technical writers who may be more productive after initial training.

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