How To Become A Technical Writer

How Do I Become A Technical Writer? This is the most frequently asked question, and probably is the most difficult one to answer. The first technical writing job is often hard to get because very often your skills are in demand more than your knowledge. Skill is probably what you lack. You can do certain things to prepare yourself.

Step 1: Gather Information

Try to gather information about the job requirements, skills, processes, etc.

  • Read books on this subject so that you have a good idea about technical writing.
  • Subscribe to online forums and talk to writers who are already in this field.
  • If you feel that you need more preparation, join a technical communication course.

Step 2: Analyze Yourself

Before you start your job search, take some time to check your skills and area of interest. Try to determine the skills you need to acquire to become a technical writer. Analyze yourself, check if you have the skills required for the job, and develop the skills you lack.

Step 3: Create a Writing Sample

Prospective employers often like to see a sample of your technical writing abilities. Creating a sample of your work is not easy if you have not done any documentation project. Try to find a short, badly written manual and rewrite it. Then have both, the original and the rewritten manuals as the proof of your writing and editing abilities. This will also show your interest in this field. Don’t try to fool the interviewers by showing them someone else’s work.

Step 4: Learn Tools

Familiarize yourselves with atleast one word processing or desktop publishing tool. Some employers prefer writers who already know atleast one such application because they feel:

  • That such writers would be more productive.
  • That familiarity with tools is an indicator of the candidates interest in this field.
  • That it saves time and money that goes into training the candidates.

It is really not essential to learn any desktop publishing tool, but knowing something (specially when you are new to the field) does not hurt. It only increases your chance in your job hunt.

Step 5: Create an Error-Free Resume

Create an error-free and impressive resume keeping in mind the requirements of the organization that has advertised for the position. Emphasize your skills (technical, writing, tools, etc.). If you know a software package or if you have a scientific background, give the necessary details in the resume. Also highlight your personal skills!

Step 6: Network

The best way to find a job as a technical writer is through networking.

  • Subscribe to mailing lists as this will not only give you access to information, but also will give you an idea about the organizations that hire writers.
  • Attend meetings or conferences and interact with the writers.
  • Actively participate in discussions (in regional meetings and online forums) and make your presence felt. If you manage to do that, the seniors writers may recommend you for an interview when there is a vacancy in their organization.

As a fresher in this field you are not expected to know everything about the tools and the process. Be confident, speak well, ask intelligent questions, be organized in your thought, answer truthfully and lady luck will surely be with you. If you have decided to pursue technical writing, find out what else it takes, and march ahead with determination.

Persistence, determination, and commitment will make you a winner. This is a general rule that applies to everyone in every walk of life.

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2 Responses

  1. Very useful information with invaluable suggestions and solutions… thanks for taking efforts to write this… 🙂

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