How to Build a Technical Writing Portfolio

Posted by
Anastasia in Education on 1/9/20194 min read

Man building a technical writing portfolio

Hundreds of tips can be found on the Internet on creating appealing resumes. There are some general guidelines and standards to follow regardless of the profession of choice. But, if you want to really impress your interviewer, you might want to be more creative.

We are trying to help those pursuing a career in technical writing on our blog. In the section called TechComm Career Path one can find a lot of articles on this topic. For example, we have a post on what should be added to a tech writer's CV. And, we mentioned some writing examples there. In this post, we will dig deeper and try to provide you with clear information on what your potential employer wants to see in your portfolio.

Technical Writer's Portfolio

Okay, so, we've come up with some pieces of advice that you can find useful when working on a portfolio. Portfolios are awesome because they are living proof of your qualification and professionalism, and we highly recommend you get yourself one of those.

  • Your technical writing portfolio should include only materials connected to documentation writing.

It is often so that those who chose documentation authoring as their occupation are interested in writing in general: movie and game reviews, short stories, poems, novels, anything, really. Such texts are of no interest to your employer - they can give only some limited vague ideas regarding your ability to structure things logically and that's it. If you include such samples in your portfolio, it’s not likely they could drive your potential employer to send you an invitation for a job interview.

A team congratulates a new member

  • If you currently don’t have any real technical documentation abstracts you could use as an example, look for other texts you’ve written that can be classified as ‘documentation’.

You can write some documentation about products you know and own or volunteer for some organization that requires instructions or reports written. Another option is to write documentation for startups that don't yet have official technical writers. Some open-source projects might want user documentation for free. Anyway, most of us have some experience writing documentation, while we are not even aware of this. For example, job reports you've written or even some college papers that fit into the general criteria of what technical writing is - clear structured formal texts.

  • If you have real experience in technical writing, don't be afraid to show it off!

You can always select some samples for a technical writing portfolio from past work if you've already had any. Here, don't forget to ask your former employer's consent to do that. Companies often protect their internal documentation, and it may be illegal to send it to a third party without permission. Another way is to redact the samples you choose to protect your former employer's sensitive information.

It's better to pick samples from different work areas - production, engineering, maintenance, etc., and those representing various tech writing tasks - newsletter articles, release notes, how-to articles, user guides, online help files, and so on. The point here is to cover a variety of formats and writing situations. It will help you show your versatility and ability to use the right language. A user guide, for instance, is a standard technical document everyone knows. A sample release note and installation guide are essential in the high-tech software-hardware industry. So it's a good idea to include one in your portfolio. If you don't have previous job experience, think of writing some content from scratch.

  • Double-check every piece of work you are adding.

Make sure there are no typos or grammar mistakes in the examples you provide. The mere fact of you adding some technical documentation abstracts written by you doesn't mean much, it is the quality that counts. Re-reading some older work is very useful - you might decide not to include it at all :)

  • Provide a brief description for each piece of writing you provide in the portfolio.

This is done mostly for the employer's convenience. Your task is to help them easily navigate through the data you are providing. Nobody wants to waste their time trying to make some sense out of a bunch of random text files. Besides, creating a short introduction/guide for your portfolio will once more prove your technical writing skills as it is a 'user guide’ in itself.

  • In case you are aiming at project management, don't forget to mention relatable skills.

To lead a help authoring project, one requires management skills/experience. So, don't forget to mention that in your CV. If you would like to back up your words with something more real, you can add examples of your work, namely, the metrics you applied to evaluate documentation project quality/doc team efficiency to your portfolio. Looking for a job do not forget to use specialized services and platforms to save time and effort.

Conclusion

Handshake

Your portfolio is a sure way to make a good first impression when applying for a job. When it is ready, the next step is to make it accessible to your future employers. Make it available online. Here you can find some ideas on portfolio hosting for technical writers.

So, a technical writer's portfolio is the key. It can become solid proof its owner is a real pro and can make up for years of experience.

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

 

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