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How to Find a Good Technical Writer

Posted by
Anastasia in TechComm Career Path on 6/8/20183 min read

Contract

Hiring a new person is always exciting and a little scary. We are often spending more time with our colleagues than we do with our family. So, ideally, we need to find a good specialist which is already the tricky part in itself, and, this person should also be not too terrible to be around in the working environment. In this article, we will explain how to make the right choice and find a perfect addition to your documentation team.

Wishful Thinking

Wishful Thinking

Okay, so, you’ve decided to hire a technical writer. First and foremost, remember, you are hiring a real person with their own attitude to work, personal characteristics and mindset. Our CVs always look great, well, they are meant to! But you never know what parts of it are true, and it is very hard to figure this out. Still, there are certain things you can do.

Pay attention to details, like, is the candidate late for any of the interviews? How precisely do they follow the task instructions? Are they polite? Also, a recommendation letter from a previous place of employment is great.

Another good idea would be starting an employee referral program to encourage your current employees to bring people they know to the company. This way, you will be able to get first-hand information about the candidate.

Skillset

Now, let’s try to figure out what you should look for in a technical writer skill-wise. It is necessary to mention that education matters, too. There’s no University of Technical Writing, but, still, it is possible to name at least several majors that fit this position better. These are: journalism, linguistics, anything language-related, really. Or, education can coincide with specifics of your technical documentation. So, for example, IT companies often hire tech writers majoring in IT, etc.

Moving on. A tech writer should be able to create structured content. So, logic would be the quality to look for. Another important skill is the ability to work with help authoring tools. Although, be mindful that, if the candidate is not very experienced, you might need to allocate resources to teach the new team member some tools. If your staff is growing steadily, it is great to make up a simple process for new employees mentoring.

A tech writer’s job, actually, can require a lot of skills, some might be quite unexpected. Check out this article called ‘11 Skills of a Good Technical Writer’ to know what to look for in a potential new hire.

Job Interview

Job Interview

A job interview of a technical writer is unlikely to go down the path of ‘sell me this pen’. In order to get to the actual interview the candidate should prove their worth first. So, it is common practice to divide the interview into two stages. The first one should check how good the candidate is with words. The task could be as simple as: ‘Create an instruction for a computer mouse’. Or, any object/device for that matter. This task will immediately show you how the candidate can put thoughts into words. The main criteria of a good user manual are: it should be clear, concise and well-structured. Also, grammatically correct.

If the candidate passes this task successfully - they can move to the second part, the actual job interview, where you sit down together to talk about their experience, skills, possible scope of responsibilities (a lot of people, who never did tech writing before, can be surprised. Not everyone understands what technical writers really do, salary, etc.

Conclusion

Looking for a new employee can really stress you out. But don’t fret :) Try using our advice multiplied by common sense, and you will succeed.

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

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