Being a technical writer requires a variety of skills, including great writing skills, strong technical skills in other areas, good interviewing and listening skills, and good people, time management, and project management skills. But some great tech writers lack experience with specific software that hiring companies may use in every day production. When adding a technical writer to your team, how strongly should you insist that a candidate have experience with specific software?
The article How Important are Specific Software Skills for a Technical Writer gives some insight on how important it is for a technical writer to learn a specific software tool and also discusses the dilemma hiring managers may face when choosing between a technical writer who has experience with specific software but hasn’t quite mastered it, or someone who lacks the experience but is eager to learn.
Read How Important are Specific Software Skills for a Technical Writer? and then leave a comment here with your thoughts. If you were faced with the choice, would you rather hire the writer who has specific software experience or a different candidate with perhaps better writing and people skills who is willing to learn the software?
Finding the right person that fits exactly into an open Technical Communicator position is difficult, especially if the interviewer or the technical communicator doesn’t have much experience or skill in handling the process. Technical communications professions require a unique mix of technical and communications skills, which can be very hard to find.
In her article, Five Secrets to Successful Interviewing and Hiring, Karen O’Keefe offers five tips with examples that will help you get through the interviewing and hiring process successfully.
- Writing a Detailed Job Description
- Making Sure the Setting/Environment is Conducive
- Conducting a Programmed Interview
- Using Multiple Interviewers
- Considering Testing
Lastly, she explains that there is no method or template that you can apply directly to your department, group, or company, but you can use this process as an example for building and refining your own.
Read Five Secrets to Successful Interviewing and Hiring and then leave a comment here with your thoughts. Do you have additional pointers to offer in finding the right technical communicator for the job?
When hiring a contract technical writer, there are many factors to consider. First, you need to be sure that you’re getting the right one to avoid problems and ensure success.
In his article “Hiring Contract Technical Writers”, Writing Assistance, Inc.’s President, Scott Hartmann, provides insight on what you need to do before you start looking for a contract technical writing professional and how to go about finding one suitable for your project. He provides a list of steps that will help guide you through the process, including preparing a job description, the avenues and resources available to help you find contract writers in lieu of full-time employees, and what to look for in a contract technical writer. He includes a discussion of the contracts and agreements you need once you select a writer and explains other factors to be considered.
Read Hiring Contract Technical Writers and then leave a comment here with your thoughts. Do you have any additional thoughts to share on the steps involved in hiring a contract technical writer?
You’ve looked at your business and you’ve looked at your resources, and while you may need more content for your organization, you also know that you have the time to take it on yourself (or you know someone in your company who has availability). With all of this in mind, you may think you don’t need to outsource your writing.
However, let’s think about this particular situation and how it might actually be perfect for your outsourcing strategy.
If you’re a business owner or you hold a position of authority at your company, you know everything about your business. You know the market, the audience, the challenges and the strategies that work. However, even with all of this knowledge, you may not have stayed up to date with current writing standards or expectations in your industry. There’s no need to worry, however, as you can outsource your writing talent and draw from your writer’s specific knowledge set to create documents that generate results.
If you are considering expanding your documentation group or are hiring one or more technical writers for the first time, what should you look for in candidates? Knowing what to look for before you start interviewing can go a long way to helping you retain the right people for the job.
In his article, Considerations for Hiring Technical Writers, Philip Rastocny, who has served as a technical writer, editor, trainer, IT manager, project manager, and consultant, breaks down key elements to look for to avoid making mistakes in the hiring process.
Read: Considerations for Hiring Technical Writers and then leave a comment below with your thoughts on what you look for when hiring a technical writer.
Related topic: How to Justify Hiring Technical Writers
Writing isn’t as easy as it looks…and that’s why you’re looking outside for help. Though you need to look for the best writer for your needs, you also need to be a client who can get the best from their writer.
This means you need to be prepared.
- Know your project – Before you even begin to hire someone else, determine the exact parameters of your project: what it includes, what it means, and what you expect in the end.
- Know your technical stuff – Collect the technical information the writer will need, or be clear about the knowledge set the writer should have.
When it comes to outsourcing your writing needs, there are often two reasons for taking this route:
- You or your existing employees don’t have the time.
- You or your existing employees don’t have the skill set.
But there’s more to this arrangement than just handing off your writing to a professional. Think about what you want your writing to be:
- Technically sound
- Both? (Would seem ideal.)
With all of the hoopla about hiring writers who will never set foot in your company’s door, you might think technical writers don’t have to travel to work with you.
For the most part, this is often the case. With Skype and other online communication routes, you can manage your technical writer and their tasks virtually.
However, there are times you will need to be face-to-face with your writer.
If your company is doing something different from everyone else, you know you have something special. When your audience begins to respond, and business grows, you may not have the time or the resources to handle your writing on your own. But can you trust someone to come in and help you with your highly specialized, niche business? Absolutely.
The biggest benefit of freelance writers or outsourced contract writers is that they are versatile – and they have to be. Because they’re often working for multiple companies within multiple industries, they are used to learning what a company has to offer and how they can best support their new client.
In addition, outsourced contract writers can help you learn more about the market in which you are growing. While a writer can’t talk about things another company might be doing, they may have a wider vantage point, and thus be able to offer some advice or constructive feedback that can help you refine your position and your strategy.