Posts with the Tag: Technical Writers
A few years back, when the original source article was written, Wikipedia defined technical writers as “Professional writers who design, create, maintain and update many types of technical documentation, online help, user guides, white papers, design specifications, and other documents.” Since then, the information on the technical writing profession provided through Wikipedia has evolved, much like the profession itself has evolved. We especially enjoy the quote from Kurt Vonnegut, which describes technical writers as:
“..trained to reveal almost nothing about themselves in their writing. This makes them freaks in the world of writers, since almost all of the other ink-stained wretches in that world reveal a lot about themselves to the reader.”
As the task list for which technical writers assume responsibility grows, so does their value to the team. Our previously published article, “How Technical Writers Add Value to Your Team” provided some insight on how technical writers are trained and how they can enhance the usability and value of your products or services. But much has changed since then.
Read How Technical Writers Add Value to your Team and then leave a comment here with your thoughts. As the technical writing profession has evolved, how has the value to the team that tech writers bring to the table increased in your experience?
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
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.)
When you’ve created technical documentation with the help of a skilled writer, you can have a mixture of emotions: relief, excitement, pride, and fear. After you finish any project, you may be happy with the original deliverables, but as in all things technical and non-technical – things change. If you’ve hired a technical writer to help you with documentation and things change in the future, where do you turn?
Many technical writers and technical writing companies offer ongoing support and updates. This allows you to stick with a writer or a service that worked well for you in the past, while also helping you maintain an accurate document.
Before you hire a technical writer find out about:
Luanne Oleas points out: “All the old standards are out the window. We are left with our wits, if we are lucky, and the wiles we’ve developed over the course of our careers. But sometimes, just sometimes, writers can defeat the deadline dragon. You can overcome the overriding fact that you are overwhelmed. ”
So, as an overwhelmed technical writer in today’s global team environment, just how do you do that?
In her article, “Confessions of a Quality Queen: Getting Good Reviews in Bad Times with Remote Teams,” Oleas provides four actionable techniques that technical writers can use to make the most of the time, resources, and energy they have have left. Read the article and then leave a comment here if you have additional ideas for making the most of today’s work environment.
Great technical writers take things one step further than good technical writers. They create documentation that lets users find answers right away, maybe even to questions they hadn’t considered. They find solutions that create a groundbreaking user experience of documentation. They can often be quirky people but they excel when given the latitude to do so; and your product will be improved as a result.
But how can you truly separate the great from the good technical writers? That’s the issue Jacquie Samuels addresses as she suggests 10 qualities you should look for when hiring a technical writer, in her article, Separating Great from Good: How to Hire the Right Technical Writer for the Job.
Read the article and then leave a comment here. Are there additional traits you look for in choosing the right technical writer for the job? Do you disagree with any she lists?
When it comes time to hire technical writers for your team, the easiest part of deciding whom you will hire is likely to be the skill sets you need to get the job done. But beyond specific skill sets, what other barometers can you use to choose the right candidate the first time and what’s the best way to go about it?
Philip Rastocny wrote a great article on this topic that we re-published with permission here quite some time ago. In it, he highlighted 6 considerations that can help those hiring technical writers to make a wise choice. They included:
- Open Mindedness
He points out that, “If you continue to hire people the way you’ve always done it, you’ll likely get what you’ve always got. If you want something else, try a new approach.”
Good advice, we think. Here’s the article:
Considerations for Hiring Technical Writers
What are your thoughts? Would you say these tips apply to making any hiring decision decision and should not be restricted to technical writers? Please leave a comment.
While you might have thought this would be an article on how technical writers might get a date, that’s an article better saved for another site. That said, there are a number of relationships that are important to the technical writer on an ongoing, everyday basis – and they deserve as much attention as other relationships (but with less flirting).
Technical writers should cultivate relationships with:
According to Patrice Fanning, chief executive and founder of Technically Write IT, Ireland might be the next leader in technical writing.
For those looking at the market today, it seems that many countries are positioning themselves for this role, and perhaps Ireland brings up some good points for other countries to consider.
While the battle of the sexes continues, a new revelation might begin another discussion. According to some, women are dominating technical writing, but is this because they’re women…or is it for some other reason? Let’s look at what it takes to create a strong technical writing piece and how that might support this new argument.