I am new to the world of technical writing and had to accomplish the challenging task of getting a job as a Technical writer with a good organization with all my experience in the IT industry. I went in a strategic way and thankfully things fell in place. So, here I am sharing my experiences with the community.
The three-pronged approach:
We all know the first interface of a job seeker is the résumé and hence its an essential tool that needs attention to detail. I happened to create a decent resume by getting feedback from my friends while I was working on the résumé template and the content. Their comments and suggestions were very helpful in setting aside a good resume. Fortunately this exercise has actually taught me how to create better resumes and I am glad I am able to help two of my close friends to set up their resumes now.
Most of the communication is through emails and hence a message body describing about my professional experience in a nutshell along with the a reason of why I am interested in their profile increased chances of hearing from interested recruiters. So a nicely written cover letter definitely helps.
A job seeker’s destination is mainly job portals, but lets admit they are not your best bet for a Technical writing job. This domain in India largely thrives on referrals as I have noticed and makes professional networking indispensable, but a newcomer needs a different approach in absence of a professional network of friends and colleagues. For me, my presence on the web helped. I am a fairly active user of the professional networks and hence the power of linkedin helped me. A lot of good jobs are posted on linkedin, so don’t undermine its potential, to share you a secret I am where I am because of it :).
Few good places to look for latest jobs directly from companies are:
In my case, to my pleasant surprise the blogs earned me a great deal of help. I never knew when I started personal blogging it could turn to be of interest to professionals. That’s the key these days, the interview patterns are changing as I noticed, it’s not only your knowledge and attitude that will get you through, people have started to show interest in the overall personality of the person they are hiring and somewhere lost values are finding their ground again. I liked Red Hat approach of hiring and I am indeed glad that I am able to be a part of it.
Not to forget, good preparation, a level headed approach and a bit of trust are enough to help you sail through.
It’s quite likely for a Technical writer to work as the sole contributor towards the documentation needs of an organization. I had this recent experience on a work assignment with a Software company in Pune. While my journey of 3-months was smooth as my reporting manager, SMEs, CTO and CEO were very cooperative and understanding and it proved to be a wonderful learning experience. But as a writer it does becomes bumpy as you are the only person with the reins in your hand.
In this scenario, the writer is his own Boss with ample freedom to carry out the tasks. This gets tricky, as you find yourself at sea initially and at the same time the sense of responsibility is huge as you are the single owner of the work. So, in a way you are your guide and mentor simultaneously. A few impressions out of the experience are shared here:
Not a straw of support
Human habits are tough to break and when you are used to discussing work scenarios with your peers you have to fight your way out to break that habit. Be ready to face problems such as choosing the right Tool, or resolving a tool error, finding the best solution to a recent problem, and so on for a task. Nevertheless, one tends to learn more, by self-exploring and trying. Trust that internet is your best friend.
All in One Role
I am a Technical writer but not anymore, now I am the reviewer, editor, self critic all in one. It is impossible to do justice to these roles by the same person. So a simple trick is to pipeline the documents such that the writing, language reviewing and editing of the same document do not follow the same sequence. My sincere apologizes that I just screwed the DDLC.
Discover the Manager in you.
Gone are the days when I had the luxury of a Documentation manager. Now I need to self plan the project, decide the timelines figure out the deliverables, set up the Technical review process with the Teams. Be ready with answers for the reporting head, sometimes to defend and justify your position. A key is to be proactive in reporting the status, pointing out glitches, informing in advance that you may need more time rather than waiting for the final day. Importantly keep the reporting head in loop for the delays that are happening to keep a clear picture.
Some useful suggestions from personal experience:
It’s beyond doubt that working a lone writer one gains many insights and maturity as aTechnical writer, This further builds up confidence to work single-handedly. Initially the trail proves a little difficult to crawl but finally one learns to walk.