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Top 10 who do you hire as a technical writer for the new project? That Will Change Your Life

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Hire a technical writer for your project in 10 steps

Hire a technical writer for your project in 10 steps


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from August 31, 2018

You’re looking to hire a technical writer and wondering where to start. This post deals with hiring a technical writer for your project in 10 practical steps.

1. Understand technical writing

Acquaint yourself with the field of technical writing. No one can be an expert in everything but you should at least understand the field you are attempting to hire from.

According to Tech Whirl:

“Technical writing involves communicating complex information to those who need it to accomplish some task or goal.”

It’s using writing skills to instruct users and provide necessary information so they can benefit from your product or service. It’s often seen as part of customer support, product development or User Experience.

Find out more about technical writing on the website of the Society for Technical Communication.

2. Assess your needs

Define the scope of your project. What sort of service you need? What skills will it take to fulfil the project objectives? When does it need to be completed by?

A complete lack of documentation is going to be harder to fix than editing, formatting, rewriting and adding to existing documentation.

This will require much more input and effort from the technical writer than if you have a pool of documentation that just needs to be brought up to scratch.

3di has a good resource on their website describing when you might need a technical writer.

3. Choose a hiring model

Decide how you want to hire a technical writer – contractor, freelancer, full-time employee, agency. How you hire affects costs and you’ll need to price accordingly. Here’s an excellent blog post on how much technical writing costs.

There are many different types of technical writers and they will also be working on multiple different pricing models.

Technical writers are typically hired as contractors rather than freelancers. This means you would pay them a day rate on a temporary contract for the duration of your project. They may even work on-site for you at your company offices.

If you’re hiring a technical writer for a single project, it’s unlikely you’ll be looking for a full-time member of staff. Perhaps you’re developing a software solution and you’ve realized you need a technical writer on your team temporarily as a contractor.

Hiring someone as a contractor can also help you get a feel for how they will work with you. Then you can consider hiring them on a more permanent basis if it works out well.

Some companies also choose to work with agencies because it seems to offer more assurance that the job will get done on time to a high standard, and the agencies take care of coordination. Pick your agencies wisely.

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4. Look for educational background

The traditional discipline of technical communication is well-established and feeds directly into corporate tech comm. Many technical writers have a background in the field of technical communication study and some of them have a degree – though not all of them. 

Small companies might not need the level of expertise of many expensive senior technical writers. Perhaps you just want someone to write your product documentation and that doesn’t require in-depth knowledge of tech comm.

Do you need your technical writer to have a degree at all? Perhaps you are in the medical field or you need some other kind of specialist knowledge.

The new breed of technical writers may have alternative education and experience. They may be former developers or come from a customer support background. A degree isn’t everything and might not be necessary for your project.

5. Hire for skills and knowledge

Technical writing encompasses many different types of skills. It’s a combination of technical proficiency and communication skills. There are no hard and fast rules of what your technical writer needs to know, but you have to decide if they will be fit for the role you have designed.

One of the biggest skills to look out for when hiring a technical writer is proficiency with Information Architecture. This means being capable of designing the structure of your documentation to fit in with the user journey and enable content discovery.

Copywriting skills could also be important in your documentation. You don’t necessarily want content that is dry and hard to read, so someone with a flair for writing is key.

Decide if you want your technical writer to be more of an editor of the material, or if you want them to be able to write original technical documentation.

In the latter case, they will potentially interview your Subject Matter Experts (these could be engineers or other technical specialists) so you need to make sure they are capable of this task.

6. Think about tooling

Technical writers use a variety of specialist tools. Proficiency with and access to certain tools should inform your hiring decision.

Does your project require experience with help authoring tools such as MadCap Flare or Adobe RoboHelp, publishing tools like Adobe FrameMaker, or be familiar with XML authoring in open systems like DITA? Factor in these costs when hiring someone.

Do you want your technical writer to be able to use technical tools like GitHub and Atom, and be able to take part in your development workflow? Not everyone is familiar with these tools and onboarding will take time to learn.

If your technical writer is writing software documentation for developers then they will probably need some development experience. If they’re writing it for the end user then maybe not. Decide on a case-by-case basis.

7. Review past experience

Look for someone who asks you a lot of questions about your project and has experience in a similar domain to yours. Ask to see their technical writing portfolio.

Contributions to open source can also be a good indicator of the type of work this technical writer is interested in, especially if you’re in the software engineering industry. Take into account all types of experience include paid work, volunteering and open source.

Think about the industry area you are hiring for. Do you work in pharmaceuticals, or do you want to document an API? These all require distinct experience and knowledge.

Look for a person who fits the job description with a portfolio containing relevant examples of past work. Bear in mind that not all projects can be included in a portfolio as they are completed under an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement).

It can be good to ask another company in your industry for any recommendations, or perhaps you can contact a former employee of yours now working in this field.

8. Choose the right job title

Technical writing is a broad field with multiple interpretations for the title “Technical Writer”.

For example, a technical writer could be someone who writes about specialist technical topics such as engineering, or it could be someone who writes instructional content in a wide variety of industry areas.

If you don’t need the content to be particularly specialised, then perhaps you need a content writer. Alternatively, you may need a copywriter or a UX writer.

In all likelihood you need to advertise for a Technical Writer but then elaborate more in the job description. Be as specific and clear as possible, but don’t exclude people from non-traditional backgrounds with excessively high standards.

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9. Use the community

Many technical writer jobs are not advertised. They are posted in communities like the Write the Docs community or the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators.

Follow hashtags on twitter like #writethedocs and #stc. Join online groups like Support Driven and Write the Docs ahead of time so you can easily advertise your jobs when you have an opening. The Write the Docs Slack forum has a jobs channel where you can post.

Of course you can use general jobs boards and recruitment websites, but this is going to widen your pool of applicants. You may end up getting a lot of applications that aren’t really suitable and wading through a lot of fluff.

Ask any of your developers if they know any technical writers, as the development and technical writing communities overlap somewhat.

10. Streamline onboarding

What will your technical writer need to know to get up to speed with your project? Limit their involvement to simple tasks at first to give them a chance to learn about the project. If you can get another team member to coordinate most of their work that will be much faster.

The reason for this is that a freelancer or contractor you hire externally will have a much harder time understanding your processes and finding the information they need. Limit the amount your technical writer has to coordinate and guess about what you might need. Let them do what they are paid to do instead of wading through emails.

Come up with a thorough process for your documentation that you all can follow. Record it in a shared document which can be accessed anytime by the whole team.

Final remarks

It’s your responsibility to design a role for a technical writer, and define the exact skills and experience that would enable your candidate to do the job effectively.

Assess your needs, write a compelling job advert, tap the community and review past experience and portfolios. Give your new technical writer the tools they need to succeed.

Good luck in your search!

Our knowledge base software KnowledgeOwl enables technical writers to publish outstanding documentation. Sign up for a free trial. 

Extra Information About who do you hire as a technical writer for the new project? That You May Find Interested

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Hire a technical writer for your project in 10 steps

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Hiring the Right Technical Writer for the Job

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Hiring Contract Technical Writers - Writing Assistance, Inc.

Hiring Contract Technical Writers – Writing Assistance, Inc.

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Hire technical writer from best 50 in 2021 | Assured quality

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What Kind of Places Employ Technical Writers?

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10 Companies That Hire for Remote Technical Writer Jobs

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Frequently Asked Questions About who do you hire as a technical writer for the new project?

If you have questions that need to be answered about the topic who do you hire as a technical writer for the new project?, then this section may help you solve it.

Is organizational change enabled by IT the most popular type?

Automation is the most prevalent type of IT-enabled organizational change.

Which of the following does the information systems department not perform?

It ‘b>protects business process assets’/b>, which is NOT one of the information system department’s functions.

What are the top two organizational change areas?

The four major areas of organizational change identified by Bateman and Zeithaml are strategy, technology, structure, and people. All four areas are interrelated, and businesses frequently implement changes in the other areas when they attempt to change one area.

Excel is a type of information system.

Excel is a well-known spreadsheet program that divides data into rows and columns that can be changed using formulas, which let the computer perform mathematical operations on the data.

What three categories of information system processes are there?

The three processes that make up an information system—input, processing, and output—are what create the data that an organization needs. Input captures or collects raw data from within the organization or from its external environment.

Which four types of systems are there?

Systems engineering generally recognizes four distinct types of engineered system context: product system, service system, enterprise system, and system of systems.

What three types of software are there?

Software can be divided into three categories: system software, utility software, and application software.

What three components make up system analysis?

Every system essentially has three main parts: input, processing, and output. The various parts of a system are connected to one another and are dependent on one another.

What are the six informational stages?

Human feelings, thoughts, actions, and strategies are incorporated into Kuhlthau’s six stage model of the human information search process (ISP), which he created in 1993. The stages are task initiation, topic selection, exploration, focus formulation, information collection, and search closure.

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