Fri Oct 3, 2008
In this rocky economic climate, marketing yourself has never been more crucial if you want to survive the inevitable cutbacks. When it comes to technical writing, it’s a useful exercise to understand and appreciate what companies look for in a writer.
Lyndsey Amott, in an article on her website, stresses that industry knowledge should not be a primary deciding factor when mulling over suitable candidates. Her top three must-haves are:
1. design a document that looks good both on paper and on-line
2. design a document that can be updated easily
3. write instructions that are easy to understand
She goes on to say that the proof of a good writer lies in the way they organize their thoughts and that inexperienced writers shouldn’t necessarily be dismissed.
Technical writing consultant Jean Weber makes some good points in this article. She agrees that the writing is more important than the software or technical expertise. She advises companies to look for problem-solvers who keep digging until they find all the answers. But they should be somebody tactful, not abrasive.
Employers are always concerned with costs and staying on budget. If you can relay the value of creating relevant content in a specific context and to a specific audience, you’re on the right track. Remember that as a technical writer you’re the bridge between subject matter experts and the stakeholders, the marketers, and the end-users. Without you, knowledge could not be channeled into capital gain.
So, if you find your head on the chopping block, start thinking like your employer and ask yourself why they should keep you around. The answer could just save your neck.