Hire the Right Technical Writer for Your Team
As new e-learning platforms, web applications, and business startups continue to emerge, the demand for technical writers, content writers and copywriting has never been higher.
Interestingly enough, some companies are now realizing that formal full-time tech writers are needed to tackle increasing workloads of technical documentation, rather than freelancers. Consequently, these companies are setting out to find strong candidates to fill their technical writing jobs.
So, where do you start?
In the following article, we will discuss some of the essential qualities to look for in a candidate’s portfolio when hiring a technical writer. In addition, we will suggest a couple of questions intended to demonstrate the writer’s ability to accept criticism and think critically.
Traits to Look for When Considering a Technical Writer’s Portfolio
If there’s one way to get a feel for a tech writer’s capabilities and project management, it’s through their portfolio. A writer’s portfolio will typically showcase samples of technical documents, white papers, and content creation that they’ve constructed throughout their career. These writing samples will demonstrate specific skills and traits that the candidate incorporates into their writing. A few traits to look out for are:
Technical Content – Do they produce high-quality work and stick to the subject matter?
One of the most important elements of technical writing, or any writing for that matter, is the ability of the writer to remain on topic. For instance, when we purchase a new desktop computer we expect the included instruction manual to inform us about that computer, and only that computer. In addition, the writer should demonstrate a style of writing that is both informative and easy to understand. If that user manual included with our new computer is too complicated or provides inaccurate information, then chances are that our computer won’t be set up properly.
Proofreading – Does the writer demonstrate strong writing skills?
Now, while this may be one of the more obvious qualities to look for, it’s no less important. Reading an article with one grammatical error after the other leaves the reader both confused and uninterested. Therefore, exceptional grammar and punctuation are a must when hiring a technical writing team member. Whether it’s a tutorial or the FAQs on your company’s website, each piece of writing should display the same sense of professionalism that your company strives to achieve.
Adaptability – Are they able to seamlessly “shift gears” from one topic to another?
Due to the nature of the job, technical writers can often go from writing a user guide one day to social media posts the next, making adaptability an essential skill to look for when considering a candidate’s portfolio.
Years of Experience – Does their resume show a strong history of technical writing?
Education and work experience can be a strong indicator of a potential candidate’s knowledge and work ethic within the technical writing field. However, it’s important to note that with the increasing demand for technical writers there are many younger inexperienced writers who may be a good fit for your company. So, it’s important to consider each of these traits when assessing a candidate’s technical writing ability.
2 Questions to Ask a Potential Technical Writing Candidate
It can sometimes be tricky coming up with interview questions when you hire technical writers since we learn so much about a writer through their portfolio. However, there are a couple of questions with answers that aren’t so apparent in a writer’s portfolio. Consequently, we must ask:
How do you handle criticism?
Whether it’s for business writing or content writing, constructive criticism is a crucial tool as it gives the writer direct feedback in the areas of their writing that are working well and other areas that may have room for improvement. However, criticism isn’t always received well by writers. Some writers feel as though it’s condescending to their writing. Therefore, asking about how a candidate handles constructive criticism can be a telltale sign of whether they will be a good fit for your company.
Would you consider yourself a critical thinker?
Oftentimes technical writers have to research and comprehend information about a given company or industry and use this information to construct a blog or article that incorporates the optimization of SEO strategies and content marketing techniques to attract readers. Hence, for technical writers to be proficient at their job, they must possess the ability to think critically.
It’s our hope that this article provided you with some valuable qualities and questions to consider when hiring a technical writer. By searching for these qualities in the candidate’s portfolio and asking these questions about critical thinking and constructive criticism, we believe that you’ll hire a proficient tech writer in no time.