How should I start a tech writing career?

Many people ask me what should be their first steps if they want to start a tech writing career. There are actually many things you can do before applying for your first tech writing position. Whether you complete all of them or just a few depends, for example, on how much time you have. In this article, I present a couple of steps you can take once you have decided that you want to become a tech writer.

Step 1: Complete some technical writing courses

You can go through free Google courses that will give you a general understanding of tech writing:

Step 2: Practice technical writing

An important step is to ensure if this is really something that you want to do every day. A good way to do so is to write instructions for a piece of software, for example, a desktop app, a mobile app, or even a website.

Choose an action that the user can perform in this application and describe it step-by-step. Before you start writing the instruction, play around with this functionality and try to identify any problems the user might encounter.

If you enjoy this task and you see yourself performing it 8 hours a day, then a technical career is probably a great career path for you. Additionally, you may use this instruction as sample writing when applying for a job.

For more detailed information on how to get the most out of this step, check out this article about writing great technical instructions.

Step 3: Assess your skills and expand them if needed

Look through some job offers and identify areas where you could still learn something before applying.

Typically, in job offers the following technologies or applications appear: HTML, CSS, Markdown, Git or SVN, and Madcap Flare. However, I don’t think it’s a must to know all this. I always recommend completing a course in HTML, because it doesn’t take a lot of time and can be really helpful in your daily tasks. It’s also a good idea to have a basic understanding of what is UX and testing (both are an important part of a tech writer’s job). You can read a couple of articles, take a course, or watch some videos on YouTube.

Stay tuned for an upcoming article where I’ll provide some detailed examples of courses, websites, and videos 😊.

Step 4: Write a resume

At this point, you should be aware of how your past experiences and acquired skills can help you in your technical writing career. Use this knowledge to create a great resume.

Step 5: Update your LinkedIn profile

Nowadays LinkedIn is an extremely powerful recruitment tool. Don’t forget about it when you prepare for your tech writing career.

You can use similar strategies to the ones you used when writing a CV.

Stay tuned for an upcoming article on how to take care of your LinkedIn profile.

Step 6: Apply for a tech writing job

Don’t wait too long with applying for a tech writer’s position – even if you don’t succeed at your first interview, it can provide you with valuable insight into your current skills and knowledge.

Remember that before you apply, read as much as you can about the company and the product(s) they offer. This will be a great asset during the interview and the question “What do you know about our company?” is quite popular.

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