For hiring managers, assessing the candidates for technical academic writing jobs is tricky. It’s like solving a puzzle where you’re looking for that one puzzle piece out of a pile that fits perfectly into the structure. It may even seem tougher than breaking down the Enigma code of the Nazis.
While these professionals, it’s vital for recruiters to recognise that technical writers need to possess a right blend of technical and communication skills. That means they need to have previous knowledge or experience in the specific industry. Otherwise, they need to be provided adequate time to learn about the products, equipments, device, or system before writing about it.
To provide a bit more clarity on how to assess candidates for technical writing jobs in your organisation, I have prepared a brief guide. Let’s dive in.
Skills to look for when hiring technical writers
1. Writing skill
This one’s a no-brainer. Technical writers essentially need to be great writers first. The primary requirement of technical writing is the clarity of the text. This can be achieved by someone who knows how to write and how to present the most complicated ideas in simple words.
A good writer usually just knows these things, feels when to use this or that construction, which words suit best, etc.
2. Research skills
Research is all about finding information through reliable sources. A candidate must be able to critically review the information in front of them, and determine what’s worth incorporating in their writing. Research is the process to audit what they already know, present an accurate picture of a product, and spot the gaps intheir knowledge.
The candidate must be able to assign the right amount of importance to the different types of data they encounter.
3. Design Skills
High-quality design is an important aspect of effective technical documentation. Clear structure, convenient navigation, highlighting vital information, images, screenshots — all these elements make a user read the documentation gladly.
However, it’s not sufficient to just incorporate a screenshot to a topic. It needs skills and knowledge of different tools since they have to add some visual elements to those screenshots like highlighting, arrows and so on.
4. Ability to solve problems
Problem solving means rather than giving up when experiencing difficulty; you become ever more determined to seek a solution to the problem.
Solving problems are an essential part of the technical writer’s role. If technical writers find a problem, they must be able to document it. It’s vital for the technical writers to be able to predict the potential problems for users and provide a solution in their documentation.
5. The ability to empathise
Empathy is your capacity to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and consider what it’slike to be them. It is one of the most vital skills for a technical assignment writer to have.
The candidate must be able to use his/her empathetic abilities while writing. The job of a technical writer is to serve as a bridge between users and the rest of the organisation. So, it’s important for the candidates to break away from the biases or prejudices to accept someone else’s perspective. They need to be really empathetic and consider what it’s like to be a user or consumer with specific issues.
Questions to ponder over when hiring the candidates
- Is the candidate innovative and resourceful to create an original and creative concept?
Read through the portfolio and writing samples of the candidates you’re considering. This way, you’ll be able to evaluate their ability to develop a relevant and coherent document out of an otherwise mystifying collection of information. See if the candidate is able to follow a byzantine set of instructions while creating content and do so in a compelling manner.
- Does the technical writer demonstrate the ability or desire to adapt?
After screening the technical essay writing portfolio, you need to consider whether the technical writer has a style that resonates with you or the vision for your company. Have a discussion with the candidate to know is he/she has the aptitude do adapt according to the demands of the job. A skilled technical writer is like a chameleon; he/she adapts, changes and acclimates to the needs of his/her client.
- Does the technical writer have the desire to learn new skills?
The candidate you hire should be curious about the world at large and should be willing to learn new things. This skill allows him/her the ability to readily absorb your company’s technical information and then convey it simply, clearly and succinctly.
By reading the sample write-ups and the companies that have employed him, you can perfectly get an idea of his proficiencies and the quality of his work. Technical writers who have the habit of challenging themselves, in business and personally, are more likely to produce meaningful content for your organisation.
- Does the candidate have great communication skills (both written and verbal)?
The candidate must communicate effectively on various levels and with different groups of people. They should possess the ability to extract technical information from the “experts” and the skill to convert that information into a coherent piece of write-up. Having solid communication skill will enable the candidate to create the documentation you need that shares the details you desire with the audience you are trying to cater to.
- Is the candidate logical and organised?
Even though good grammar skills are important, his/her ability to organise materials precisely and logically is a lot more critical in serving the needs of your customers and your organisation. User-friendly documentation develops customer satisfaction which affects the bottom line of business.
So, when viewing the portfolio of the candidate, check whether the information presented is concise and easy to read or not.
I do hope these insights would make it easier for you to find that puzzle piece that fits perfectly. Your quest for finding a suitable technical writer would depend on how well you use these insights while evaluating the candidates.