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What is Technical Writing and How to Hire a Technical Writer?

  • 16 September, 2021
What is Technical Writing and How to Hire a Technical Writer?

Technical writers use their writing skills to simplify complex information into easily digestible information for the regular audience. But when you need to hire a technical writer, you find it difficult to find the right guy because of all the other writers claiming to offer high-quality work.

Although the industry is full to the brim with technical writers, there are some pointers you should keep in mind to declutter the piles of resumes or offers you receive and hire the best talent.

What is Technical Writing?

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Technical writing is a niche of content writing in which the writer has focused writing expertise on technical content, such as manuals, tutorials, and detailed guides. 

This style of writing has a completely different purpose and features than other writing styles such as creative writing, academic writing, or web content writing.

Technical writing continues to be a highly sought-after talent in the business world. From 2014 to 2024, technical writers’ demand is projected to increase by 10%. This is much faster than the national average for all professions.

Uses of Technical Writing

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Technical writing is a nonfiction writing genre that covers not just technical documents such as manuals, instructions, specifications, and software documentation, but also writing generated in regular business activities such as letters, proposals, internal communications, and a variety of reports.

It consists of simple, easy-to-understand explanations and/or instructions on a certain topic and is a quick method to describe what something is and how it works.

Some examples of technical writing include:

  • Technical reports

  • Analytical reports 

  • Instruction manuals

  • Process manuals

  • Policy manuals

  • User manuals

  • Memos

  • User Interface Text

  • Press Releases

  • White Papers & Case Studies

  • Executive Summaries

How to Hire a Technical Writer

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  1. Examine Your Requirements

Establish the project's scope. What kind of service do you require? What skills will be needed to achieve the project's goals? When do you need it finished?

Before you hire a technical writer, talk to clients, do keyword research, and develop comprehensive briefs and plans for your project.

This means that you can set clear expectations for your writer as soon as they begin working with you.

It will be more difficult to rectify a total absence of documentation than it will be to revise, format, rewrite, and add to existing documentation.

Once your writer has proven themselves and has a better understanding of your business, allow them to propose ideas too.

  1. Pick A Hiring Model

Determine whether you want to hire a part-time technical writer online, a full-time employee, or an agency. Your choice will have a great impact on your expenses, therefore you’ll need to set your budget accordingly.

There are different types of technical writers who work on different pricing models.

They are often recruited as freelancers. This means you would pay them a fixed rate for the length of your project on a temporary contract. They may even work for you on-site at your company's headquarters.

If you're searching for a technical writer for a single project, it’s best to hire a part-time technical writer online instead of a full-time employee.

Perhaps you're working on a software solution and have recognized you'll need a freelance technical writer on your team for a while.

Hiring a freelance technical writer is a cost-effective option that also allows you to get a sense of how they will collaborate with you. If things go well, you may want to hire them on a more permanent basis.

  1. Educational Background

Technical communication is a well-established field that flows directly into corporate tech comm. Many technical writers have a background in technical communication studies, and some – but not all – of them have a degree.

Small businesses may not need the expertise of costly technical writers having a degree. Perhaps all you need is someone to create your product documentation, which doesn't require a deep understanding of technical communication.

So, it is not necessary for your technical writer to have a degree. The emerging class of technical writers may have different education and experience. 

They may have previously worked as developers or in customer service. Educational background is highly preferred but not recommended.

  1. Look for Skills and Knowledge

Technical writing entails a wide range of skills. It's a mix of technical know-how and communication abilities. 

When you wish to hire the best technical writer, there are no hard and fast rules for what your writer should know, but you must determine if they are qualified for the position you've created.

When recruiting a technical writer, one of the most important skills to look for is knowledge of information architecture. 

This implies being able to organize your documentation in a way that fits with the user experience and allows for content discovery.

Copywriting skills may be useful in your documents as well. Someone having a passion for writing is essential if you don't want your material to be dry and difficult to read.

Decide if you want your technical writer to be more of a material editor or if you want them to be able to create new technical documentation.

In the latter instance, they may conduct interviews with your subject matter experts (which may include engineers or other technical experts), so be sure they're up to the job.

  1. Consider If the Writer Is Technology Savvy

A number of specialized tools are used by technical writers. Your hiring choice should be based on your writer’s knowledge of and access to specific tools.

Does your project need expertise with writing tools like MadCap Flare or Adobe RoboHelp, publishing tools like Adobe FrameMaker?

Do you want your technical writer to be able to utilize technologies like GitHub and Atom and participate in your development process? People are unfamiliar with sophisticated tools, and learning how to use them takes time.

If your technical writer is creating software documentation for developers, they will almost certainly require some programming knowledge. Make a case-by-case decision.

  1. Evaluate Past Experience

Try to find someone who asks you a lot of questions about your project and who has previous experience working in a comparable field to yours. Inquire about their portfolio of technical writing work.

Consider the industry for which you are hiring. Do you work in the pharmaceutical industry or do you want to document an API? These all require a certain level of expertise and understanding.

Look for a candidate that matches the job description and has a portfolio that includes relevant samples of previous work. Most of the writers have their portfolios updated on freelance marketplaces.

Keep in mind that not all projects may be included in a portfolio since they are done under a nondisclosure agreement (NDA).

It may be beneficial to ask for recommendations from other businesses in your sector.

When you are on the lookout for a technical writer for your project, no matter what industry you belong to, it is crucial to keep these steps in mind.

This guide will help you simplify your search for the right talent, enabling you to hire an affordable technical writer who can deliver you the best quality work.