In any business, a technical writer can enhance your communications, both printed and online, and make sure that they reflect your best thinking and best practices.
A skilled technical writer understands audience, both internal and external, and the way content and format work together to improve communication, productivity, and effectiveness for your staff and clients.
Technical writers’ deliverables range from business reports, user guides, engineering plans, proposals, and procedures to online help systems, websites, databases, mobile apps, videos, and multimedia products.
Hiring a technical writer is the same as hiring any qualified professional. The first step is to assess your needs. For example, the job might require:
After you establish your requirements, you can write a job description.
If you need someone who can write for a specialized or technical audience, look for a candidate who is knowledgeable about a particular field or can learn new subjects quickly.
If your audience is entry-level, look for a writer who can explain complex information in simple terms that a lay person can understand.
If your job requires knowledge of specific software (such as MadCap Flare, DITA, or Adobe FrameMaker), say so, but don’t focus only on a candidate’s knowledge of tools. Look for a demonstrated ability to learn new applications.
Start with our free job posting service to reach local STC members.
Look up qualified candidates and post positions on popular job-oriented websites such as:
A résumé and cover letter serve as important screening tools for any position, and they’re especially important for technical writers. They provide your first glimpse of the candidate’s ability to communicate clearly and effectively. We recommend weeding out any that contain errors or are unclear.
After you narrow down the list of applicants, ask the candidates to bring samples of their work to the interview. Discuss:
If the candidate’s samples don’t give you a clear impression of their skills, try asking them to rewrite a few pages of one of your own company’s documents.
If you need someone with specialized knowledge, a technical vocabulary test can help determine the candidate’s level of expertise.
Depending on the writer’s education, experience, and technical background, salaries can range from $50,000 per year for a junior writer to more than $100,000 for a senior writer.
Contractor rates in the Lower Mainland can vary from $50 to $130 per hour or more, depending on the type and length of contract.
Need more help? You might want to:
Parts of this article are based on a web page first published by STC Canada West Coast in June 2013.
Heather Sommerville is a senior technical writer and editor with over 20 years of experience delivering clear, concise writing for business and technical audiences. She is an STC Associate Fellow and has served in many volunteer positions with the STC Canada West Coast chapter.