Search icon Looking for something?

Dear Viv: Advice for the Discerning Technical Communicator
2009, Q3 (October 01, 2009)
By Viv, Carolina Chapter Member

sticky  note
Advice for communicators

Dear Viv,

I worked as a technical writer many years ago and then quit to take care of my kids. Now I'd like to get back into the field. How do I get my foot in the door when all employers require experience?

Hoping for the best

Dear Hoping for the best,

I have two words for you — get creative! Because you have kids, you probably have developed some creative ways to handle difficult situations. Kids get into all kinds of messes, right? Apply this creativity to your job search. Do you ever wish instructions for setting up your LCD TV were easier to understand? Rewrite them. Include all of the information you think is missing. Reorganize the instructions. Create a quick-start reference. Reformat the instructions to make them easier to read.

How are your computer skills? If they're not so good, take some classes at the local community college. If parents and friends come to you with computer problems, think about writing a Q&A with the most common problems and solutions. Include screen shots and callouts, and print the guide in color.

How about finding a volunteer organization that needs something documented--instructions for training new volunteers or some kind of procedures?

Include these items in a portfolio, and think of other ways to flex your technical writing muscles.

I also strongly encourage you to develop an online presence. Make yourself and your talents known in the technical writing community. Set up a Facebook account and join the STC Carolina group and other groups. Join Linked In to post your resume, build contacts, and join groups related to technical writing. Join Twitter and follow other technical writers. Share anything you find interesting that might benefit other writers. Find amusing, charming, or smart thoughts to tweet. Start blogging. Subscribe to RSS feeds for other technical writer's blogs and frequently post on those blogs.

Last but not least, you will need plenty of support and advice during your job search. Volunteer for the chapter. Write a newsletter article. Come to meetings and get to know other technical writers. Contact the chapter board and figure out what you'd like to do. The chapter always needs enthusiastic volunteers.

All of this work will take some time, but in the long run you'll find it rewarding and fruitful.


Viv can be reached at dearviv at stc-carolina dot org. End of article.

More articles like this...
Comments powered by Disqus.