At this moment, college seniors across the country are feverishly searching job boards, mass-emailing resumes, and frantically calling everyone within a 50 mile radius looking for the ever elusive, feared mythical, entry-level job. For aspiring technical writers, this fight seems harder than most. Full-time writing positions require years of experience and even technical backgrounds to be considered. Emerging technical writers are stuck in the cycle of “no job because no experience because no job” (in my opinion, the closest we get to the 5th circle of hell). Which begs the question: how do you get out of it? Here are a few things to remember during your search.
1. You have experience
The wonderful thing about technical writing is that the skills involved come from basic activities most college students have experience with: writing, using Microsoft Word, and researching. Step back and recall internships, summer jobs, and volunteer activities, and frame them in the sense of technical writing. Did you write up a flier? What software did you use? How did you gather information? All of these things can be complied and claimed as experience. Don’t sell yourself short from lack of a 9 to 5 position on your resume.
2. You have connections
Many students start their hunt on online job boards. While a large number of positions can be found there, many go through filters of some sort which weed out applicants based on keywords. This can be fruitless for students who are new to candidate screening technologies. Instead, reach out to your existing network. Summer job and internship supervisors are the obvious first choice. In fact, many graduating students may receive offers from their internships (so be sure to keep in touch!). Beyond that, friends, family, and even professors can be your connections to the right position. Friends who held internships or positions in your field of interest can help you connect. Family members and professors who know your work ethic and skills can recommend you to their colleagues. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them and see what they can offer.
3. The jobs may be elsewhere
Technical writings jobs tend to peak around metropolitan areas, particularly ones that are technologically savvy. New York and San Francisco are good locations with an abundance of technical writer positions. Washington, D.C. has a consistent need for Government contract work. Odds are that small, rural areas will not have much to offer in comparison. Consider whether you are willing to relocate for the position or if location is ultimately more important to you. Try searching job boards without a location in mind and see where it takes you.
4. Internships come first
At the end of the day, there is no better exposure than an internship with a company you like doing a job you would like to do. As I mentioned in point 2, internships can be the gateway to a full-time position within a company. Think of it as a trial period of sorts. Paid or unpaid, be sure to vocalize your interest with the company from the start. If, at the very worst, you do not get a full-time position at the end, you now have more experience (point 1) and more connections (point 2) to bolster your resume and find a similar opportunity.
5. Be patient and persistent
Always remember that you will only be as successful as you are diligent. Many people wait months, even years to get a job that they want. You are only at the start. Keep moving forward and you will find the right position sooner rather than later.
About the Author
Greta Boller is a technical writer located in the Washington, D.C. area. For more information, please visit her bio page.