Recently, I was interviewed and asked what defines success as a technical writer. I mulled over the question for a bit, wrote a draft or two, and found myself completely stuck. Despite it being a goal of mine, I couldn’t put pen to paper. What does a successful technical writer look like? How can we define it?
Without scouring the internet for very long, you will find a million and one postings on how to land your dream job. Advice on how to fix your resume, what interview questions to expect, and what you should wear can be found anywhere. This two-part piece, however, is written to help you find your technical writing dream job and determine if your job prospect is a prince or a frog.
You’re on the job hunt and scrolling through job board after job board. You know what kind of technical writing position you’re looking for. But, do you know what shouldn’t be there?
As technical writers, we fight to answer the tough questions and dare to share that knowledge with others. However, no question seems as difficult to answer as the ever popular: “What do you do?” It creeps up on us at dinner parties and family gatherings. It slips off the tongues of acquaintances, first dates, and colleagues. In a moment of panic, we pause. Soon, we’re blathering on about user manuals and policies before recognizing the blank stares back at us. We quiet down, deflect the question back, and try to come up with the correct answer in our minds.
In documentation, titles and the roles they play are of vital importance. They become the authorities, managers, and users on which the entire document is based. And yet, we seem unable to define ourselves in the same way. Whether it’s a moment of reflection, or an answer to someone’s question, we must be able to define our roles to be good technical writers.