10 things we (and you can) look for in a Technical Writer

Below, we share our criteria for qualifying a Technical Writer, and deciding they can produce accurate instructions your customers will love, by your deadline.

  1. They live within easy driving distance to your offices, subject-matter experts, developers, and lab—so they can see, use, and understand your product.
  2. They have business experience describing your technology, to your type of reader, in your market space.
  3. They wrote documents similar to what you need–and they can send us writing samples.
  4. Their writing samples resemble what you need for your readers, such as:
    • API guides for programmers, covering either Java, .NET, Python, or other code
    • Instructions with schematics or wiring diagrams
    • Internal policies and procedures
    • Bids and proposals
    • Instructions with illustrations and photos of pumps or other types of industrial machines
    • White papers, articles
  5. Their samples contain task-based headings describing actions the reader wants to DO, followed by short, direct numbered steps. They do NOT write long paragraphs and pages of text. They do NOT describe the components of a software app or machine. The samples show only directions for how to do things with the product.
  6. Their instructions contain active–not passive verbs (see our blog The Killer Be`s). They do not write: It will be backed up or, the hose is checked or, it will be reviewed.
  7. They have used FrameMaker, RoboHelp, InDesign, SharePoint and other tools tech writers use. Knowing these tools indicates that they have worked in a Technical Publications Department at a high-tech company. That tells us that they have learned the very unique style of writing that good tech writers know how to do.
  8. They have a sweet, flexible, pleasant personality. They seem smart, quick, and have a sense of humor.
  9. They have a B.S. or B.A. college degree. We require this because otherwise, they do not know correct English grammar and punctuation, which makes your company look dumb.
  10. Their resume shows that companies have kept them (as a contractor or staff/permanent employee) for long periods of time. We do not place writers who no one has kept around for very long.