An accomplished technical writer is one who has mastered the vital skills needed to make just about anyone understand and use any product that demands some technical expertise, regardless of their technological intellect.
If you are looking forward to improving your resume to apply for a technical writer, it is imperative that you master the necessary skills.
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Skills Required to be a Technical Writer
Here is a list of skills that you must master and add to your CV if you wish to outshine the competition and secure your dream job –
1. Art of Usability and Testing
One of the primary responsibilities of a technical writer is to bring to light the implicit knowledge about a product design or its features.
One of the simplest methods to do this is to form easy-to-understand scenarios that the product users might encounter while operating the product.
Because of this, many manufacturers and software developers request technical writers to use and test their products first before writing help manuals as-well-as other documentation.
Sometimes, you may be asked to side with the user experience team to authenticate if the product indeed works the way the company designed it to work.
You must devise a list of features that work appropriately and a different list for the ones that performed inadequately. Sometimes, all features of a product may work appropriately, but the user interface could be inferior.
Be sure to mention this acquired skill in your CV, as this will imply that you have decent hands-on experience with products.
2. Art of Using Help Authoring Tools
A skilled technical writer must have the skills to use at least one help authoring tool efficiently. Help authoring tools simplify the technical writing process and streamline the publishing of documentation in different formats.
Some of these tools, such as HelpNDoc, are free for personal use and can generate various content formats that include HTML, PDF, CHM help files, Word, iPhone websites, Qt help files, ePubs, and Kindle eBooks.
There are several options for publishing documentations, and when choosing the appropriate format, you must pay attention to the targeted readers specifically before picking a printed or screen user manual.
With such overwhelming competition in the field of technical writing because of increased demand, you must obtain the necessary technical writing certification to stay ahead of the crowd.
3. Art of conducting research
Proper research lays the foundation for every decent technical documentation. Therefore, developing a quality help manual might be the wisest investment a developer makes.
Most times, the virtue of the documentation is never better compared to the quality of the research. Therefore, researching every facet of your topic with precision lays the foundation for writing exceptional documentation.
Having the skills to conduct meticulous research on any topic thrown at your way will make you stand apart and give you an edge over your competitors.
4. Art of Interviewing SMEs
When you encounter a new technical writing project, you will require all the information accessible, and the manufacturers will provide it to you; however, they might not always communicate it proficiently.
Thus at some point, you might have to propose questions to extract the relevant knowledge needed from Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).
One of the best methods of inquiring about these questions is to conduct an interview. However, interviewing to obtain all the vital intelligence you desire can prove challenging if you lack the skills of interviewing SMEs.
There exist three fundamental phases of interviewing SMEs –
- Preparing for the interview
Conducting some background investigation on the topic that you wish to document is the first crucial step. Next, it is imperative to research the previous activities of SMEs related to your current project.
This step will give you a rational understanding of how to approach these experts and ways to frame your interviews to extract the vital points you need.
The next stage is preparing your interview questions. You can start with the information collected during the research. This stage will streamline it for you to build a logical outline for all your questions.
For instance, journalists follow the approach of 5Ws and 1H (Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How). When you have prepared all your questions, schedule the interview, and set a time convenient for the interviewee as-well-as for you.
- Conducting the Interview
You must not keep the interviewee waiting and begin at the scheduled time while adhering to the time limit. Start your interview with light questions to relax the interviewee.
Sometimes, you might have to conduct the interview numerous times to obtain all the vital details that you need. Emphasize the main topic throughout the interview and steer clear of distractions.
- Extracting Key Points
When you get back at your desk after wrapping up the interview, play the recorded conversation to list the key points, and summarize them.
Carefully analyze the extracted information and corroborate if it encompasses the information you need to write your documentation.
If the information is not adequate, you might have to interview numerous other SMEs or other technical writers to find the precise answers you need.
5. Art of Writing in a Concise Fashion
As a technical writer, you must master the skill of communicating complex notions, scenarios, situations in a straightforward, precise, and concise fashion.
You must never underrate the knowledge or the level of exposure to your target audience. Always tailor your content to match your audience’s level of expectation and average expertise.
If you deliver low-quality content, your target audience will immediately notice the shortcomings. If you include a lot of tech terms and jargon, people will seemingly lose interest.
The advancement of the internet in the last few decades has increased the implementation of technology in many businesses at their core.
Since the rapid evolution of technology, technical writers must continually update their knowledge and skills regarding the latest software, tools, designs, platforms, and many more.
Moreover, technical writers must now master diverse skills with the launch of new technology to remain ahead of the packs.
The skills mentioned above are the most significant ones expected to be present in all technical writers regardless of their fields.