TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
"I am a recent graduate in technical communication (B.S.). I have been
working as a web designer / technical writer at a non-profit for two years
as a co-op, but now it's time for a "real job."
Best suggestions I can think of:
1. Focus on your skills in software documentation. If you have not taken
basic programming classes (C++, Java, etc.), it will really help to do so.
Understanding object oriented programming is a big plus, too. The reasons
are not quite what others on this list may think. The fastest growing field
for technical documentation is web services, and the conversion of existing
corporate docs into XML.
2. Realize that current openings routinely get hundreds of application. You
need to stand out. You also need the right buzzwords, indicating
proficiency. XML is big, so is web services. I assume that if you have a
tech comm BS you are already proficient with RoboHELP and FrameMaker?
3. Web design skills are great, but HTML is a given. You might lean on your
ability to create online content, rather than webpages--many hiring managers
don't realize there is a difference. Since you know HTML, pick up as much
XML as you can, as fast as you can.
4. Learn about databases, and database management. You will be working for
businesses, businesses keep their records in databases, and often need
people to interface. SQL proficiency and a knowledge of basic database
design concepts are something any serious tech writer should have, and that
goes doubly for those trying to break in to the field. Writing docs for
videogames is not a big source of jobs--writing docs for business
5. Mention proficiency with Microsoft Office, especially Excel and Access.
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