If you need to hire a technical writer for an upcoming project, you will likely find that you have many qualified candidates to consider. There are now a variety of sources through which you can find great writers, so finding people for the job shouldn’t be a problem. However, the challenge arises when you start working to narrow down that initial list. To choose the right person for the job, you will need to enter the process with a clear picture of the knowledge and experience that the winning contractor must possess.
Focus on writing
It may seem obvious, but the first thing to look for is someone who can write quality content. Believe it or not, many companies don’t realize this point when hiring a technical writer. A common mistake is to prioritize expertise in a specific field over ability to write. For example, if you are hiring a writer for an engineering-related project, it will be tempting to choose the candidate with the strongest experience in that field. However, if that person is not a great writer, they will waste their time and money. You already have people with engineering skills in your company; you need to hire someone who can bring writing skills to the table. Content can always be edited as needed to correct technical errors related to the field in question; it is much more difficult to check the style or quality of the writing as a whole.
For technical writers, experience gives them the ability to ask the right questions. Asking questions is an important part of being a good writer, because those questions help steer content in the right direction. If you can hire a writer with many years of experience working for a variety of clients, you will already have the knowledge to ask smart questions. Also, experience is the only way to perfect the craft of writing, so someone just starting out in this field may not be able to offer you the same quality as a longtime professional writer.
Samples of course
One of the first things you should do is review the writing samples of all of your candidates. Ask each prospective employee to submit two or three writing samples. Hopefully these will be pieces that are at least someone relevant to the project you need to complete. If a writer can’t offer you at least a couple of good samples, they should raise a red flag that they may not be the right person for the job.
Offer a fair rate
You don’t always ‘get what you pay for’ in life, but you generally get it when it comes to writing. If a specific writer offers to do the job for much less than everyone else you’re considering, there’s probably a reason they’re willing to work for pennies on the dollar. Good writers know they’re worth it, so they stick with their rates. Do a quick market assessment and set a budget that will allow you to hire a quality, experienced technical writer.
Finally, it is always good recruitment practice to contact at least one or two references to learn a little more about the person in question. Did they do a good job for your previous clients or employers? What kind of work did you excel at, and does your writing ability have any weaknesses? Asking a few pointed questions should give you all the information you need to make a great decision.