I was laid off in July because of budget cutbacks. On the last day of work, I received a call from a recruiter asking if I could meet with a client who was convinced that I was the right candidate for the job. To my surprise, the interviewer was an STC member, had read my writing samples, and liked them. I was hired on the spot.
Being an STC member was advantageous, but it wasn’t the only reason I was hired. I also applied what I learned from reading Intercom about adding value and how to improve my skills.
As technical writers, we are expected to learn how to use new tools and technologies in order to write user guides. We should also be savvy users in order to train coworkers so that they too can become savvy users, which is what I always do.
Potential employers contact current and past managers and coworkers. That’s why you should always perform above expectations and make a positive impression with everyone. In my case, a recommendation from a former manager and project manager not only convinced the recruiter that I was the best candidate for the job, but also gave me the leverage to negotiate more money than I was previously earning.
The market has more technical writers than jobs. Earning an STC Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) certification shows your commitment to enhancing your knowledge of the profession. I am studying to take the CPTC exam and said so on my resume. Don’t limit your certification goals to just the CPTC; earn certifications in the domain that you currently work, as well as in areas in which you want to work in the future.
Although potential employers don’t always request writing samples, I always provide them. My writing samples are articles published in Intercom and chapter newsletters. Because non-disclosure agreements prevent me from giving clients’ documents to third parties without their permission, having writing samples from Intercom is invaluable. Interviewers should be suspicious about the ethics of technical writers who violate non-disclosure agreements.
I credit my success as a technical writer (and my new job) to my active involvement in the STC and taking advantage of its professional development opportunities.