Hundreds of tips can be found on the Internet on creating appealing resumes. There are some general guidelines and standards to follow regardless of the profession of choice. But, if you want to really impress your employer, you might want to be more creative.
We are trying to help those pursuing a career in technical writing on our blog. In the section called TechComm Career Path one can find a lot of articles on this topic. For example, we have a post on what should be added to a tech writer’s CV. And, we mentioned some writing examples there. In this post, we will dig deeper and try to provide you with clear information on what your potential employer wants to see in your portfolio.
Technical Writer’s Portfolio
Okay, so, we’ve come up with some pieces of advice that you can find useful when working on a portfolio. Portfolios are awesome because they are living proof of your qualification and professionalism, and we highly recommend you get yourself one of those.
- Your technical writing portfolio should include only materials connected to documentation writing.
It is often so that those who chose documentation authoring as their occupation are interested in writing in general: movie and game reviews, short stories, poems, novels, anything, really. Such texts are of no interest to your employer — they can give only some limited vague ideas regarding your ability to structure things logically and that’s it.
- If you currently don’t have any real technical documentation abstracts you could use as an example, look for other texts you’ve written that can be classified as ‘documentation’.
Most of us have some experience with writing documentation while we are not aware of this. For example, job reports you’ve written or even some college papers that fit into the general criteria of what technical writing is — clear structured formal texts.
- If you can’t think of any real documentation created by you (the kind we’ve mentioned above), write it now!
Job search is not a quick process, and you need to be prepared for this. And, while you are looking for the right job offer, you might as well start creating documentation. For example, you can volunteer for some organization that requires instructions or reports written.
- If you have real experience in technical writing, don’t be afraid to show it off!
You can easily add about 10 examples of your work if they represent different tech writing tasks — newsletter articles, video tutorials, how-to articles, user guides, online help files, etc.
- Double-check every piece of work you are adding.
Make sure there are no typos or grammar mistakes in the examples you provide. The mere fact of you adding some technical documentation abstracts written by you doesn’t mean much, it is the quality that counts. Re-reading some older work is very useful — you might decide not to include it at all 🙂
- Provide a brief description for each piece of writing you provide in the portfolio.
This is done mostly for the employer’s convenience. Your task is to help them easily navigate through the data you are providing. Nobody wants to waste their time trying to make some sense out of a bunch of random text files. Besides, creating a short introduction/guide for your portfolio will once more prove your technical writing skills as it is a ‘user guide’ in itself.
- In case you are aiming at project management, don’t forget to mention relatable skills.
To lead a help authoring project, one requires management skills/experience. So, don’t forget to mention that in your CV. If you would like to back up your words with something more real, you can add examples of your work, namely, the metrics you applied to evaluate documentation project quality/doc team efficiency to your portfolio.
Your portfolio is a sure way to make a good first impression when applying for a job. How good of an impression it will be, depends mostly on the amount of work you are willing to put in. A technical writer’s portfolio can become solid proof that its owner is a real pro who is also a very diligent person because, after all, you did a great job creating such a remarkable portfolio, and that really speaks for itself.
Good luck with your technical writing!
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