Technical writing is one of those jobs in which you're constantly learning. New tools, new techniques, new methodologies. No one knows it all. That's especially true for the new technical communicator. If you've graduated from a writing and rhetoric course or a technical writing course, you have a pretty good grounding in craft. But you're really only at the base of the mountain. There's still a lot to learn, and if you keep your eyes and ears and mind open then you can quickly pick up what you need to know.
Passion, though, is a funny thing. It's easy to become passionate about something. But the fire of that passion can also be easily dimmed or extinguished, often due to circumstances that are beyond your control. Throughout your career, you'll definitely find your passion waxing and waning. But holding on to that passion and nurturing it will make you a better technical communicator.
So you've just started out as a technical communicator, or you've been on the job for a year or two. And you've decided that maybe, just maybe, technical communication is the career for you and you're in it for the long haul. Now what? Think about the future and how you want your career to develop.
One of the problems I’ve had to combat over the years has been boredom/burnout — that feeling you get either when you’ve been on the same project for too long or a you’re on new project that just feels like exactly what you’ve been working on for years. How do you breath life into work that you’ve done many, many times before?
For future job seekers: Always be prepared. In today’s day and age a layoff can happen to anyone, no matter how secure you may think your job is. That doesn’t mean you should walk around with a cloud of doom over your head but it does mean you should be aware and somewhat prepared if it does. Keep your resume up-to-date and make note of milestones and accomplishments in your current job.
I received the following email from Anna, a literature PhD candidate who is considering changing career paths from teaching into technical writing.
Rule number one for a contractor is to never panic about what happens your first day. First days are naturally chaotic, and often companies are not fully prepared for you. Because contractors are usually brought in to solve a particular problem, the people are anxious to get you started, but companies, especially large ones, are not geared for quick action.
Technical writing is known for high salaries, plenty of technical challenges, and the need to constantly adapt. Here are five ways to rise through the ranks and find success in the industry.
The current industry trend shows that hiring managers are looking for people who can fill more than one critical role. With many programmers, quality-assurance testers, analysts, and consultants taking on technical writing, it will eventually become impossible to sustain a career solely as a technical writer without any hands-on technical or analytical experience. To survive in the ever-changing IT industry, it is essential that technical writers keep honing their skills to avoid becoming dispensable. As the saying goes, it is never too late to learn something new. In this article, we’ll describe some of the proficiencies you should consider acquiring in addition to your technical writing skills.