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9 technical writer resume writing tips
Use these strategies to shape your resume and land your perfect job.
Technical writing actually covers a number of writing jobs. Employers want to find a candidate with the right kind of skills and experience. The main technical writer specialties are:
- End-user documentation: product manuals, user guides, tutorials. Writers that specialize in end-user documents write to bridge the gap between the specialist and the layperson.
- Academic: case studies, grants, research papers, white papers. Academic writers produce high-level material for fellow specialists, administrators, and companies involved in certain forms of research and development.
- Medical: magazine articles, training manuals, and medication and medical device guidelines. Medical writers produce necessary internal documents and material designed to help laypeople use medical products appropriately.
- Technology and science: articles on innovations and products in various scientific disciplines. There’s often overlap between technology writing and end-user documentation.
- Corporate: onboarding documents, training materials, human resources guidelines. The technical writing for a corporation is mostly internal — unlike the more external marketing.
Make your specialty clear by highlighting your specific certifications, relevant educational background, and past projects. Where appropriate, use discipline-specific jargon. If your contracts allow, you can also provide sample work.
2. Revise your resume for each new application.
It’s a good idea to keep a master list of all potentially relevant experience and skills. Just don’t include everything on any one application that you send out. Nor do you want to create and send a wishy-washy, generic resume.
Read job listings carefully, and then edit each new application to focus on the skills and experience they mention. Match language exactly. You don’t want an ATS to miss something because you used a synonym rather than the listing’s own term.
3. Get to the point
Both good technical writing and good resumes are concise. You need to communicate your qualifications efficiently. Keep your resume to a single page.
4. Include relevant side projects
The keyword is “relevant.” But side projects — such as a blog on health care topics — can fill out your portfolio. If you’re newer to the field, you can gain the necessary experience and qualifications by blogging in your spare time.
5. Link to your portfolio
Even if some of your work is protected, you should put together a website with other samples of your writing. People who list writing jobs will often request samples or links to a personal site. Be proactive: Include your website with your other contact information on your resume.
6. Justify your claims with numbers
Facts and figures lend you credibility. Provide numbers regarding your rate of production or impact. Quantifying your accomplishments helps set you apart from other applicants.
7. Vary sentence structure and word choice
Your resume is short. It doesn’t bode well for your writing skills if your reader is bored before they reach the end. Keep prose zippy by changing up the wording. But don’t get lost in poetic flights of fancy.
8. Highlight deliverables
Sure, you may have served as your previous company’s go-to punctuation expert. But the heart of technical writing is high-quality material produced on a tight schedule. Prove that you can get the job done with speed and style.
9. Edit and proofread the final product.
If you’re advertising yourself as a writer, you really can’t afford careless writing errors. It’s always important to have a polished final resume, but even more so when you’re a technical writer. You don’t want to give the impression that you’ll need your own copy editor.