Building a Technical Writing Portfolio
To start your career in technical writing, you should have a set of skills and a great portfolio. If you don’t know what skills you must have, read this article: 11 Skills of a Good Technical Writer. But not only the skills help people start working as technical writers, portfolio will also help you interest a potential employer and succeed in tech writing.
Collect Samples of Your Best Work
Gather samples of your best work. Your goal is to interest your future employer and demonstrate how experienced you are. Include samples of different industries. If you have been working in only one industry, divide your samples by categories. For example, user guides, release notes and reference manuals.
If you have management experience, your portfolio may include samples of quality measurements, projects and other reports that will prove your skills.
If you’re a beginner and don’t have experience at all, start your own techcomm blog because it’ll make you learn more and constantly grow and develop as a professional:
“If you want to be successful, start a blog on technical communication and contribute to it regularly. Doing so will force you to read, ponder, and apply principles of tech comm to your everyday activities. It will keep you engaged and relevant. And it will make your job more interactive and fun, since you will see opportunities to analyze and reflect on the stories that happen to you everyday in the workplace.”
~Tom Johnson, Technical Writer at Amazon Lab126
Print Samples Wisely
Are you used to print everything just click the Print button? It’s time to change your habit. In order to demonstrate your competencies, print your samples out on double sided paper. It will show your employer that you value paper and ink. Printing double sided helps to hide the empty spots in your portfolio.
Such portfolio will look heavy, that will help you make an impression as an experienced and confident technical writer. Your portfolio should not contain pages with small projects. If it’s possible, combine them in a big one.
If the employer asks you to send your portfolio, make sure that it’ll be legal and you’ll not violate the contract that you signed previously. As you know, some industries protect their internal documentation and it’ll be unprofessional to send documents to a third party. So, in this case, explain that you can show your portfolio only in person.
Make your portfolio easy for searching for information- make tabs for each category of your portfolio. But even tabs should look like professionally, don’t make them colorful or handwritten.
Use Portfolio to Proof Your Experience
During your interview don’t just give your portfolio to the employer. You should tell about your previous projects, your experience and use the portfolio to highlight your success in technical writing.
Develop Your Portfolio
Even if you got the desired job, do not forget about your portfolio. Add new successful projects because your portfolio is a reflection of your experience.
If you’re really interested in improving your technical writing skills, I think you’ll find this article useful.
What are your principles of building a good portfolio?