From Sales to Tech Writing- why changing career was good for my mid-life crisis
Four years ago, in my early 30s, I decided to take a stand for myself. Since my first job, right after graduation, I was working either in Business Development (sales)or Customer Services. Things had to change though, as I was dragging myself to work and needed an immense amount of motivation to sell anything to anyone. If I felt the products I was selling or servicing weren’t really going to help my clients, I couldn’t bring myself to make the pitch. Instead, during my sales calls, I would rather listen to people, understand their pain points and make a note of their feedback.
I would then go back and check with my managers to see if we could partner with more relevant publishers (at PR Newswire), or perhaps make more customized stay packages and banquet layouts (at Taj Group of Hotels). One boss even told me “Focus on selling. Don’t get into product development”. Look at the irony now. I have left sales and now I am involved in developing products.
When I made the switch, it was purely out of a passion for writing and acknowledging the fact that selling wasn’t something that I enjoyed doing. However, you can make a conscious decision by first evaluating what you are good at and which skills you can develop. After 4 years of writing product documents and UX microcopies, today I do understand how I survived so long in my previous role and why I am doing well in my current job. It is purely because I am a good listener, a total empath and I do strive to make things right for ‘everyone’. I am especially more vocal about things and people who are underrepresented. That helped me develop a good relationship with my clients and they trusted me.
P.S: I also have a nice smile and I write engaging emails.
For four years now, I am in the field of content writing for products and technology. I usually go by the title- Tech Writer, but I do more than what my title says. Traditionally, tech writers would prepare technical documents like API docs, user guides and help set up the knowledge base for the company. However, as companies started realizing the importance of having a dedicated resource for writing UI copies, a lot of tech writers have taken up UX writing roles too, especially in smaller organizations and start-ups.
I write for the entire PDT (Product, Design and Technology) and the fact that I do not come from a technical background gives me an edge. You see, most of my colleagues do come from a technical background and they tend to assume things. I pick up what they miss out on. Since I come from a place where I had to sell products and services to clients by first studying what they would need, my focus still remains on how the end-customer or end-user is going to perceive things. I am tuned that way and I feel nice to represent them; whether it is during a UAT or whether I am designing content.
How has my career progressed so far? (as of 26th June 2021)
Initially, I did what a tech writer is required to do. Got familiarized with the products and started documenting how they function. In a couple of months, I realized that whatever I was documenting wasn’t reaching the people who needed it. So I set up a communication process. Also, I used to first report to our technology head and work with the product managers, but then I was officially transferred to the product team and things started getting more exciting.
I was asked to do UX writing for our products and by far, it has been the most challenging and fun thing I have ever done in my career. (You can read more about my thoughts on UX writing here.) Then I led a project to set up our company’s knowledge base. My current project requires me to work with our HR and marketing teams to position our company as the best product & food tech start-up to work in India. It has been over a month and we have already shown visible results on LinkedIn.
You might be wondering, “Why so many roles?”
Start-ups are usually the best place to learn and experience new challenges. The environment is fast-paced and demands are dynamic. Getting an opportunity like this early in my writing career has only helped me in my professional growth.
As a writer, when you get deeply involved with the product and work closely with the people working to build it, you become an ideal fit to be included in the content strategy and content design projects of the company. Also, I feel these 4 qualities — Empathy, Curiosity, People Management and Eye for Detail — also play a major role in elevating a tech writer’s role in a rapidly growing start-up.
Things have worked out well for me. I don’t drag myself to work anymore and being in the wrong career is not one of the problems I am currently dealing with. So, if you are at that stage where you are contemplating your career choice, it wouldn’t be a bad decision to make a career switch in your 30’s or anytime later. It just takes a little courage and trust in your abilities.
Personal and professional lives are the best teachers; they put us through various experiences and force us to develop certain skills. No matter where you are and what you do, you will find a way to use these skills resourcefully and to your advantage.