If you are interested in hiring a technical writer, it is important to have a few guidelines to follow when conducting your candidate search. If you keep the following guidelines in mind, you might have an easier time finding and evaluating candidates for your freelance technical writer.
Establish Clear Requirements
Decide exactly what you want your writer to do and they type of experience you would like for them to have. Get specific about the types of tools and software you will want them to use. Will they be asked to work with graphics or screen shots? Will they have real subject matter experts to work with, or will they only develop content from design documents or requirements? What type of educational experience do you want them to have? Make sure your job requirements and qualifications are very clear when you post the position. If you’re a manager who doesn’t know exactly what it is that tech writers do, you need to find out before you start your search. How else will you know who meets your requirements?
Review Resumes and Cover Letters for How they are Written
Don’t just look at the resume for skills and experience, take a look at the structure, balance, content and writing in the resume. Is it well written? This is your candidate’s first chance to show you how they approach writing and to showcase some skills. Is the resume concise, simple, and effective?
Ask for Writing Samples
You might not put a lot of stock in writing samples because they are relatively easy to fake and are also hard to evaluate without some context. However, seeing whether or not the writer can produce a sample, and the quality of the sample can still tell you something about the candidate’s outlook on what good documentation looks like. Hopefully, you will also have the opportunity to ask about the writing sample and obtain some context into how or why it was produced.
Give a Writing Test
One of the best way to evaluate a freelance technical writer is to administer a writing test. Provide a poorly structured, badly organized, and badly written piece of documentation and ask the writer to re-structure it. You can also provide a design or product requirement, and ask the writer to produce a user manual or curriculum lesson based on the source. This is the best way to see the writer’s true skills and evaluate his or her writing technique.