How to Start a New Technical Writer


Technical writers can be a valuable asset to your team. They often have varying backgrounds, experience, knowledge, and skill sets. But, in order to ensure the success of the new technical writer you hired and the team as a whole, it is important to properly welcome the technical writer into your company.

ProEdit’s staffing experts have provided the following tips to help you smoothly integrate your new technical writer into your team.

Be Prepared

Regardless of whether you’ve hired a permanent or contract technical writer, it is important that you are prepared for this new hire and ensure that all the essential working needs are in place on the first day of work. This includes setting up a dedicated workspace, providing equipment such as a computer and phone, and ensuring that the IT department has set up all required access rights. Before your new technical writer’s start date, prepare a checklist of all the resources that are required for this person to begin work.

Make Introductions

Technical writers are often a lone resource among a larger team of developers or engineers. It is important to make them feel that they are part of the team. On the first day, introduce your new hire to all major players and stakeholders. The technical writer will be expected to interview subject matter experts, and introductions will help to create a smoother relationship. Also, ensure that the technical writer has the information necessary to communicate with the subject matter experts and stakeholders, such as contact information.

Set Expectations

Be sure to set your expectations from the start. This is a crucial step in ensuring the success of any new hire. Outline the technical writer’s daily expectations, types of deliverables, project deadlines, preferred style guides, and any other relevant responsibilities. It is helpful to put these expectations in writing, either in a job description, procedure manual, or other documentation. And, remember to check up on your new hire with status reports or milestone checks.

Paint the Big Picture

Sometimes technical writers are tasked with documenting a portion of a much larger project, but it is important that they see the big picture. Not only do they need to know their role within the project, but they also need to see the end results. Technical writers who understand the end results of a project tend to take more ownership in their work.

Provide a Lifeline

New employees can sometimes feel lost, so it is good practice to provide them with a lifeline until they are acclimated. You may ask them to shadow another employee for a few days or assign them a “buddy” they can go to if they have any questions. The buddy does not have to be another technical writer; choose a veteran employee who will display good work habits and reflect the company’s culture.

At ProEdit, we apply these and other best practices to ensure the success of technical writers within the companies they are placed. If you would like to learn more about hiring and acclimating technical writers, contact us today.

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