If you're a software engineer looking for a career change, you may be surprised to learn that your skills can translate well into technical writing. With a few key steps, you can leverage your expertise to become a technical writer and enjoy a new career change.
Understand the Role of a Technical Writer
I've been writing for almost two years on this blog, but I can say that technical blogging differs from technical writing.
Blogging is a style of writing that allows you to express your voice and unique perspective. Bloggers usually use words such as "I", "You", and "We" to make the reading more engaging. You can feel the presence, voice and style of the writer.
With technical writing, instead, there's no voice involved. It's purely instructional. The main goals of technical writing are:
To break down complex concepts into simple words.
To guide the user to accomplish a task.
To show the user in learning how to use a product.
Technical writers must have excellent writing, editing, and proofreading skills, as well as a strong understanding of technical concepts and the ability to communicate these concepts effectively to a non-technical audience. [CareerExplorer]
If you're a software engineer, you have likely come across technical information when downloading software applications, learning a new framework, a new language, etc.
Develop your writing skills
Excelling as a software engineer doesn't translate into being a great writer.
In my experience, most software engineers cannot stand writing at all.
If you're interested in making the transition, start writing.
Find opportunities in your current workplace to create documentation.
Start a blog where you explain technical concepts.
Do some freelance work.
If you think you're bad at writing, don't worry. Writing is a skill that anyone can develop with enough practice and patience.
Read already existing technical documentation to get a sense of the style and tone used in the industry.
I haven't taken any writing courses so far, but you may consider getting one if you need it.
Build a portfolio of technical writing samples
If you want to transition from software engineering to technical writing, you must show you can do the job.
Employers want to see your ability to write crystal clear and concise documentation.
Identify projects or tasks in your current role that involve creating a step-by-step process.
Ask your manager if you can do more tasks to build your experience.
You can also consider writing documentation for open-source projects or non-profit organizations to gain further experience.
Ensure you keep a portfolio of all the experience acquired so you don't lose track of it.
Network and apply for technical writing jobs
Once you have built your portfolio and feel confident in your technical writing skills, you can start networking and applying for technical writing jobs.
Take advantage of LinkedIn (the best tool for professional networking), attend career fairs, and ask current or former colleagues.
You can also attend industry events and conferences to meet potential employers and learn more about the field.
When applying for jobs, tailor your resume for each company, and highlight the opportunities where you created technical documentation.
Don't feel discouraged if you don't land your dream job immediately - keep building your portfolio and networking. Eventually, the right opportunity will come along.
Now that you've read this blog, you know how to go from being a software engineer to a technical writer.
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Until next time!