Technical Writing

Top 5 Tips for Building a Good Technical Writing Portfolio

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In a previous article on creating a technical writing portfolio, we covered the best platforms you can utilize and tips for building a good technical writing portfolio. 

In this article, we would look over the top 5 tips for building a good technical writing portfolio.

Top 5 Tips for Building a Technical Writing Portfolio

Below we are going to explore the top 5 tips for building a good technical writing portfolio.

Your Technical Writing Portfolio is a Marketing Asset

It never occurs to most people that in the job market they are literally marketing themselves.

When we apply for jobs, usually, we would use language such as, “I submitted an application for a technical writing job with Google”, or “I applied for a technical writing job at Amazon”; we don’t say, “I marketed my technical writing skills to Google”.

This language usage creates a smokescreen that blurs the reality that you are in the job market to sell your skills—waiting for a buyer(employer) to purchase them.

Well, what is the significance of thinking from this alternate perspective?

A portfolio builder for tech writers

Confronting reality could be difficult. It is easier on the mind to adopt a narrow perspective of sending in an application for a job/gig. You can easily suppress the thoughts that you are one of many applicants.

With a much-grounded reality (seeing yourself as a jobber selling your skills), it is difficult to ignore the reality that you are one of many applicants, and that succeeding as the successful applicant depends strongly on how you position yourself to win the buyer (employer)  attention—completely.

You must think of your technical writing portfolio as the instrument to help you gain completely the attention of the employer.

LinkedIn being a professional site offers a medium to “spy” on your potential employers:

What technical topics do they care about? (You can check their recent posts/articles or posts they react to)

What are they currently working on in their organization/company? (Yeah, employers do mention this in their posts, especially on their marketing content targeted at their audience)

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The job application page itself could suggest hints of what you should include in your technical portfolio. For instance, an employer could specifically mention the technology they are actively working on. 

Positioning your technical portfolio to include your technical content on these technologies, especially if you have several of them, will be a good marketing move to help you nail the job.

Make it easier to assess your technical writing skills 

This is also one critical area in your technical writing portfolio that would prove your best shot at marketing your technical writing skills.

Have you ever tried putting on the hat of a hiring manager? 

How would you feel sitting before a pile of CVs/Resumes and loads of technical writing portfolios? 

And then, you have to decide on whom to employ before the end of the week?

A daunting task I would think. There is a tendency for bias to find its way in since it is a subjective process based completely on what the hiring manager thinks is best.

Since this can’t be helped, the best solution is to take advantage of the situation. 

A hiring manager would most likely take a liking to a job application that is very easy to assess. They don’t have all the time in the world to sit down with only one application. They can’t afford to. They have deadlines!

Here, you want to demonstrate your ability to “show” over “tell”.

Don’t just say I am an expert in Blockchain technology, include several technical contents that reveal your expertise in Blockchain technology.

Does the job demand proficiency with documentation tools like Sphinx? 

Then, don’t just say you are good at using documentation tools. Package your technical content in a documentation tool.

Don’t just write the number of years of experience you have as a technical writer. I have 10 years of technical writing experience…. blah blah.

It is bland, cliché, and difficult to assess. Unpack it and provide specific references to technical projects you’ve worked on over your years of experience.

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You must remember, the easier it is to assess your application, the more likely you are to win the attention of the hiring manager.

Include only your best Technical Writing content

This cannot be overemphasized. It would violate the first tip (Your Technical Writing Portfolio is a Marketing Asset) to include your technical writing contents that are less than par.

By including only your best technical writing content, you position yourself best to win the job.

It helps you showcase your technical writing skills in the best light possible.

Contentre allows you to split your portfolio into multiple personalized portfolios so that you can create portfolios containing only relevant and important content.

Show Variety 

Technical writers are expected to be experienced in a diverse range of technical topics and technologies.

Your ability to demonstrate this with your technical writing portfolio would prove a strong point, especially when it comes to assessment.

 You make it easier for a hiring manager to assess your technical writing skills when you showcase your technical writing prowess in diverse technologies.

You must understand that demonstrating variety doesn’t just apply to the range of technologies/topics you can write about, depth is also involved.

You must be able to showcase varying levels of depth on a particular technical topic/technology.

Here, I am talking about showcasing technical content on a technology that ranges from a getting started guide to advanced technical content on the technology, as well as thought-leadership content. 

This will help the hiring manager know how deep your experience and expertise are with a  specific technology. This will further enhance their ability to easily assess your technical writing skills.

You also want to demonstrate variety in terms of the types of technical content you can create. The diataxis framework provides a standard on the types of technical content applicable for creating documentation. 

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They are namely: Tutorials, How-to guides, References, and explanations.

Your technical writing portfolio should include technical content written in these formats. Your technical portfolio should contain not only a getting started tutorial on technology.

It should also include how-to guides on specific functionalities of the technology, as well as thought leadership content (Explanation) that reveals your expertise with the technology relative to other similar technologies.

Organization 

It is also important that you keep your technical writing portfolio organized and easy to navigate.

In fact, one of the core skills of a technical writer aside from the ability to communicate complex technical subjects in simple language is also the ability to organize content/knowledge in a way to ensure accessibility and easy navigation.

Then, most documentation tools are built solidly on standard organization formats. Think Stripe three-column documentation format that is now an API documentation standard. 

This is to emphasize how important organization is to the technical writing profession. 

So you must ensure to prioritize organization when building your technical writing portfolio.

Contentre supports this feature out of the box. You can utilize tags and filters to easily categorize and organize your technical writing portfolio to make it accessible and navigable.

Final Words

So that’s it on the top 5 tips for building a good technical writing portfolio. If you found it useful, give a thumbs up in the comment and let us know what tip you found the most useful.

Contentre is a good platform to build one. It was built specifically for technical writers.

Ready to ditch Google Drive? Try Contentre.

Contentre helps technical writers stay organized and gain more clients. Grow your technical writing career in one place.

Now that you’re here, let me briefly recap the most important features Contentre can offer you:

  • Organize your content in categories, topics, and tags
  • Create and manage multiple clients
  • Create and manage multiple personalized portfolios
  • Get statistical analytics of your content revenue, top categories, and tags.

Try it now. It’s free

Temidayo Azeez is a technical writer and content marketer. You can connect with him on LinkedIn

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