This page offers tips and information on how to find a tech comm job. Use these links to access different sections of this page:
Preparing for a Job Search
Ask yourself if you’re a good fit
- Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This handbook describes what technical writers do, how to become one, what compensation you can expect, and the employment outlook for this role.
- Take a career evaluation test to find out what type of technical communicator job best meets your personality characteristics.
- Learn how to find technical communication jobs and training through California’s Educational Development Department.
Research and read job postings
Job postings can provide insight into the skills and experience employers seek. STC San Diego reposts tech comm jobs on its social media channels:
- STC San Diego LinkedIn group
- Slack channel
- @STCSoCal Twitter account
- Job Boards page
Update your resume
Your resume provides a snapshot of your skills and experience—it’s critical that you create the best resume possible.
- Make sure your resume is up-to-date/current and free of grammatical errors.
- Ensure your resume reflects the position for which you’re applying.
- Create an easy-to-follow format. Use short bullet points instead of long sentences or paragraphs.
- Ask someone you trust to read your resume and provide candid feedback.
- As part of your interview preparation, review your resume and be prepared to respond to questions about it.
- Get your resume reviewed.
Tips on how to get that interview and avoid the Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
Assemble your portfolio
Organize your portfolio by the tools with which you have experience. For example, place your FrameMaker and Word files in separate folders. Be sure that your portfolio files from previous companies have been approved for distribution. Do not share work for which you have signed an NDA (non-disclosure agreement).
Update your LinkedIn profile
Hiring managers search for prospective candidates on LinkedIn. A great LinkedIn profile provides information not included in your resume, such as the completion of relevant coursework, writing samples showing your ability to create content, and your experience with various tools. LinkedIn also offers a feature where you can include recommendations from colleagues.
- Make sure your profile is up-to-date.
- Get your LinkedIn profile reviewed.
- Meet us at our next chapter meeting.
- Chat with us on LinkedIn, Slack, or Twitter.
- Check out our Job Seeker Resources.
- Find an unadvertised job through networking.
Applying for a Job
Your job application will likely include the following items:
- Cover letter
Cover letters share with the hiring manager what you know about the company and what you can offer the role. Cover letters also help you stand out from similarly-experienced applicants. The cover letter offers the opportunity to include information that is not on your resume.
- LinkedIn profile
Phone or video screen
Hiring managers use this method for screening short-listed candidates. The phone screen call often comes from a member of the company’s HR department. The goal of the phone screen is to verify aspects of your resume and see if you are the person you sold on paper.
Expect hiring managers to ask questions about your professional history, your current position and activities, your goals, your length of time at past companies, your proficiency with tools, and your salary expectations.
If the hiring manager is interested in you after the phone screen, you will be invited to a face-to-face interview.
You can expect to meet with your hiring manager for at least one interview, and you may meet your potential colleagues in a panel interview. Some companies may also ask you to take one or more proficiency tests.
Prepare for your interview by researching the company. Be able to explain why you can do the advertised job. You will also need to prove that you are a cultural fit. Expect behavioral questions, such as how you would respond to particular situations.
Speak with enthusiasm and confidence. Be concise and to the point. Avoid “ums”, “ahs” and “you knows”. Equally important is your body language. Relax, sit erect, remain aware of your posture, avoid fidgeting and make eye contact.
Face-to-face interviews may also be conducted via a video conferencing application, such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
It is often easier to get a job while you are working. Being employed creates a level of confidence with some employers. Work part-time, even if it is only peripherally related to what you want to do.
If you’re not working, volunteer for a relevant project that enables you to gain experience, create a portfolio piece, network, and garner recommendations for your LinkedIn page. Including your volunteering on your resume can help you fill in employment gaps. Volunteer for STC San Diego.
Invest in yourself. Read online job postings on LinkedIn, Monster, and Indeed to determine the tools, skills, and experience that are most in demand. Take a class and get a certification. Completing classes and certifications demonstrate your dedication to developing new skills as well as help you keep up on your existing skills.
If you lack on-the-job experience using a particular tool but have a certification for that tool, some employers may consider this to be enough experience. Consider also creating a job sample for your portfolio using that tool. You can showcase this self-assigned deliverable during an interview. It’s often possible to get a free trial for a tool—use that tool’s free trial to make your portfolio piece.
Network as much a possible before you need a job. Just like keeping your resume up to date, keep up on your networking. Make the effort to join and participate on LinkedIn. Connect with people who could help you—or to whom you could offer help. Re-introduce yourself to past acquaintances and ask former co-workers and supervisors to recommend you.
Collect metrics on how your job makes a difference
Employers want to hear how you helped generate a tangible benefit, especially where the bottom line is concerned. For example, “My documentation was credited with reducing support call volumes by x per cent.” Identifying a specific ability, for example, the ability to lower tech support costs or free up time engineering time, create an effective argument to help you obtain or keep a job.
Watch what you post on social networks
Prospective employers have been known to check candidates’ Facebook and Instagram pages.
Contribute to forums and blogs
Your online writing makes you findable and could be a potential selling point for a prospective employer.
Think outside the box
Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities. Are the test plans at your current position poorly written? Is someone keystroke-testing the user guides? Think of how your skills can enhance your current position, make you more valuable to the organization, and bring you possible future opportunities.
Prepare a 30-second “elevator speech”
Be able to explain what it is that you do and what you are looking for within a 30-second pitch.
Interview “outside the box”
If your experience and background are not precisely what the employer is looking for—or you lack a particular skill set—highlight your other capabilities and provide an explanation of how the skills you do possess complement the role. If you are especially interested in a position, offer to take training on your own time so that in x number of weeks, you’ll be the resource the employer needs.
Conduct informational interviews—approach people through LinkedIn, STC San Diego, or other networking opportunities and ask them about who they are hiring and why. Ask open-ended questions, i.e., “What,” “How,” and “How come” questions and offer information about yourself and what you’re looking for.
Address the “overqualified” issue straight on
Employers may be reluctant to hire you because they fear you might leave if something better came along or that you might be dissatisfied in a lesser position than you are capable of. If you believe this could be true of you, don’t give up, but proceed with caution.
For example, to increase your chances of landing the job, you might be tempted to say that you have always wanted to work for XYZ Corporation, or that you would be excited to work for the company in any capacity. Instead, build a compelling case for the job at hand. Tell the employer that you want to make an investment in the company. Be prepared to describe the qualifications you will bring which might benefit the company in the longer term.
Avoid completely changing fields in a down economy
Put a different perspective on the career you already have. Consider pivoting, rather than changing fields entirely.
Apply to academic environments
Apply for jobs at local educational institutions including universities and community colleges.
Contact companies that need editing help
Many companies today publish formal communications, such as posters and other documents, that are full of spelling and grammatical errors. When you find those errors, make corrections, and reach out to those companies to share your editing expertise.
Resources—Links and Blogs
- Ask The Headhunter
This website, “The insider’s edge on job search and hiring,” offers a wealth of information on job hunting, interview tips, FAQs, and industry expert advice. Nick Corcodilos, author of Ask The Headhunter books, provides a sensible approach to job-hunting and information that will help you stand out from other applicants.
- Knock ’em Dead
Knock ‘em Dead is a series of books by Martin Yate, CPC. These books cover resume and cover letter writing, job searching, and interview questions.
- 5 Tips to a Great Skype Interview
It is becoming common for companies to conduct job interviews via Skype, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom. Online interviews are fast, easy, and very inexpensive—and they also enable you to apply for remote positions. But because you are online using your computer and a camera, it can be a tad uncomfortable the first time.
- Smart Resume Risks
Here’s the thing about following common sense resume advice: it’s too common. And it’s what everyone else is doing. If you follow “common sense,” your resume will end up uninteresting, ignored, and completely forgotten. Because of this, sometimes it’s better to take a risk. At the same time, be smart about it.
- Tailor your Resume to the Job
Learn how to match and highlight your skills to the job’s requirements.
- Complete Guide to Writing a Student Resume
Identify key skills from jobs or projects outside your professional goals.
- How to Make a Resume–The Only Guide You Need
What to include, what to exclude.
- How to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile to Get More Jobs
Useful information on creating a persona, using keywords, making the most of the experience section, skills, and endorsements.