TCUK – The how, when, where and what

By Derek Cooper

(Reprinted with kind permission from the January 2019 edition of InfoPlus, ISTC’s free monthly online newsletter for scientific and technical communicators.)

Happy New Year from the TCUK organising team.

We’ve been busy with the early stages of planning for TCUK 2019 – the tenth anniversary of TCUK in its current form – and later in this article I want to tell you about it.

green logo of the TCUK conference 2019

But first, I want to give you a brief insight into what planning our conference involves, to help you understand the compromises we have to make, how those compromises affect your experience of TCUK, and how we fine-tune them to give you the best experience we can achieve.

Venue selection criteria

The criteria we apply when we choose a venue include (but are not limited to) a series of important requirements:

  • The venue must include syndicate rooms for the three presentation streams, with the ability to combine two of them for keynote speeches. The third room should be close to the other two.
  • Sponsors of the conference must have a suitable, large area where they can network easily with delegates during the conference and in the evenings. Ideally that area should also provide space for refreshments served between presentations.
  • Restaurant food must conform to a high standard, and must provide a good choice for delegates including those with special dietary requirements.
  • It must be possible to combine syndicate rooms for the Gala Dinner.
  • There must be bar areas where attendees can network and relax in the evening.
  • There must be sufficient bedrooms available for the expected number of attendees, and those bedrooms must be clean and comfortable, and must be within the same building as the conference facilities.
  • Access for disabled delegates must be supported fully by the venue design and facilities.
  • The venue location must be reasonably easy to find and must be within reasonable distance of transport links including major roads, rail, and international airport links. Ideally it should also be reasonably close to a city, town or other location where attendees can sample the local amenities.
  • There must be sufficient complimentary parking space for attendees who drive to the venue.

Naturally, it must be available for the full week of the conference. Autumn is a popular season for conferences, and we are finding it increasingly difficult to find a conference venue that meets our criteria and that is available for one of the weeks we specify.

Hotels that support these requirements invariably also provide other facilities such as a leisure pool and gym, but these are not part of our search criteria. If they exist at the hotel (which they usually do), then they are a bonus that delegates can enjoy.

Inevitably, there are compromises involved, because all this has to be affordable for delegates, many of whom pay for their own attendance or who have to justify the cost of attendance to employers. Locations that are within major cities, or are close to major airports, are usually too expensive.

TCUK 2019

So, what have we decided for TCUK 2019 which, as I have already mentioned, is the tenth anniversary of the conference in its current form?

We’ve identified a venue, a date, and a theme:


Our venue for TCUK 2019 is the Chesford Grange Hotel, near Kenilworth in Warwickshire.

This is a location that meets or exceeds all of our requirements, and that also meets most of the “nice to have” features too. The hotel is located in a rural area close to the town of Warwick in central England. This is in the heart of Shakespeare country, and there are some wonderful visitor attractions nearby including the stunning Warwick Castle.


The conference dates for your diary are from 10 to 12 September 2019. This is a week earlier than the earliest week we usually reserve for the conference during September, and this has been forced on us by restricted availability.


And for the theme – our title for TCUK 2019 is simply “10”.

This title – prompted by the tenth anniversary – is deliberately enigmatic. You can use your imagination and interpret it in a number of ways, for example:

  • Ten years – the past, the future.
  • Ten things you have learned during the past decade.
  • Ten Commandments of technical communication.
  • We’ve deliberately presented the theme title in figures in case you might interpret it as a different number base – binary 10 might lead you to explore the impact of digital technology on technical communication.

The choice is yours – these are just suggestions. We offer a prize for the most innovative and imaginative interpretation of the theme.

As usual, we will also be looking for off-theme submissions from presenters who have something to say that doesn’t fall within the formal theme context.

Timetable and deadlines

We will be publishing the timetable and deadlines early in January. Note that the earlier date of the conference will affect these timescales.

Please refer to the social media channels for further news of the conference details. I’ll also include updates in future issues of InfoPlus.

TCUK 2019 Sponsor – Syncro Soft SRL

Oxygen provides a comprehensive suite of XML authoring, developing, publishing, and collaboration tools. The products are designed to accommodate a large variety of users, ranging from non-technical users to XML experts, and integrates all the major XML-based technologies (including DITA). They are available on multiple platforms (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris, etc.) and in various different forms (as a desktop application, Eclipse plugin, or browser-based tool).

The suite of products include:

• Oxygen XML Editor: All-in-one comprehensive XML authoring, publishing, and developing tool
• Oxygen XML Author: User-friendly, visual XML authoring and publishing tool
• Oxygen XML Web Author: Intuitive XML editing and reviewing tool in any modern web browser
• Oxygen XML Developer: Industry-leading tool for designing XML Schema and transformation pipelines
• Oxygen WebHelp: Convenient, interactive tool for publishing DITA and DocBook content on the web
• Oxygen PDF Chemistry: Attractive PDF output from HTML or DITA through simple CSS styling
• Oxygen Content Fusion – Easy to use, flexible collaboration platform for any type of documentation workflow

TCUK 2019 Sponsor – MadCap Software

Logo for MadCap Software

We Develop Innovative Software Solutions Backed with World-class Technical Support

MadCap Software was formed in 2005 by industry veterans with decades of experience in the technical communication and documentation industries, with the objective to develop great products backed with world-class technical support.

Today, MadCap Software is a trusted resource for thousands of companies around the globe for single-source, multi-channel authoring and publishing solutions designed for technical communication, knowledge management and content development. From authoring, publishing and translation, to cloud-based project and content management, to contribution and review in the cloud, you can streamline content delivery and manage the entire content development lifecycle with MadCap Software.

TCUK18 Speaker Cecily Roberts – How to win followers & influence people: Tech comm lessons from writing about novels

Cecily Roberts will be giving a presentation at TCUK18 on “How to win followers & influence people: Tech comm lessons from writing about novels”.

Photo of Cecily Roberts

  • Do you create content for corporate social media?
  • Are you writing stealth marketing for a web audience?
  • Are you frustrated by colleagues saying “It’s all just writing”?

I will explain what I’ve learned about creating engaging web content for a diverse and unexpected audience.

  • How a personal reading log evolved into 700 reviews, pastiches, and essays, with thousands of active followers.
  • How I’ve selectively grown my audience and encouraged participation.
  • How technical and non-technical writing help each other.
  • How to reach the right people, in the right way – and enjoy it.

It’s not “all just writing”. Context is all.

Cecily Roberts

In real life, Cecily is a child of bibliophiles who has raised another.

She fell into technical communication, but has happily stayed for more than 25 years. She writes software user guides and help, but is increasingly involved with online content.

In virtual life, Cecily writes about books. In ten years, she’s published over 700 articles and discussed them with thousands. Her motives, audience, subjects, and style have evolved. She’s also written her first short story since school, which won the ISTC 2018 competition.

Her literary writing is very different from her work-related writing, but she’s increasingly conscious of symbiosis.

TCUK18 Speaker Holli Hamilton – Call to Action! How tech writers can improve UX (workshop)

Holli Hamilton will be giving a TCUK18 workshop on “Call to Action! How tech writers can improve UX”.

Photo of Holli Hamilton

As tech writers, we’re often one of the first non-engineers to interact with a new system. We have to find the ins and outs of it, to document those trials for our customers. When those ins and outs become a tangled web of check boxes and popups, then a tech writer has a choice: we can document around the issue or we can put on our designer hats and submit an improvement proposal.

In this workshop, Holli will provide exercises and examples that show how a novice (like her) at User Experience can provide feedback to help improve the customer’s journey and their impression of your company’s products. Delegates coming to this workshop will require a laptop connected to the internet to interact with example sites. The content surrounds software and websites as products but the theories can hopefully be applied to technical writers working in other industries.


Holli is currently the sole technical writer for Corero Network Security. She has been a technical writer for over 6 years and came into the field from a Fine Art background. While that may seem odd at first glance, she believes that they share the core values of communication, information absorption, and understanding your audience. She loves nothing more than the unity of these disciplines in a perfectly functional diagram.

Outside of work, she is currently renovating her first home and enjoys frustrating her husband with the amount of pinterest ideas you can cram into a single room.

TCUK18 Speaker Karla Reis – Increasing User Assistance Visibility

Karla Reis will be giving a presentation at TCUK18 on “Increasing User Assistance Visibility”.

Photo of Karla Reis

This presentation is about a project that aimed at making it easier for customers to consume our content; and thus boosting technical writers visibility and standing with internal stakeholders. We wanted a data-driven approach rather than working on assumptions, so we started with customer research, and then piloted our findings.

The results of this project were so impressive that they transformed our stakeholders into advocates for our cause, and who are now willing to voice their belief that good user assistance is beneficial not only to users but to the company as a whole.

About Karla Reis

I am a technical writer who lives and works in Brazil. For the last seven years, I have been developing user assistance for Brazil-localized software at SAP. I am passionate about user experience and about using social media to get closer to users.

I graduated in Languages Portuguese/English and worked as a translator for five years, before joining SAP.

TCUK18 Speaker Ferry Vermeulen – Using Text, Images and Video in Technical Communication

Ferry Vermeulen will be giving a presentation at TCUK18 on “Using Text, Images and Video in Technical Communication”.

Photo of Ferry Vermeulen

The Company you may want to work for is trying to give its audience the best product experience in the world. As a technical writer, you want to contribute to that effort by creating awesome content for that product. There are many great tools out there that can help you to achieve this. These tools include text editors, and graphic and video tools. But how do you decide when to use text, images, or video for your product assistance? Join this presentation to help guide you make the best choices.

About Ferry Vermeulen

Ferry Vermeulen is director at INSTRKTIV. INSTRKTIV helps brands to create compliant and user-friendly user instructions. Ferry has travelled to over 50 countries. It is his aim to visit all countries, meanwhile sorting out how product safety regulation is organized across the world. Also read his User Manual Template Case Study, about how to create compliant user manuals for the EU.

TCUK18 Speaker Matt Pierce – Effective & Engaging: The Key to Making Better Videos

Matt Pierce will be giving a presentation at TCUK18 on “Effective & Engaging: The Key to Making Better Videos”.

Photo of Matt Pierce

Video is taking on an important role in technical communication and is becoming a preferred medium for instructions, documentation, and communication. How can we ensure that our informational and instructional content videos will meet our goals, needs, and the expectations of our viewers? TechSmith conducted studies in the US, UK, and Germany with video viewers to shed light on questions like the ideal length of video, the importance of information placement and making content findable. We’ll explore the results from a creators’ point of view, translating data-driven insights into video design principles taking the viewers’ behaviors and expectations into account.

About Matt Pierce

Matthew Pierce, Learning & Video Ambassador from TechSmith Corporation, has created videos for learning and marketing for over a decade. Matthew has been a speaker at multiple learning and development focused and marketing conferences. He is a regular contributor to Training Magazine, and has been author for Content Marketing Institute, ReelSEO, and various other training publications. He currently leads TechSmith’s customer education initiative around video.

TCUK 2019 Sponsor – Edissero

Logo for Edissero

Edissero has been a specialist recruiter of technical communicators since 2003, helping many different companies and organisations, from blue chips to technology start-ups, find the best technical communicators for their technical and business information needs. We help companies in the UK and Europe recruit permanent and contract, full-time and part-time technical authors (from graduates and juniors to expert-level), documentation managers, content strategists, knowledgebase managers, eLearning and instructional designers, editors, bid writers, and user experience designers.

With 16 years in this specialist market, we love what we do and are proud of our long-term partnerships with our clients and candidates. They tell us we are thorough, efficient, no-nonsense and nice to deal with.

We look forward to seeing you at TCUK 2019! Please visit our stand to:

• Register with us and talk about how we can help you further your career.
• Discuss how we can help you recruit a technical communicator.
• Take advantage of our 1-to-1 CV MOT service (please bring along your CV).
• Enjoy a sweet treat from our ever-popular chocolate bowl!

TCUK 2019 Sponsor – CAD-IT

CAD-IT are experts in Service Lifecycle Management and are dedicated to the improvement and advancement of all aspects relating to a product in its service life. By leveraging technology and readily available assets we can enhance our customers’ product and service quality, efficiency, profitability and customer satisfaction.

We deliver software solutions, services and consultancy support for our customers. We specialise in assessing our customers’ service landscape and helping them improve how they design, support and maintain their products in the field by leveraging technology and process change. This increases the quality of the support and reduces costs across several functional areas.

TCUK17 Speaker Stefan Gentz – The Convergence of Marketing and Technical Communication, an Adobe case study

Stefan Gentz, from sponsor Adobe, will be presenting a case study at TCUK17 on “The Convergence of Marketing and Technical Communication”.

Photo of Stefan Gentz

Content consumption patterns have dramatically changed over the last decade. The maximum selective sustained attention span of a human being is about 20 minutes. Latest research shows that the transient attention span of human beings has even gone down from 12 to 8 seconds over the last decade.

To communicate technical content in the future successfully, we need to move from drops to drips, improve findability and searchability and tailor content to the content consumer’s role and context automatically. It’s time to talk about new customer experiences and new customer journeys.
In this session, Stefan Gentz, Worldwide TechComm Evangelist for Adobe, will discuss the communication of technical content and how it’s becoming increasingly important to understand technical communication as marketing communication. The ability to blend marketing content and technical content into a unified customer experience becomes key to success. The foundation for this is dynamic, intelligent content that enables personalization and multichannel content delivery to communicate with customers in all possible ways.

About Stefan Gentz

As the Worldwide Evangelist for Technical Communication at Adobe, Stefan’s mission is to inspire enterprises and technical writers around the world and show how to create compelling technical communication content with the Adobe TCS tools.

Stefan is also a certified Quality Management Professional (TÜV), ISO 9001 / EN 15038 auditor, ISO 31000 Risk Management expert and Six Sigma Champion.
Stefan is a popular keynote speaker and moderator at conferences such as tekom, tcworld, Information Energy, Intelligent Content Conference, Congility, LocWorld, TCUK, STC, GALA, ELIA, TTT, Translation Forum Russia and many others. He is also a member of the Conference Advisory Board of the world’s biggest TechComm event, the tekom / tcworld Conferences and member of the iiRDS working group for Intelligent Information. He is also an active social networker on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

TCUK17 Speaker Jörg Plöger – Give your content wings – How to improve your documentation skills, a SCHEMA case study

Jörg Plöger, from sponsor SCHEMA, will be presenting a case study at TCUK17 on “Give your content wings – How to improve your documentation skills”.

Photo of Jörg Plöger

At the latest when your machine is ready before the accompanying documentation, or when your software is two versions ahead of the software help release, it is time to look into your editing solution. You have probably already noticed that the number of releases and formats is constantly growing, and that publication cycles are becoming shorter. With this case study, we would like to give you a few helpful tips and best practices to improve your way of working with information. In short, it is about the question: “What to consider when creating and managing information to make it future proof?”

About Jörg Plöger

Jörg Plöger studied mathematics. He has worked in technical communication in a wide variety of industries for more than 20 years. As consultant and trainer, he has travelled around Europe many times. Since 2000, Jörg Plöger has been working in the software industry (Translation Memory Systems (TMS) and Content Management Systems (CMS)). He is sales representative of SCHEMA and based in Bremen, Northern Germany.

TCUK17 Speaker Yuri Kolber – Best Practices of Documentation Migration Projects, an OTC Case Study

Yuri Kolber, from sponsor OnTarget Communications, will be presenting a case study at TCUK17 on “Best Practices of Documentation Migration Projects”.

Photo of Eran (Yuri) Kolber
Logo for OnTarget Communications

The case study examines the learnings, both positive and negative, from two migration projects (both for customers with global audiences). In both cases the customers were looking to move documentation to a collaborative platform, that would enable value delivery through version control, effective re-use of content, and efficient distribution of documentation. Due to the different requirements and audiences, the solutions selected for the customers were substantially different technically (from a toolset perspective), but both delivered the desired results. The session will provide guidelines for ensuring that migrating documentation to new platforms and toolsets, is as painless as possible.

About Eran (Yuri) Kolber

Eran (Yuri) Kolber is the Director of Training and Professional Services for OnTarget Communications. As part of his duties, he assists customers world-wide with Training Needs Analysis, Training Delivery, Content Creation and Management, Migration Project Planning and Execution, Knowledge Transfers, and extracting the maximum business value from technology, in the age of the Cloud and Mobility.

Yuri served as a Platform Evangelist for Microsoft for many years, and has assisted global consulting organizations, such as Holden International, to plan and roll-out content management and training programs for their customers.

He also leads OnTarget’s Internship program, which helps entrants into the industry obtain the required experience.

TCUK 2019 Sponsor – 3di Information Solutions Ltd

“Complexity made clear”
3di has delivered technical communication and localization services to global companies, government organisations, and technology and software businesses since 2002. Our in-house team of 40 is based near Guildford, in Kraków and in Edinburgh. Quite a few of us are attending TCUK as delegates.

Our customers and suppliers love working with us and keep coming back. The people we work with day-to-day like our friendly and reliable approach and our focus on quality — we don’t let them down. The people who pay the bills like our competitive rates and our focus on efficient processes — we save them money.

Visit our stand at TCUK to:

• discuss your work and the challenges you face
• brief us about projects you have coming up
• tell us about your availability to work with us and our customers
• find out more about our partnerships with Kothes, and with Madcap

For more information visit our website

What are your top three technical writing tools?

Earlier this year, Ferry Vermeulen asked speakers at conferences earlier this year what they consider their top three tools of choice for their technical communication needs. He received over 70 responses which he published in “Technical Writing Tools: The Ultimate Expert Choice” on his blog.

Many of the responses are perfect for this year’s conference theme: From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator. Dive into the article for inspiration!

  • Find out who feels that a certain tool is like a map of her brain (or at least, if she were Data from Star Trek).
  • Learn how many are using Github and why.
  • Discover who considers “talent” a tool!

If Ferry had contacted you, what would you say to him? You can add your thoughts in the comments at “Technical Writing Tools: The Ultimate Expert Choice”.

You can also continue the discussion at the TCUK conference or on Twitter (and include @TCUK_Conf or the hashtag #TCUK16).

From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator

Anjali Gupta works as a Technical Writing Consultant with Adobe Systems, the Diamond Sponsor for TCUK16. She is smitten by Adobe products (especially FrameMaker and RoboHelp) and plans to learn and teach some great, new workflows to users. She loves to explore new communication styles and media. Anjali has written an article for us where she shares her thoughts on the 2016 conference theme.

From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator

It is one of those Monday mornings, when I am rushing to the office, skipping breakfast again. First thing that I want to do, after I reach the office, is to sip 2-3 cups of coffee and get rid of the usual Monday sickness. An email from my boss is the last thing that I am expecting to see on my smartphone screen. And Beep. It’s an email from my boss.

Hi Anjali, the Online Help looks great. Thanks for such a quick turnaround. It’s a pleasure to have an expert like you in the team.

I have been working through weekends to complete a crucial delivery. And this totally makes my day. A wide smile covers my face while I start for office. I remember the days when I had just started off in the field of technical communications and with the little experience that I had at that time, I was someone who was nervous and not very confident about my skills.

Being a Technical Communicator requires you to be quick with learning tools and technologies, determining what users need, and helping users accomplish their tasks with the various types of content you create. The communication needs to be precise as well as engaging.

At this point, when I sit down introspecting, I feel that I could have done a few things better. So if you think you are a novice in this field and want to plan your career path to be an expert technical communicator, imbibe these quick tips:

  • Understand that technical communication is more than just technical writing.
    I agree that these two terms are closely connected. But, as the world around you evolves, you will see that newer communication media and changing user preferences will open up opportunities for you to communicate in many ways, not just through writing conventional user guides and help manuals. So explore a variety of writing styles and methodologies and embrace new media.
  • Be patient. In fact, be very patient.
    Your first write-up will be rejected, your following write-ups will be heavily edited, and your first appreciation mail will not come easily. But you will have to be patient to excel. It’s okay to make mistakes, but it’s crucial to learn from them. Actually, this is how a writer grows: Write > Revise > Enhance. Remember, smart and steady will win the race here.
  • Keep up the investigative skills. Ask a lot of questions.
    Do not worry, if in a product demo, you ask something that leaves someone in the room amused. If you have done your user analysis, do not hesitate to play the user. Keep your probing skills sharp. It won’t take long for people to notice that somebody in the room has understood the product and the user community really well.
  • Keep sharpening your technical skills. Bridge the demand and supply gap.
    Gone are the days when writers used to work around with basic word processors. Today, as users want to see content in various formats, like interactive How-to videos, mobile and search-friendly articles, you as a technical communicator will have to match up to those requirements. Be well-read and flexible so that you can use both technology and skills to produce user delighting content.
  • Be collaborative and grounded.
    Collaborate well with your team and stakeholders. Be grounded and professional when it is about giving and accepting suggestions. Do not take reviews personally. They are done to improve the document. However, if you also choose to improve with each of the reviews (which is highly advisable), you will realize that success will be closer.

The Novice Technical Communicator – Where does my journey begin

This is the first in a series of articles based on our 2016 theme for TCUK: “From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator”.

Fountain pen and ink bottle resting on an open blank notebook with 2 closed pens lying next to the notebook

For a person entering the world of technical communication, this world may seem exciting and yet daunting. The role of a technical communicator is constantly evolving with the changes in technology and constantly presenting new challenges.

There are many avenues to be travelled upon – for example, you can choose writing, editing, illustration, designing or publishing. Regardless of the avenue you choose as a technical communicator, you need to be able to understand complex (technical) information and convey this to your audience in a meaningful and appropriate way.

On the job, you would work with a range of specialists – designers, engineers, technicians, marketers, product developers and publishers. You would need excellent communication skills to be able to deal with different types of personalities and extract the information you need from them.

The career opportunities in the field of technical communication are plenty. At this point, you will be asking yourself, where do I begin my journey as a technical communicator?

Here’s our take on how you can kickstart your career in technical communication.

What does technical communication involve?

Typically, technical communication involves creating documentation for technical processes, software programs and systems.

You could produce end-user content – from the user’s perspective – that provides useful information on the product functionality and usability, which helps to solve the user’s problem, answer their questions and meet their needs.

Your everyday work could involve creating new documents, updating or rewriting existing documentation, performing user research and presenting the information in the most appropriate manner. You could commission or illustrate photographs and diagrams, test materials and work with digital platforms for delivering and publishing content.

Other types of documents you could create include:

  • articles, case studies and white papers
  • educational content
  • product manuals and specifications
  • policies and procedures / standard operating procedures
  • API documentation
  • how-to guides
  • blog posts

The field of technical communication is moving beyond merely authoring classic documentation. Documenting what developers do is a growing area. Straddling the field of user experience while keeping one foot in technical communication is a popular choice. Technical communicators are expected to understand and utilise a variety of software programs, tools, methods and digital platforms that aid content creation.

Which industries need technical communicators?

You will make careful considerations about the industry you want to work in as a technical communicator.

Before you choose the industry you want to work in, firstly, decide what you want to write about and try to follow your passion.

There are many industries that require the skills of a technical communicator, such as:

  • aerospace, defence and manufacturing
  • architectural structure and engineering
  • digital technology
  • educational services
  • government agencies and organisations
  • information technology
  • telecommunications
  • scientific research labs
  • publishing agencies

Use the internet (or any available resources!) to research which local industries are recruiting technical communicators – you can widen or narrow your search based on your results.

Professional mentors and training

The most difficult part of embarking on a career is breaking into the field. We have highlighted a few steps to guide you.

Step one: Research the company you want to work for

Use online and offline resources to find out what you can about the company you would like to work for.

  • Website – Most companies have a website – a shop window – which gives you an insight into the company history, present and future. Use the website to understand what the company does. Learn about the company products – even write your own (product) article based on the information you have so far.
    Download (free) resources such as case studies and white papers to give you an idea of the type of content that is being written and the level of skills required to produce that type of content.
    Make note of the things you think you can improve on as you navigate the website. If asked at a later stage to share your thoughts, then you refer to these notes.
  • Social Media – Take a look at the social media channels the company uses to promote their brand and products. This will give you an insight into the way in which the company engages and interacts with its customers and audiences online.
  • Publications – Take a look at trade magazines or other publications where the company contributes content to or is featured in.
  • Contacts – Make a note of the persons responsible for producing technical content. You will find contact information such as an email address or social media profile available on the ‘Contact Us’ page of the company site. Always use the preferred method of contact when reaching out.

Step Two: Make contact and get a mentor

In step one, you collected a list of contacts you can approach.

Start off by introducing yourself and let them know who you are and what you are looking for. You could send them a copy of the article you wrote or other pieces of content that showcase your skills to generate interest.

This would give them an opportunity to learn something about you. If they are interested in your work, they will contact you and request you to either contribute to a project that suits your skills or guide you through the hiring process for a role at the company.

You may have to contact several technical communicators before you receive a response. But it’s worth your time – in the end you may just land your first role as a technical communicator.

Entering the field of technical communication is challenging, but there are professionals out there who can mentor and guide young professionals looking for a break.

Step Three: Memberships and Training

Become a member of a recognised technical communication organisation or institute.

This is a great way to meet professional technical communicators, join groups, attend events and find mentors and more contacts.

Many memberships offer discounted events, courses and workshops for you to attend.

The Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators is the largest (non-profit) body in the UK that represents the technical communication profession. The ISTC offers a range of professional communities, events and courses for its members. The ISTC has a mentoring programme.

Becoming a member of a professional organisation shows that you are proactive and curious about your field.

Here is a list of technical communication organisations you can consider joining:

Write your Tech Comm CV

Writing a CV for any profession is a tough task.

Being new in the field could mean that you may not have much experience. Use your CV as an opportunity to showcase your skill set and any relevant experience. For example:

  • Experience – If you have graduated from university – write a brief paragraph about a piece of course work you produced. Include skills that would be relevant to the role you will apply for – research, information gathering, use of imagery, and writing style used to produce course work.
    If you have your own blog or have written any articles or product reviews, then reference those in your CV. This could act as a portfolio of your work.
    If you were employed whilst you were a student then include your dates of employment and a brief sentence about your role.
  • Skills – List the software packages, methods and tools you used to produce your work with.

From writing the CV to choosing the right format for the content is perhaps the biggest hurdle. Take a look at these sample technical writing CVs to get an idea of how the CV should be formatted, and begin writing the content.

Your CV should read easily and follow a simple format as follows:

  • Top of CV – Name, address, contact details and social media profile – include a link to LinkedIn profile. Brief tag line of objective.
  • Body of CV – Work experiences till date – professional or voluntary. A list of skills, qualifications, certificates, and link to portfolio (if works are available online).
  • End of CV – Education.

The clarity of your CV should indicate the clarity you will bring to the job!

The cover letter for your CV should address the requirements posted in the job advertisement. If you are submitting an unsolicited CV, your cover letter should reflect the insights you gathered in step one.

Build your network online or offline

When building a new career, how you network with other professionals is key in the progression of your career.

There are many technical communication leaders and experts out there that you can connect with on social media or even meet at events. You can follow them for regular updates and even post a message to them when you see something of interest from them in your personal feed.

The internet is a fascinating way to connect with people. Set up your own professional social media profile on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and share your thoughts on the industry, join groups or communities and participate in discussions with other professionals.

Keep in touch with the people you meet along the way. You never know when an opportunity may arise and you could be contacted – because you took the time to connect with them.

Our next article will focus on the Expert Technical Communicator.

Written by: Vee Modha
Contribution by: Karen Mardahl