Technical Writing for HR Professionals: An Ultimate Guide


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Being an HR professional entails more than just managing your staff or onboarding new hires. You’ll constantly be challenged to communicate your plans, thoughts, and opinions in writing, and business writing is a skill many professionals, unfortunately, lack. 

According to recent data, US businesses lose around $400 billion per year due to poor communication, miscommunication, and failure to inform their stakeholders of important issues or needs. As an HR professional, you cannot afford to lose your business’ or clients’ resources simply due to poor writing skills. Let’s discuss technical writing for HR professionals and how you can grow as a writer without undue headaches.

Perks of Learning Technical Writing as an HR Professional

Before we get into the ins and outs of technical writing for HR professionals, it’s important to understand the role of technical writing in a business. Depending on how large your enterprise is, you may not have the ability to quickly and effectively communicate your thoughts or plans verbally. Even so, documenting your work-related thoughts and opinions succinctly and professionally is very important for staff cohesion. 

As a technical writer, you’ll have to communicate complex and niche topics to your colleagues who may not be familiar with the concepts beforehand. This will challenge you as a writer but also allow you to expand your writing skills to cater to different demographics or reader profiles. Here’s how you benefit from learning more about technical writing:

  • Streamlined and productive in-house communication
  • Inform and guide different stakeholders on various HR-related topics
  • Add credibility and trust to your writing through your skillful communication
  • Increase the accessibility and usability of niche documents
  • Facilitate higher productivity and engagement with the staff using your copy

Technical Writing Guidelines for HR Professionals

1. Familiarize Yourself with the Types of Technical Writing

To start with, you should understand and recognize different types of technical writing. Technical writing is somewhat different from business writing even though both types of writing are intended for corporate purposes. Technical writing can roughly be separated into the following types:

  • White papers
  • Reports
  • Technical descriptions
  • Instruction manuals
  • Executive summaries

As you can see, many if not all technical writing types target B2B stakeholders or other professionals you’ll work with. As an HR professional, you’ll be required to write reports on your staff, instruction manuals for remote work software, or white paper documents on your company’s yearly performance, for example. Familiarize yourself with these types of technical writing and learn to differentiate them so you don’t mix them up in practice.

2. Start by Researching your Writing Topic

The best way to nail your technical writing is to fully understand the topic you’re about to write on. Whether you’re about to write an employee evaluation report or a white paper on why remote work is beneficial, do your research. Collect verifiable, credible resources and familiarize yourself with the intricacies of your topic. As a technical writer, you’ll be in charge of what people do and don’t find out about any topic. 

Given that you’re an HR professional, your colleagues and managers will trust you to write informative documents based on diligent research. Should anyone spot that you’ve cut corners in your research, they’ll call you out on it and bring your credibility into question. Don’t let it come to that and always learn more about your topic before you start outlining your writing.

3. Use Visuals to your Advantage

You can use visual media to enrich your technical writing and make it more digestible. Documents such as instruction manuals, white papers, or even reports can benefit greatly from some visuals added in. When we refer to “visuals” in technical writing, we don’t mean stock photographs or placeholder graphics. Each piece of visual media in a technical document needs to be purposeful and custom-made. 

Charts, graphs, and similar visualized data can greatly enhance the appeal and usability of your document. The same goes for instructional graphics intended to teach or train the reader to perform or use a specific item or technology. When working with visuals in your technical writing, it’s best to consult a graphic designer or a visual artist to help you out. By collaborating with a colleague who is skilled in visual communication, your technical writing will become that much more practical and memorable.

4. Make your Writing Actionable

Technical writing always has to fulfill a certain need or contribute to a purpose for its readers. As such, it’s best to use clear and simple language and rely on calls to action throughout your writing. What exactly do you want the reader to do with the information you’ve provided them with? This question is especially important when writing instructional documents and manuals intended to teach. 

Assume the reader’s position and look at your writing to determine how actionable it is. You don’t want to leave the reader questioning what to do with the data you’ve presented them with. Instead, you want them to act, and to act in meaningful ways which will make their life or work easier depending on the type of technical writing they’re engaged with.

5. Spellcheck and Format your Writing

As you get closer to finishing your technical writing document, you should proofread it for good measure. Technical documents are very sensitive in terms of spelling and grammar because they’re likely to be filled with abbreviations, codes, and niche verbiage. Make sure that you’ve clearly outlined your thoughts and that what you wrote makes practical sense. 

When you have something presentable to show for your efforts, ask someone else to read your document and make sense of it. If someone unfamiliar with your work can understand it, you will have succeeded in writing that specific document. You can use MyCollegeHero to have your document edited, proofread, and formatted when you’re short on time and need to submit your writing quickly. Once you’re sure that your document is presentable, you can submit it to whichever stakeholders you intended it for.

6. Don’t Shy Away from Consulting Experts

Sometimes you may need to consult with experts on certain topics if you can’t grasp specific concepts on your own. For example, if you need to write an instruction manual on an in-house piece of software, you may want to consult your IT engineer and get their opinion on the document. 

It’s a good idea to consult people who are more closely familiar with the topics you’re about to write about to supplement any research you’ve made. This will ensure that your writing is indeed meaningful and informative for readers rather than regurgitated or meandering. Moreover, this will ensure that your writing is based on experts’ opinions and insight, lending further credence to your documents. Be the bigger person and a professional – ask for help whenever you need it to improve your technical writing.

7. Use Previous Technical Documents as Blueprints

Once your workload increases, you won’t have the time or energy to write each piece of technical writing from scratch. This is where outlines come into play, as they can make your life as an HR professional much easier. Use the documents you’ve previously written as blueprints and follow the same writing structure for future documents. 

Of course, some documents may require custom formatting or you may be faced with entirely new technical writing types moving forward. However, much of the initial formatting and outlining can be automated by creating outlines beforehand. This will fast-track your technical writing and make you more productive than before.

Wrapping Up

The best way to get started on your technical writing skills is to simply do it. Start practicing your writing skills in real-world scenarios and use the above pointers and guidelines to make your writing more cohesive and informative. Technical writing, at its core, requires you to understand what you’re writing about intimately. Knowing what you’re writing about will make your employees’ lives more productive and easier in the long run.

Familiarize yourself with the product, service, department, or whichever other item you’re about to address in your writing beforehand. Ask for second opinions about your technical writing’s legibility, and flow, and about how informative it is. While it will take some time for you to nail it, you’ll get better at writing through diligent practice and feedback from your peers and stakeholders.

Bio: Jessica Fender is a professional copywriter, editor at Grab My PaperOpens in a new tab. and content management specialist with extensive experience in the digital publishing industry. Jessica loves writing both formal and informal content, starting with articles and white papers and ending with essays and research papers. In her spare time, Jessica loves reading and working out.

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