Building a Second Career


Embarking on a second career is exciting and yet full of many challenges. How do I create a well-constructed resume? What skills do I need to learn? Luckily the Internet consists of a bundle of resources including Discussion Boards, websites, and articles. To all of you courageous people beginning a parallel career: Be persistent and don’t give up!

Would you recommend pursuing a technical writing certificate?
Contribution resources (WAS Building a Second Career)


Can you share how your experience applies to Write The Docs? Have you made the transition to writer or documentarian?



Thank you for your interest in the topic at hand. I am in the process of transitioning to Technical Writer and Editor. I’m researching and building my job network. Some of the previous discussions have useful tips and I’m eager to learn. Hope I’ve answered your question.


Glad to hear you’re entering the tech writing world! Welcome :slight_smile:


Thank you for your support. I am excited to begin a new career and am looking forward to entering the tech world.


Software documentation is my second long-term career, and my third or fourth overall (depending on how you count).

One thing that I found useful when I was starting out was mapping my first-career skills to software skills explicitly in my resume. I had been an academic, which meant that I could emphasize my research, writing, and teaching/training experience. I had also done a little web development work, and I’d played around on Unix/VAX/the Internet-before-the-web a bit.

Everyone’s background is different, but two fundamental skills for software docs are research and writing/communication, so you might try finding areas in a previous career where you’d used these skills, and build from what you already know and can do.

Hope it helps, and best of luck!


Wow, you have certainly had a number of careers-that’s quite admirable. It certainly takes courage and determination.

I couldn’t agree with you more regarding linking your first-career skills to your new career. That is certainly a must during the beginning stage.

Thank you for your advice; it was most definitely helpful.


If you want to get some practice, I can heartily recommend helping out an open source project. Pick a project that interests you and help out where needed. Perhaps review, edit and add to existing documentation. Perhaps write a “Quick start” guide.

It’s a win-win situation because:

  • Your work is publicly accessible to any potential employers.
  • The project benefits from skills that are generally incredibly hard to attract.

I believe it was work like this that won me the job I have now, working for a global technology company based entirely on open source projects.


Hi Russell,

I took the exact step you suggested and recently finished proofreading a manual. It’s reasurring to hear that these small steps are helpful in getting experience. Do you have suggestions for any particularly helpful forums that offer these kinds of projects?


@meirav87: not quite a forum, but ICYMI, check out:


For the manual that you edited, create a before/after comparison. I hired a junior tech writer based on an example like that, plus a “how to use the videoconference equipment” Powerpoint that she created to help her coworkers run conferences (and not spend half the meeting pushing every button on the remote trying to figure out which one worked!).


Excellent. There are a number of good leads in that article. Thank you.


And another resource for open source projects in general (but these projects pretty much ALWAYS need doc love)


And another resource for open source projects generally – not limited to docs:


Thank you bradamante for the additional links. I will take a look at them.


FWIW, we have a relatively new TW in the PDX area; she was a high school teacher back east. She created an intro to Git online, and used that to get her first gig. She has progressed through the ranks in the 3 years since.