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How to Source Great Training Content Writers

How do you find a great writer for your training content? If you’re like a lot of companies in this leaner, more streamlined economy, you look outside your organization – and that’s a great solution.

It can also be an unmitigated disaster if you don’t know how to find the right writer.

You need a writer who understands what training is – that it’s not about the words, that it’s not the same as copywriting. You need a writer who can tell a story. You need a writer who is prepared to work closely with an instructional designer. So, how do you find this writer?

  1. Start looking early. Do not wait until you’re ready to start writing the training to post your ad. Get to know one or more great writers when you aren’t up against a deadline. As soon as you suspect that you may need an outside writer, start interviewing.
  2. Read cover letters carefully. You can weed out a lot of potential writers on the basis of their poorly written cover letters. Yes, typos happen. But there’s no excuse for a writer who can’t string together a couple of coherent sentences.
  3. Ask for specifics. A popular way to weed out spam applications is to ask people to include a word or a phrase in their application. It’s overdone at this point, and it doesn’t really prove that much. Instead, ask applicants to answer a relevant question in the context of what they’ll be doing. For example, “How will you make sure this training speaks to our factory workers and our executives?” or “Give me an example of a scenario-based question about XYZ.”
  4. Start off small. Do not hand over a course to a writer and walk away for three weeks. Instead, ask the writer to pick one section of the course and write it. Then review it with your ID and ask for any necessary revisions. You’ll have a chance to see the whole project on a smaller scale, and you can make adjustments as necessary.
  5. Where have you found the best writers? What are your tips for getting the best work from them?

Photo by Jon Sullivan.