Saturday, February 21, 2009

Including a Writing Sample in a Job Application


I was recently looking at a company's website and saw that in order to apply for a position they required not only a resume and a cover letter, but also a writing sample. I was wondering if you could give me an idea of what an appropriate writing sample could be.



USDCareerBlog said...

Recruiters assess your spoken communication skills during the job interview. But since most positions require various forms of written communication, some recruiters also want evidence of how well you express yourself in written form. Thus, the writing sample.

If you are a typical college senior, your best writing samples will likely be recent class assignments – perhaps a research or term paper. Select a paper that has the most relevance to the position to which you are applying. If you do not have a directly relevant writing sample, provide a paper that demonstrates your ability to write in a clear, grammatically correct, and well organized fashion. If you are particularly ambitious (or have absolutely no previously written samples) you may have to write a 2-3 page paper on a topic of interest and/or of relevance to the position or industry to which you are applying. Avoid papers that are controversial, irreverent or sarcastic. If you want to use a writing sample you prepared as part of a job or internship, do so only with the permission of your supervisor. And because this may be your most important writing assignment to date, be sure to carefully proofread. And spell check!

Thanks for the question and good luck

Anonymous said...

Are writing samples supposed to be hand written if the potential employer does not specify?

USDCareerBlog said...

We'd suggest the writing sample always be neatly typewritten and provided as either a Word document or a pdg file.

Anonymous said...

My application for our public schools specified that my writing sample be handwritten.

USDCareerBlog said...

In that case, you definitely want to provide a handwritten sample. Our suggestion would be to type the document unless the employer specifically requires a handwritten writing sample.

Anonymous said...

I am applying for an entry level teaching position,I am confused about what they want in a writing sample? The only thing I have written recently is a 25 page thesis. Should I contact them for an idea or submit the thesis possibly?

USDCareerBlog said...

Here are a few thoughts.

First, if you're confused about any aspects of a job application, you should try to contact someone in HR or the department to which you are applying and ask for clarification.

Second, the writing samples do not necessarily have to be "recent." They just have to be excellent examples of your writing ability in terms of organization, grammar, sentence structure, etc.

Third, if you don't have an appropriate sample, then you may have to write one (or more) to use as examples for current and future applications.

If you decide to submit the 25 page paper, there's a good chance the search committee member(s) won't read the entire paper, but instead will read just enough to assess your writing skill.