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How Long Should a Writing Sample for a Job Be?

Inevitably, you will have to write some samples or essays to get your foot in the door. What is the best way to approach these documents? Is it better to write something super professional, or can you go a little more casual? Let’s have a look, shall we?

4-5 Pages Is The Perfect Size

When it comes to the perfect length for your writing sample, everyone has their own opinion. However, there are some standard guidelines that you should follow. For instance, the 4-5 page range is perfect for most any application. Why is that? It simply comes down to this: most employers won’t have the time to go through your entire portfolio when making a decision about hiring you. Therefore, they will most likely focus on your writing sample, or at least the part that is closest to being done. So, in that case, you want to make sure that your sample is short and sweet. With just a few pages, you will have the opportunity to demonstrate your mastery of English and leave a lasting impression on the reader.

The English Major

It is always best to tailor your application to the job you are applying for. After all, you won’t be able to impress the employer with your knowledge of French cooking if you are applying for an office job. With that in mind, you want to make sure that your writing sample is tied to your academic career. Since writing is a popular major among students, it would be wise to include a few short essays or samples in your application. Not only will this make you stand out, but it will also demonstrate that you are a quick study, or, at the very least, someone who is willing to learn.

The Fiction

For those of you who are applying for a creative writing position, or if you are just looking for something different to put on your resume, you might want to consider including some short stories in your portfolio. With a little bit of research, you will find that there are many short story competitions that you can participate in. By submitting your stories to these competitions, you have the opportunity to get them peer-reviewed and possibly even published. Not only that, but you also get the chance to showcase your talent and gain some experience, which can only be beneficial to your career.

Lightning Round 

As the name implies, the lightning round is exactly that – quick! In a nutshell, you will have 5 seconds to impress the employer with your brilliant wordplay. You don’t want to go over, so it’s best to keep it short. However, you don’t want to seem like a robot either, so leave a little bit of wit.

Include the following in your lightning round:

  • Your name
  • Your phone number
  • Your email address
  • The name of the company you are applying to
  • What do you do for a living
  • Short bio about yourself, including any relevant work experience
  • Lightning round writing sample

Now, it’s your turn to ask the interviewer a question. This is your last chance to shine before the hiring manager declares his decision. So, take a deep breath and submit a question about the company.

As I mentioned above, your work sample is your chance to showcase your skills and experience. Ideally, you want to submit something that is representative of your overall talent. For instance, if you are applying to be a creative director at an advertising agency, you might want to submit a brief outline for an ad campaign. When the hiring manager reviews your work sample, he will be able to see all the details of the campaign, not just the outline. In that case, you would want to submit the completed campaign, including all the work that went into it. When it comes to writing samples, sometimes less is more. Keep it simple and to the point, and you will be able to leave a lasting impression. Good luck out there!