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How to Format a Writing Sample for a Job Application

Whether you’re applying for a job in sales or marketing, you’ll need to provide some samples of your work. No matter which stage you’re at in the process, you’ll need to know how to format a writing sample.

There are some simple guidelines you can follow to ensure your writing samples are easy to read and understand, and that you don’t get penalized for any spelling errors. After all, if you’re going to be submitting your work electronically, errors are likely to be flagged by the software.

Follow the Instructions

The first and most important thing you should do is read the instructions thoroughly. It’s easy to overlook something small, like a missing word or an uneven line break, if you’re not paying close attention. Once you’ve finished reading the instructions, follow them carefully and exactly.

Some applications may require you to submit your work in a specific format, so be sure you know what that is before you start writing. Also, ask questions if you’re not sure about anything. Your application will be much easier to get through if you’ve had some training, and believe it or not, easier applications lead to quicker hires. So don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re stuck.

Focus On One Side Of The Paper At A Time

One of the most common errors writers make is putting too much text on a page. If you have two or more stories to tell, or you want to give a quick overview of your career, then writing one paragraph on each side of the paper, with a small section in the middle, is a good idea. Let’s say you’re writing an application for a marketing job, and you decide to write about your recent work experiences. You could start with something like:

“I have a proven track record in growing revenue and profits for Fortune 500 marketing and advertising agencies. My background includes a proven record of effectively marketing various consumer goods and non-profit organizations. I have strong communication skills and a passion for new challenges. I feel confident that my experience in growing two successful marketing agencies will translate to this new position.”

Then you could go on to talk about the specifics of each of your campaigns:

“In 2018, I managed a campaign on behalf of a leading toy manufacturer that resulted in doubled sales and a 27% rise in profit. The campaign was highly targeted at African-American children, and leveraged social media to gain support among a younger audience. We also ran a successful national ad campaign during the 2018 holiday season that increased awareness of the brand, and drove revenue and traffic to our websites.”

You can see how this approach makes for a much easier reading experience, and also allows the reader to quickly get a grasp of your experience and the knowledge you have on the subject matter. This is also a good idea for writing up your personal statement for college applications.

Use Active Voice

If you’re telling a story, using the active voice is usually a good idea. This means you’ll start the sentence with a verb, rather than a noun. For example, rather than saying “Jane was applying for a marketing job,” you could say “Jane applied for a marketing job,” or “Jane will be applying for a marketing job.”

This approach guides the reader through the story, and gives them more confidence that what they’re reading is important and not just filler. It makes the text more entertaining, and helps establish yourself as an expert in your field.

Avoid Clichés

Now, let’s move on to some of the most common and annoying writing clichés. First of all, never use the word “only” in a sentence. It’s extremely underused and almost always results in some form of clichés. The more you use it, the more you’ll find yourself falling into a pattern of using it incorrectly. For example, “Jane only has one hobby which is drawing,” becomes “Jane has only one hobby which is drawing.”

Try to avoid words that are overused and/or overrated. Overuse of certain words can pull the reader out of the story and make it seem dull. This is why you should avoid using clichés and instead use words that sound more natural. You can find a thesaurus to help you find new words and combinations of existing ones.

Spell Check

Another important point to make is that most applications today require you to submit your work electronically. That means you’ll need to take care of any spelling errors in your text before you submit it. Fortunately, there are a few simple tricks you can use to make spelling and grammar errors less noticeable. First of all, run your sample text through a spell checker. This will flag any spelling errors, and you’ll be able to correct them easily before you send it. Also, if you’re applying for a job in a country with a large English speaking community, like the US or UK, you can use online tools to improve your writing.


Some people prefer to write straight away, without looking back at what they’ve written. For these writers, it’s important to go through your work several times, and edit it carefully. This way, you’ll catch more mistakes as you go. Start by looking for any spelling errors, grammar issues, and logic errors. Once you’ve fixed these, go back and read your work from a different perspective. You can also ask a friend or colleague to edit your sample for you. Since you’ll be replying to questions about your work, it’s important to make sure everything is accurate and that your answers make sense. In some cases, the application form will ask for references. In these cases, it’s best to ask someone who has known you for a long time to provide a recommendation. Finally, make sure you have someone view your work before you submit it. This will help you catch any errors that might have slipped through, and ensure that your work is of the highest quality.

Once you’ve fixed all the essentials, you can move on to some of the personal things that might come up in an interview. These include things like your hobbies, or your views on certain topics. You can find a quiet space where you will not be disturbed, and take out your notebook. Next to your name, write down some important information, like your email address and phone number. You can also add a little extra information about yourself, like where you went to school and what degrees you have. Finally, you can write short notes about what you’ve jotted down. This will help you keep track of what you need to do, and ensure you don’t forget anything. Follow the instructions carefully, and you’re sure to write a quality application that will land you the job you want.