It is common for employers to request a writing sample from job applicants. But what should you send and what doesn’t matter? We will discuss the dos and don’ts of asking for and providing a writing sample. This article will help you make the right decision for your career development.
Do send the original draft of your work, as it was intended to be published. That is the only way the employer will be able to determine if you are actually capable of doing the job and if the final product is consistent with what they are looking for. If you’ve been tasked with revising a press release or pitch, don’t send the final product, send the draft. The same goes for proposals and white papers. Revising and editing is part of the process, but you should not expect the person reading your material to do all of the work for you.
In addition to the original draft, it’s also important to send multiple versions of your work. It’s likely the employer will want to see how your work flows and how you handle the most common questions and problems you might encounter. If you’ve found there is demand for your work, it’s highly likely you’ll face some common questions and problems. Having multiple versions will demonstrate your responsiveness and professionalism.
Do not send your unpublished work, unless the employer specifically asks for it. The moment you start sending your work without their consent you’ve crossed a line, and it’s likely they will not be as receptive to your application as they would if you’d never sent them any work. Even if you feel you’ve done nothing wrong and they’ve simply misjudged your application, you may find it difficult to regain their trust once they’ve taken this action.
Do not send your personal or family’s financial information to the employer, even if the employer asks for it. The last thing you want to do is put your current or potential future employers in the middle of a financial dispute between you and your family. This is especially sensitive information, and the employer does not need to know anything about your personal or family’s financial situation.
Once you’ve begun sending your work, you need to continue to send it even if you’ve received a favorable response from the employer. The moment you stop sending your work, the employer might question your commitment to the position. If you’re worried about the status of your application, it’s best to continue to send it until you hear back from the employer. But you should not expect to receive a reply any time soon, especially since you’re competing with many other applicants for the available position.
In general, it is not a good idea to send anything to the employer that could be considered proprietary or confidential. If you’ve been directed to send a writing sample, it’s best to keep it as short as possible and only send what is necessary. Make sure you are not violating any confidentiality agreements you might have signed with previous employers and that your work is either your own or you properly attribute it to the original author. If you’re worried about your work being stolen or copied, use a pseudonym until you’ve had a chance to evaluate the response to your submission. If you’ve been asked to provide samples of your work, take a break and then send it when you’re feeling fresh and have completed a number of drafts.
Hopefully, this article will help you make the right decision about writing samples and steer you clear of any potential pitfalls. From here on out, just do your best to stay within the guidelines put forth by Google, which state:
- Your own original work.
- Material derived from publicly available sources.
- Materials that you’ve already provided to the public (e.g., blog posts, webpages, presentations).
- Materials that you’ve previously reviewed and approved for publication.
- Materials that you can verify are yours.”