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Home ยป What is a Writing Sample for a Job?

What is a Writing Sample for a Job?

Many employers look for references when hiring new staff, so it is essential that you know how to provide them. A job applicant’s reference list consists of three parts: 1) personal contacts 2) education and training and 3) work experience.

The first part of the reference list is the most important and can consist of only three elements:

  • Your name
  • Your email address
  • And your phone number

This is known as the “three degrees of separation”. It is based on the idea that, with the exception of Adolf Hitler and a few other notorious individuals, everyone is connected to someone else in a small social network.

As an employer, how can you tell that a candidate is a good fit for your company? You need to consider their personal networks and search for some kind of recommendation from someone who knows them well.

In an ideal world, you would want to see a combination of all three types of references: education, training and work experience.

But if you only have the contact information of people who know them from their work experience, you may be able to convince the employer that they are a good fit for the role based on their education and training.

There are circumstances where having no references at all is not a problem, but it is better to have more than enough than to be left wondering what could have been.

In many cases, an employer will expect you to provide certificates or testimonials for the education and training. This could be a problem if these are not easily accessible or if you did not complete them. But if you are applying for a job in a creative field, like literature or journalism, where certificates are commonplace, this may not be as big an issue.

How Long Should a Reference Sample Be?

It really depends on the position you are applying for and the hiring manager’s preferences. One of the most common lengths for a writing sample is between 500 and 1,000 words.

A 500 word sample is sufficient for a journalism job, but if you are applying for a marketing or public relations role, you may want to provide a longer example of writing to demonstrate your versatility.

In the case of our fictitious journalist, Joe Smith, we would want to see something more than just a 500 word sample. We are interested in seeing what kind of work the applicant does and how well they perform in their field. Since this is a freelance position, we need to see that the applicant is a good writer with original ideas who can take responsibility for their own work. That is a lot to ask for in a 500 word sample!

What Is The Purpose Of A Writing Sample?

The main purpose of a writing sample is to demonstrate your ability to write concise and effective prose. An employer looks for writers who can distill complex ideas into simple and engaging narratives.

As the name would suggest, a writing sample is usually provided as part of the application process, either alongside your resume or in a separate document. Sometimes, it is asked for in the cover letter, but it is usually not required. You will find that most jobs advertise for “experienced writers” or “journalists”, which suggests that the role involves more than just writing for a local newspaper.

You will often have to write for different publications, so being able to show that you can write compelling copy for varied media is a great selling point.

Your writing sample should reveal some of your best work and should be representative of your writing style. Although the content does not have to be sophisticated, it should be accessible and of a high quality. In the case of our journalist, Joe Smith, we would want to see something that is easily reproducible in terms of its structure and style. Something that a journalist would be proud to write again themselves.

Which Format Should Your Writing Sample Be In?

The format of your writing sample is largely dependent on the type of job you are applying for. There are four common forms:

  • Narrative
  • Description
  • Case study
  • Analysis

Each one of these formats has its pros and cons, which you should consider before making your decision. A good rule of thumb is to choose the one that is simplest for the employer to understand and digest.

If you are writing for a newspaper, they may want to see a narrative or a description of your work. If you are applying for a marketing or public relations role, you may want to see an analysis of a company or an example of a press release. If you are applying for a fiction job, an analysis of a short story may be the best option.

For your own reference, when writing your narrative or description, you want to make sure that it is a good narrative or description. Once you have finished, you can then edit it and use it as part of your reference list.

How Should Your Writing Sample Be Numbered?

A good question to ask is: How should my writing sample be numbered? It depends on your publication policies and the structure of your resume. If you are applying for an academic position, you may want to see your work numbered and cited appropriately. But if you are applying for a job in a creative industry, you may want to see your writing samples arranged in a more informal manner.

In some instances, your writing sample may not be numbered or may be given a different name. For example, if you are applying for a marketing or public relations job and your resume is not structured in any way, you may not want to see your writing samples cited or numbered.

If you are unsure of how to format or cite your work, ask the organization that you are applying to for advice. Most academic employers expect that students will know how to do this correctly, but there are a lot of non-academic jobs where this may not be the case. In summary, when applying for jobs, always try to be consistent with your format and style choices. This will make it easier for the employer to find and evaluate your work.

The more you know about the employer and the position you are applying for, the easier it will be to craft a convincing cover letter and a solid reference list. Good luck out there!