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Writing Samples for Job Application – What to Write About

When it comes to writing samples for a job application, there’s no exact formula for what you should write. However, there are some general guidelines you should follow in order to make sure your samples are not only grammatically correct, but also highly persuasive.

Here are FIVE ways to write compelling samples that will convince the employer that you are the best person for the job.

1. Professionalism

This is perhaps the most important thing to nail down. Even before you start writing your samples, take a few moments to think about the type of person you want to project to the employer. Are you trying to convince them that you are a polished professional, or that you are a down to earth person who just happens to have a fancy degree?

You should display professionalism at all times, and that includes how you present yourself during the application process. Although it’s not essential that you learn to write professionally, it certainly won’t hurt your cause, and it will make you look more like a skilled candidate.

2. Research the Company

Another important consideration is doing your research about the company you are trying to attract. You don’t want to accidentally send them a resume that isn’t appropriate for the role you’re applying for. For example, if you are applying for a sales job, and your sample resumes are all marketing or administrative type jobs, you might want to switch gears a little bit and sample resumes that are more sales-related.

By learning more about the company you are applying to, you can highlight the relevant skills you have that will be valuable to their team. As with any other piece of marketing material, the more you know about the company, the more you can tailor your resume to match their requirements.

3. Education

You should try to keep your resume as concise as possible, and include only the most relevant information. Short-changing yourself on educational details could potentially ruin your chances of getting the job. It’s always better to be over-educated, rather than under-educated.

Make sure to include all the important graduation dates, as well as the name of the school you attended. You don’t want to leave any stone unturned when constructing your application.

Additionally, make sure to note any relevant extracurricular activities you may have engaged in. This could include anything from community service to participating in trade associations. It’s always better to be the best-qualified applicant rather than the least-qualified one.

4. Skills

Skills are an important consideration when constructing your application. Just because you have a fancy degree or two under your belt, that doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to get the job. Many employers have never even heard of candidates with certain degrees, and it can be quite the uphill battle to get that foot in the door. So, make sure to focus on your skills and how you can effectively use those degrees to contribute to the company.

Some important things to consider when demonstrating your skills include:

  • A clear demonstration of how your skills relate to the job. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing job and your sample resumes are all marketing related, include a few samples of your marketing knowledge. (Make sure to also include how much you’ve done in the past, as well as how much you’ll be able to contribute)
  • Your skills should be relevant to the type of job you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a marketing job and your skills are all in sales, make sure to focus on your sales experience. (Again, include how much you’ve done in the past, as well as how much you’ll be able to contribute)
  • As for the previous bullet point, focus on the actual skills you have, as opposed to the degrees you have. For example, instead of saying you have a marketing degree, say you are an experienced marketer. Saying you have a marketing degree doesn’t tell them much about you as a professional, whereas, including the words “marketing degree” tells them you’ve been officially branded as an expert in the field. Your degree may very well be important to your overall success at the company, but it is not everything.
  • The more you can tailor your resume to highlight your skills, the more you’ll stand out from the crowd. So, don’t just include your degrees, but also highlight any relevant training you’ve received. (This is also a good opportunity to mention any relevant certifications or specializations.)
  • Finally, don’t forget about your GitHub account! Developers all over the world are using this platform to showcase their skills, and it’s a great way to get your foot in the door. (You can find tons of tutorials, as well as source code you can contribute to.)
  • If you’re applying for a technical job and your skills are in software development, make sure to include several samples of your coding knowledge. (Again, include how much you’ve done in the past, as well as how much you’ll be able to contribute)
  • Include any relevant work experience you have. For example, if you’re applying for a job in IT, and you have several years of experience working as a network administrator, include those years of relevant experience on your resume. Your resume should be able to stand on its own without including any work experience.
  • If you’re applying for a job in a smaller organisation, it’s often beneficial to look for positions that are not yet open, as there may be more opportunity to move up the corporate ladder. (This is also relevant for those who are applying for academic jobs – don’t just send your resume, but also send a letter explaining why you’re aiming for that particular position. A one-page resume is often better than a two-page one.)

5. Personal Brand

Make sure to brand yourself in a way that is relevant to the type of position you’re applying for. It can be tempting to want to put yourself in the best possible light, and avoid anything that could possibly be construed as a negative. However, leaving out any detail could potentially hurt your cause. (This also goes for samples – never, ever send your best sample! Even if you are submitting your resume, try to find a way to include something that makes you stand out, rather than just copy and paste the same resume everywhere.)

Include a short bio about yourself. Something that will make the employer interested in you, and hopefully, wanting to learn more about you. Ideally, you should include a mix of all of the above, however, make sure that each piece of material you submit is relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Additionally, make sure to follow up with a concise and well-written email, mentioning at least one piece of relevant information from your email correspondence. This could include anything from the email you sent them to include a link to a blog article, to a summary of your side of the story in regards to a contentious issue. An email that follows a clear and concise template (like the one found here) greatly increases the chances of you getting a response.