Many different positions require a writing sample as part of the application process. While most common in the fields of publishing and editing, a mandatory writing sample might be also requested when applying for jobs in the legal industry or other areas that require accurate and punctual written communication. This article will show you how to submit a writing sample so you can move to the next hiring step.
How to submit a writing sample
Here are several steps to follow when preparing to submit your writing sample:
1. First, ask the employer what type of sample should be submitted
In a real-life job assignment, asking questions before you start working can save everyone time and frustration. Therefore, you should not hesitate to ask questions regarding the type of writing sample the employer is seeking. Find out if they want to see an email, a formal letter, or an article. You should also ask about the format they prefer for accepting submissions, such as a Word document or a PDF.
Many times, employers will leave things like tone, length, and other details up to interpretation. In general, you should submit a few paragraphs (unless requested otherwise). Consider whether they want you to express knowledge on a specific topic.
2. Second, select a topic that is relevant to the position you are applying for
If the employer does not provide you with a specific topic for your writing sample, you should do some research into the company’s existing content and work to align with their brand’s style. Choose a topic that is relevant to the industry you will be writing about.
For instance, if you are applying for the position of editor for a bird owners magazine, you may select a writing sample that demonstrates your knowledge about a specific type of bird or the special care they require. If you are applying for the position of a paralegal at a law firm, draft a sample letter that demonstrates your ability to craft professional correspondence to clients on behalf of an attorney.
3. Third, decide if your past work qualify
If you happen to have a past work that is relevant to the company and representative of their brand’s style, you may be able to adapt it to fit your needs as part of your writing sample. You can even share a co-authored work, especially if you are applying for a position that requires collaborative writing skills.
4. Fourth, draft your sample
Whether you are writing a sample from scratch or choosing an existing work, you will need to adapt the writing to suit the position you are applying for. It needs to be concise and interesting so that it piques the employer’s attention. If you are submitting a longer work as your sample, you should either summarize it into a few paragraphs or select and adapt a few paragraphs from the piece. You can then present it as an ‘excerpt,’ ‘summary of,’ or ‘adapted from’ the original piece.
When creating a writing sample from scratch, it may be best to opt for a very specific topic. This allows you to demonstrate in-depth knowledge in fewer words compared to covering multiple topics or a general topic.
5. Last, finalize and submit your sample
The final step before submitting your writing sample is proofreading it. It is always helpful to have a second person review your writing before submitting as they may be able to catch something that you missed. Always check for spelling, punctuation, and other essential aspects before uploading the writing sample to the employer.