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Writing Samples

Some employers require a writing sample as part of the application. This is usually desired when the position will require a good deal of professional quality writing. It will reveal your command of the English language in sentence structure, paragraphs, format, presentation of ideas and points of fact, logical thought processes, and vocabulary.

Sometimes the writing sample can be a paper you have written for a class and sometimes they ask you to respond to a statement such as, "Tell us why you believe we should hire you." Or they may give you a brief scenario to which you must respond. Sometimes the writing sample is part of the interview and you are asked to sit at a computer and follow the directions in the exercise presented. This may also reflect your ability to work under stress.

Nearly always, writing samples are just one page. In any format, the writing sample is important and will tell your employer a lot about you. You will naturally make it your best.

Examples of Employer Writing Samples

Some examples of typical writing samples employers request:

  1. Assume you are applying for a business management position. The writing exercise sets up this scenario: Your supervisor has given you a letter from an unhappy customer, stating that you (your employer) make public claim to quality customer service but that this customer has encountered an unfriendly employee (who is named in the letter) who is not responsive to their questions and has not solved the problem. Your assignment is to write a letter responding to this unhappy customer's letter. At the top of your letter, write any assumptions you are making that will make the letter clearer to the evaluator.
  2. Briefly, in one page, describe your personal characteristics that will make you a good hire for this position.
  3. Assume you will be working for a social service agency and daily summaries of your work with customers/clients will be part of your regular routine. Briefly describe what you envision to be a typical day, based on the job description, and write a daily report of your client interaction, using the appropriate format.
  4. In one page, describe one of your most significant experiences and how it has impacted you.
  5. Describe a person who you admire and tell why you find that person admirable.

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Some employers and some career fields lend themselves to providing an exhibit of your work. This exhibit is called a Professional Portfolio. Regardless of your major, it is a good idea to develop a collection of your best work. This work can be from coursework or from other employment, from volunteer work or just from your leisure time activity. The best portfolios contain a variety of documents, all done to your best ability. When preparing a presentation, be selective of what you show. Be sure they are pieces that clearly relate to the talents and skills you know are related to the job and to the employer. If you can, have someone review what you have selected and your statements about why you picked what you did.

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PLU is committed to providing equal opportunity in employment and in education for all members of the University community without regard to an individual's race, color, creed, religion, gender, national origin, age, mental or physical disability, marital status, sexual orientation or any other status protected by law.