Guidelines on effective writing samples for job applications

A writing sample provides an employer with an example of how you organize and express your thoughts. The purpose is to convince an employer you can create the kind of written materials and handle the type of work expected of an employee in the position. A writing sample is common for positions in media, PR, law or research roles in a variety of industries.

Choosing your writing sample

Select writing samples that match the type of the writing that you will be doing on the job.

  • For journalism positions, submit “clips”—actual articles that have been published in a campus newspaper, blog, or other publication.
  • For research positions, submit an in-depth analysis of an issue or a topic.
  • For PR positions, submit a press release you have written from a previous internship or a campus event announcement for a club.  If you don’t have any, you can write a press release for an upcoming event (just make sure you specify that it has not been published).

Submit your best writing

If you are deciding between two papers, and one is better written than the other but your weaker paper is topically more relevant, choose the paper that is better written. The other option is to rewrite the relevant paper to be stronger before you submit it.  If you have questions, you may visit the writing center at Baruch to help with your document or come to Starr and consult with a career counselor.

Provide excerpts if your samples are long

Most employers will specify how many pages or how many clips they want. If they don’t, then submit 2-5 pages of writing, usually double-spaced (unless it is a clip).  This can be a combination of one or more writing samples.  If you want to use a paper that is longer than five pages, provide an excerpt with a notation at the top that tells the employer that it is an excerpt from a _(number)-page paper on ___(topic)___ and where in the paper this excerpt is from. You might share the introduction, sections of the body, and your conclusion, so the reader is still able to follow your thought process.

Proofread, proofread, proofread! 

Proofread your document to avoid errors or typos, have a someone else review your sample as well. Make sure that you send in samples that do not have your professor’s comments. Provide clean copies of your writing.

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