How to Create Work Samples That Enhance Your Application

When you apply for a competitive position, you may need to submit more than just a resume. Many employers require candidates to provide work samples so they can assess the quality of your work. After all, over 80% of hiring executives consider experience critical to your application, according to Finances Online. A work sample can showcase the depth of your experience while giving you an additional opportunity to make a good impression on the hiring team.

So what is a work sample document anyway, and how can you make yours stand out? Find out how to choose the best work sample for job applications and learn how high-quality examples can help you get the role you want.

What Is a Work Sample?

A sample of work serves as a test of your abilities and is a common part of the hiring process. Whether you’re applying for an entry-level role or an advanced position, work samples serve the same purpose. Potential employers use them to see how well you can do the job you’re applying for.

Some hiring managers may request that you submit work samples that you produced for a prior employer or examples that have been published. Others ask you to prepare new work or writing samples that meet their specifications.

In most cases, hiring managers ask for sample work toward the end of the hiring process. When hiring managers request work samples, it usually means that you’ve passed their initial tests and become a top candidate.

Yet you don’t have to wait for the hiring manager to request a sample of your work. As the workplace continues to evolve and in-person interviews or office settings become rarer, it’s important to use every opportunity to highlight your skills and abilities through your application. Adding a work sample to your video resume can help you connect with potential employers much more effectively.

Back Up Your Skills and Experience With Work Samples

Providing a sample might require you to do extra work, but it also gives you an additional opportunity. When you produce a high-quality work sample, you have a chance to go beyond the bullet points in your resume and back up your abilities with a real-world demonstration.

The type of sample you provide may vary from employer to employer, but it should always relate to your field. To get an idea of what you might need to provide, take a look at these work sample examples for common professions:

  • Administrative Assistant: Presentations, spreadsheets, or reports you compiled.
  • Artist: Images of your drawings, paintings, photographs, or sculptures.
  • Chef: Photographs or sketches of recipes you developed.
  • Designer: Images of websites you created.
  • Marketer: Campaigns or strategies you developed.
  • Salesperson: Charts or graphs showing the results you achieved.
  • Scientist: Peer reviews, reports, or technical documents showing your research.
  • Teacher: Assignments, lesson plans, or projects for your classes.
  • Trainer: Presentation materials or recordings from your training sessions.
  • Writer: Copies of articles or excerpts from books you wrote.

Work Samples vs. Portfolios

In some cases, potential employers may ask for a portfolio in place of or in addition to a work sample. Although they share some of the same features, work samples and career portfolios serve different purposes. Some of the most significant differences include:

  • Work samples tend to condense your skills and experience into one brief example. In contrast, portfolios often feature five or more complete examples of your work.
  • Due to their brief nature, work samples usually consist of just one page. Portfolios can include dozens of pages.
  • Work samples confirm your abilities, while portfolios showcase your growth or depth.
  • Portfolios always include work that you’ve already completed. However, with work samples, examples can be preexisting or new.

How To Choose a Work Sample

When an employer requests a work sample, it’s important to choose the one that best showcases your abilities. Follow these steps to select the right example:

  1. Review the requirements. Some employers request a specific length or a particular topic. The hiring manager may also ask for a sample that shows certain results or capabilities. Read the requirements carefully to make sure your work sample meets the hiring team’s needs.
  2. Keep it concise. It’s tempting to provide more than necessary to give a bigger demonstration of what you can do. However, for most work samples, templates ask for no more than two pages. Keep your work sample as short as possible while still showcasing your abilities.
  3. Follow the company’s style. You should avoid submitting a work sample that subverts the company’s mission or values. Review the company’s website and mission statement to make sure you’re submitting a sample that can win over the hiring manager.
  4. Check for accuracy. If you’re submitting a sample you already wrote or created, it may already be obsolete, which can reflect poorly on your application. Double-check that the information is still current, and make any necessary updates.

How To Write a Work Sample

Some employers may ask you to prepare new samples of work to specification. When you need to produce a work sample, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Confirm that you can meet the requirements. If you’re applying for an advanced role, the hiring manager may use the work sample to test you. Before you agree to complete the process, read the instructions and clarify whether you can do the job.
  2. Follow the instructions. Before you start writing or creating, read the directions carefully. It’s important to include everything that the hiring team asks for in the work sample, or you may risk disqualifying yourself.
  3. Add a personal touch. Although following directions is critical, simply going through the motions can sound robotic. Add your own touch with unique phrasing or a clever conclusion while keeping within the framework of the assignment.

Whether you’re new to the job market or you already have years of experience, great work samples can enhance your resume. When you take the time to compile your portfolio upfront and add it to your Jabord resume, you can save all your best work samples for quick access. Then you can easily provide examples of your best work while saving time and follow-ups during the application process.

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