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Click here for writing samples.

A career portfolio can be quite valuable when you obtain a "real" job interview.  The portfolio can be used to impress the hiring managers and show why you are the right candidate for the job. To make the portfolio work, it has to wow them in quickly. Your portfolio will provide a wealth of information about you and your background. Portfolios can be saved and displayed in any manner that you choose.  A three-ring binder and a set of plastic sheet covers will help you present your materials in an organized manner. If you choose to do so, you can also create your portfolio online and use a blog or website to present the portfolio as an individual webpage. If possible use any and all presentation venues to display your portfolio so hiring managers can utilize any style they choose both during the interview and after the interview concludes.

Instructions for Creating a Portfolio:

1  Get the right materials. Getting an "artist presentation book or binder" is usually the best bet as it has the usual characteristics of a writing portfolio already--black on the outside with clear page-protectors and black backgrounds for each page.

2 Create your own if you cannot get a ready-made one handy. A heavy-duty black folder with sheet protectors and black construction paper covers the material base, although you may also need double-sided tape and scissors to tidy-up.

3  Collect your samples and clips as this is the most important step. Gathering a variety of samples is a good idea if you're interested in different genres. This could include press releases, articles, design or photography work. Samples could be from class or personal projects, hobby work, internships or actual published pieces.

4  Organize samples by date, with the most recent first and the oldest last. If you've decided to incorporate different genres, perhaps create a section for each one. For example, separate your press releases from your articles. Creating different portfolios for each genre is usually best unless you plan to apply for a multi-facet job.

5  Photocopy your samples and put the originals in a safe place. Using the copy in your portfolio instead of the original will enable you to crop and fit it in the portfolio properly without damaging the original.

6  Build your portfolio by replacing less important or relevant pieces or those which are class projects with published pieces as time goes on and you collect more samples. However, feel free to keep some projects if you feel it highlights your work or skills.

Writing Samples:

  • First make sure your writing sample is relevant to your audience and it shows the attributes you want it to. If you are applying for a particular job, make sure it is the type writing that is needed to help you get that job. Make sure the writing sample makes the greatest impact possible on your reading audience.
  • Writing samples can come from academic experience or work-related experience and examples include
    -Academic papers
    -Policy briefs or memos
    -News articles
    -Blog posts or web content
    -Press releases
  • Make sure you select your strongest writing pieces and make sure they are relevant to the skills you want to portray to your audience.  Only select a weaker writing piece if it shows the skills they want. 
  • The goal of a writing sample is to measure your ability to write professionally, clearly, and succinctly so make sure you choose wisely.  The best way to select is to choose a paper that is relevant to the position.
  • Many employers will dictate how long they want the sample to be. Pay attention to the directions as to the length. If the length is not listed, make sure it is of reasonable length.  Typically a writing sample would consist of 2 to 5 pages unless you are directed otherwise. If it want to use a very long paper you may want to highlight the best 2-3 pages from that paper. Some research writing samples may be longer.  If all your samples are long consider an excerpt from one of your samples-maybe a summary page of a creative speech.  Make sure the tone of the paper is in tune with the company.  There is a different tone for a graphic design firm and an accounting firm.
  • At the top of the paper write an introduction to the paper.  When you wrote it and why. Example "Please see the writing sample below which was for a class project I wrote in June 20xx to promote the need for more cancer research. I chose this as my writing sample because I believe it is a good example of my ability to effectively produce research."
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread!  Not spelling or grammar errors.

Note:  Any documents containing confidential information or that were written with the assistance of others are no-gos.


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