There are very few surprises associated with job applications for executive support roles. After you’ve finalized your cover letter and perfected your resume, all you typically need to do is wait for the interview. So, why are you suddenly being asked to submit a writing sample as part of the preliminary application process?
“It’s becoming increasingly common for employers to request a writing sample for high-level, executive support roles,” says Brooke Campbell, a Director within The Execu|Search Group’s Office Support division. “These opportunities require you to communicate on behalf of the executive—sometimes directly from their email address. As a result, prospective employers will want to ensure you can communicate clearly, professionally, and effectively across all forms of written communication.”
With employers placing such high value on writing skills, you’ll want to ensure you are prepared with a strong writing sample. If this feels daunting, don’t let this task discourage you from applying! Learn how to select (or write) the right writing sample with this foolproof formula:
Follow the instructions
The first step you should take is to review the employer’s instructions carefully. They may ask for something specific—like a research paper or a sample email—and your ability to follow the prompt can be just as revealing as your writing skills.
Match the company’s tone
You’ll want to ensure that your writing sample is relevant to the position and company you are applying to. As a result, you’ll want to do some basic research on the company and the executive to learn about the overall brand and how they communicate with their stakeholders. Your writing sample should match this tone in the closest way possible.
Make it relevant
In a similar vein, try to make your writing sample as relatable to the job description as possible. For example, if the role will require more creative writing, choose a writing sample that highlights this skill. If the position requires more organizational or task management skills, you might want to submit a well-crafted meeting memo.
Unless specifically told otherwise, your writing sample should be one to two pages, max. The goal is to not only give the employer a sample of your work, but also show them you can be clear and concise. Anything longer than two pages can distract them from the task at hand.
While it may sound like an elementary mistake, it’s easy to accidentally misspell a word when typing. As a result, be sure that you read over your writing sample before you send it. A simple typo or grammar mistake can raise some red flags about your attention to detail—automatically taking you out of the running for the position. If you struggle with spelling and grammar, check out free tools like Grammarly that can help you improve your writing process.