For most job applications, all you need is a resume (or CV) and a cover letter. But there are some jobs – particularly jobs that rely on creative services – that may also request work samples. This is especially common for careers that include:
- Graphic Designer
- Content Writer
- Website Designer
Any job where the quality of your work can be seen in hard copy results generally benefits from work samples, and while not all jobs will ask for them, many will be more likely to hire you if you can supply excellent samples of your work.
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But how do you pick and choose these work samples? You have to put each one through a filter that helps you determine whether or not the samples are going to get you the role.
Questions to Ask Yourself About Each Sample:
Is This the “BEST”?
First and foremost, determine which of your samples are the best of the bunch. Only use those samples. Employers will be more impressed by 4 amazing samples than they will be with 15 samples where only 4 are amazing. In other words, limit what you turn in to only your best samples, and do not drown out those quality samples with worse ones.
How Relevant Is It?
In some cases, relevance may be difficult. For example, if you worked for years as a graphic designer for a software company, and you are applying to be a graphic designer for a school, your samples may not be similar in style. That’s okay. But if you have excellent relevant samples to the career in which you are applying, make sure those are your focus.
How Different Are They?
On the other end, if you have many samples to choose from that are all relevant to the job, find ones that differ from each other. For example, if applying to be a photographer for farmers, it is better to submit a photo of a cow, a field, and a farm than submit three photos of a farm. It shows you have range in your talent.
How Will You Present Them?
Finally, remember that the samples are not submitted alone. Make sure you consider presentation as well, including printing in high quality ink and paper, placing them in some type of folder, etc. The better the presentation, the better the first impression.
Your work samples are going to have a subjective component to them that you cannot control. But if you take the time to ask yourself questions about each one, you’ll improve your chances of picking samples that will make a real impact.