Compiling Writing Samples

Your technical writing resume might get you noticed, but it's your writing samples that will likely get you the gig. Even if you've never been hired by a company in the past as a technical writer, there is no reason why you can't prepare some samples and have them on hand to send along to potential clients. Here are some tips to ensure you'll impress prospective clients when they ask to see some evidence that you aren't just a technical genius, but also an excellent writer.

Protect your past clients' confidentiality.

During the course of your technical writing career, you will likely come into contact with highly confidential information that companies will expect you to keep to yourself. In some cases, you may even be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement to indicate that you won't discuss the project with competitors. This obviously presents some challenges if you hope to use the project as a writing sample. One possible solution is to remove any identifying details (company name, location, etc.), along with any figures or tables that might be considered confidential. Of course, always check with clients to see if this is acceptable. Disclosing confidential information can get you into legal trouble, and will likely make prospective clients a little leery of trusting you with their private info.

Have unedited and edited pieces on hand.

Some clients will ask to see pieces of your work that have not been professionally edited. The reason for this is simple - they want to know how much work will likely have to be done on your piece before it is ready for publication. They also want to know that you are capable of spotting and fixing your own errors. Have a few self-edited pieces on hand for this purpose, but be sure to proofread them thoroughly before you send them off.

Try to send something that is relevant to the position.

Make sure your samples are as relevant as possible. Obviously, if a potential client wants a white paper written, sending a few sample ones is your best bet. If you've only ever been hired to write one type of document, take some time to write some assembly instructions or a section of a training manual. It will show clients you are capable and will likely set their mind at ease.

Send more than one sample…

…unless, of course, the client requests only one. Clients usually want to get a good feel of your writing style and skill, which can be difficult if they only have one sample to go on. Typically, three is a good number to show your ability. Any more than three samples will likely be too many for the client to review.

Keep it short.

If all of the technical documents you've written in the past are 100 pages, it might be a good idea to send an excerpt. A few pages - say four or five - will usually be enough to give a client a feel for your style. Indicate that you can send the entire document for review upon request.

Your technical writing resume might get you noticed, but it's your writing samples that will likely get you the gig. Even if you've never been hired by a company in the past as a technical writer, there is no reason why you can't prepare some samples and have them on hand to send along to potential clients. Here are some tips to ensure you'll impress prospective clients when they ask to see some evidence that you aren't just a technical genius, but also an excellent writer.

Protect your past clients' confidentiality.

During the course of your technical writing career, you will likely come into contact with highly confidential information that companies will expect you to keep to yourself. In some cases, you may even be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement to indicate that you won't discuss the project with competitors. This obviously presents some challenges if you hope to use the project as a writing sample. One possible solution is to remove any identifying details (company name, location, etc.), along with any figures or tables that might be considered confidential. Of course, always check with clients to see if this is acceptable. Disclosing confidential information can get you into legal trouble, and will likely make prospective clients a little leery of trusting you with their private info.

Have unedited and edited pieces on hand.

Some clients will ask to see pieces of your work that have not been professionally edited. The reason for this is simple - they want to know how much work will likely have to be done on your piece before it is ready for publication. They also want to know that you are capable of spotting and fixing your own errors. Have a few self-edited pieces on hand for this purpose, but be sure to proofread them thoroughly before you send them off.

Try to send something that is relevant to the position.

Make sure your samples are as relevant as possible. Obviously, if a potential client wants a white paper written, sending a few sample ones is your best bet. If you've only ever been hired to write one type of document, take some time to write some assembly instructions or a section of a training manual. It will show clients you are capable and will likely set their mind at ease.

Send more than one sample…

…unless, of course, the client requests only one. Clients usually want to get a good feel of your writing style and skill, which can be difficult if they only have one sample to go on. Typically, three is a good number to show your ability. Any more than three samples will likely be too many for the client to review.

Keep it short.

If all of the technical documents you've written in the past are 100 pages, it might be a good idea to send an excerpt. A few pages - say four or five - will usually be enough to give a client a feel for your style. Indicate that you can send the entire document for review upon request.


Last Updated: 05/05/2014