Dear J.T. & Dale: I am in journalism and have been sending out my resume lately to various newspapers and magazines. Most of them require I send recent writing samples. I typically provide Internet links to these. The problem is I’m confused about where I should put the links. I normally put them on the cover letter, sometimes at the top, sometimes at the bottom. — Tiffany
Dale: Let’s start by picturing the person reading your application: Do you imagine her as sitting back, feet on the desk, leisurely reading what you sent in; or do you see someone in a cubicle, distracted by frequent interruptions, trying to get through a seemingly endless set of online applications as quickly as possible? Let’s go with the second scenario. I’m guessing your harried reader will start by scanning the cover letter/e-mail with finger on the Delete key, eager to reduce the list. That means it must be inescapably clear that you meet the basic job requirements. Nobody is going to read your writing samples if you don’t.
J.T.: So, Tiffany, following that logic, why would you put the links to samples first in your cover letter? You have to earn the right to have them read. Ideally, the writing sample links would be accessible at just that point where readers conclude that they want to read them. Because we can’t know exactly where that point will be, I’d put the links in both the cover letter and the resume. As for where to place them in each, keep in mind that your cover letter is a great chance to showcase your writing skills, so you could weave the links into your introduction. Then, also put them at the end of the resume under a separate heading called “Writing Samples.” And there’s one last suggestion on placement: Create a PDF file of all the samples and attach that, too. The PDF file makes it easier to access all your writing in one place.
Dale: Notice that J.T. used that beautiful word “easier.” In this economy, virtually no organization is overstaffed and leisurely. You can assume anyone doing hiring is understaffed and overworked. The more you can do to look like someone who will jump in and help, the better, and that starts with making yourself easy to hire.
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