How To Write A Job Application Essay

When you read the initial request, it can make you cringe. In most cases, filling out a job application is relatively painless, but if a company then requests that you include an application essay, also known as a writing sample, it's not uncommon for your nerves to kick in. Such on-the-spot exercises can illuminate a prospective employer, especially if you're applying for a job that requires frequent writing under deadline pressure; however, it's understandable that such a request might make an applicant feel anxious. Fear not. You can prepare for this task by following some sensible, straightforward guidelines. By learning how to put your best foot forward, you can dance your way through the exercise with grace and flair -- while making a lasting impression.

Budget your time accordingly. Most employers allot a certain amount of time for an application essay, such as 30 minutes. In this case, you might want to allocate 5 minutes to reading the directions and your essay choices, 20 minutes to writing and 5 minutes to proofreading and editing.

Choose the topic of your application essay carefully. Employers often give interviewees their choice of three or more topics, so follow the writer’s maxim and choose a topic with which you're familiar and can address with comfort and authority.

Read and highlight the instructions carefully. Take note of the number of paragraphs required, the word count and whether you are asked to incorporate quotes. Particularly if writing is part of the job description, focus on clarity, specificity and a logical progression of ideas.

Avoid topics, words and even punctuation that make you uneasy. As tempting as it might be to want to impress a prospective employer, you might do just the opposite if you misrepresent an idea, misspell a word or punctuate incorrectly. For example, if you're uncertain about how to use a semicolon, use a period instead. Give yourself every opportunity to succeed.

Write an engaging introduction for your job application essay. Strive for creativity, but don’t stray from the topic. Try to relate to the reader. Think of how you would verbally “speak” your essay and follow your instincts.

Write a strong topic sentence and illustrative follow-up sentences to form each paragraph. A strong topic sentence sets the subject and tone for the sentences that follow -- each of which should amplify that first key sentence, one building upon the other. There is no set number of sentences to include in a paragraph, but a good rule of thumb is to strive for at least four.

Close your job application essay on a memorable note, perhaps by tying it into your introductory paragraph. Endings are often the most difficult part of an essay to write, so consider closing with a quote or a provocative question. A good ending should bring an essay to a proper conclusion, without leaving out important information or raising new questions. It also should feel “right” and as such, read your entire essay again to see if the final sentence effectively concludes it.

Edit your words carefully, eliminating vague qualifiers such as “really,” “basically,” “probably,” “very,” “somewhat,” and “practically.” Pare redundancies, such as “future plans,” “first introduction,” and “free gift.” Strengthen your verb choices, but don’t forsake clarity for dramatic flourish.


  • Try to have fun writing your essay, but invoke humor and wit only if you're certain they will enhance your essay. Sarcasm is often humorous, but unless someone knows you and your sense of humor, it might be best to avoid it as it could backfire.


About the Author

With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.

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Welcome to English Forums. You are obviously a very bright guy, so I won't comment on the content. You can decide yourself what you want to write about and how it is written. Rather I will simply focus on the grammar portion.

I shall in the following briefly describe my accomplishments since my graduation from high school in 2001. First of all I want to point out that all the grades indicated in the text below are based on the French grading system.

After graduating from high school I was awarded a prize for my high school thesis in math from the Mathematical Department of the University of Limoges. Also, because of my accomplishments at High School (GPA of 18) I was allowed to participate at a test for high skilled students in Paris. Because of my test results I was awarded a scholarship from the French government for my upcoming studies at university. I opted/chose for the option of a double major and decided to choose mathematics [deleted words] and applied math with a minor in economics. In October 2001 I began my studies at the University of Limoges. After completing the intermediate exam at the University of Limoges in 2003 in both mathematics (“graduation with honors”, GPA of 18) and applied math combined with economics (GPA of 17) I was awarded a scholarship from the University of California at Berkeley. The University of Berkeley gave me the opportunity to spend one academic year at Berkeley.

During my first semester in Berkeley I was among the top 4% of students in the College of Letters and Science and thus was placed on the Letters and Science Dean’s Honors List. This achievement allowed me to participate in honors courses during my second semester in Berkeley.

Finally I want to mention all the memberships I currently hold. I was awarded memberships for the French Association of Physics, for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) and I was awarded a membership for efo, a French association for outstanding students. Furthermore, I am a lifelong member of the Alumni Organisation of the University of Berkeley.

To complete this section I would like to summarize my hobbies and interests beside academic ones. I enjoy sharing a big part of my spare time with my girlfriend and my family. In addition, I spend some part of my free time listening to music and I also practice some sports. I run [changes made] on a regular basis and occasionally I play tennis and table tennis.

I learned of the banking seminar in Paris using the Career Search database of efo. I would like to apply to your seminar since I am very interested in participating at this event. [Last sentence doesn't say much.] From my research on your web site, I believe there would be a good fit between my skills and interests and your demands.

Currently I am working towards my Master’s Degree at the University of Limoges. I plan to complete my diploma Degree? in both mathematics and applied math with a minor in economics no later than at the beginning of 2006.

Through the study of mathematics I could [or have?] develop strong analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. In addition, with? the combined major applied math and economics I could [or have?] learn about applications of mathematics and I could [or have?] gain additional knowledge in computer science and economics. In the latter one I specialized in political economics.don't understand last sentence.

During my recently completed academic year at Berkeley, I found the conditions excellent to not only pursue my studies but also to improve my knowledge of the English language. In addition, I have a very good knowledge of German. why not just say you are fluent in German?

I believe that the combination of analytic skills I could develop during my studies of mathematics and additional knowledge in computer science and economics is well-suited for a job in a branch like investment banking. Furthermore I have a strong private interest in stock markets and current economic issues and I am really interested in an investment banking position upon completion of my degree. Also, I have often heard about JPMorgan in the context of projects in investment management, and my aspiration is to work for a company that has your excellent reputation.

All in all to participate at the banking seminar you offer in Paris would be an opportunity I would really welcome. I very much appreciate your time and consideration of my request, and I look forward to hearing from you.

As you stated in your opening remarks, you don't care about the subject matter, so I won't comment there. As far as English is concerned, you appear to have a strong grasp of English. I don't see any strong faults. I might change the "could" to "have" with the consequent changes that follow.

For what it is worth, blood letting continues on Wall Street and there is still excess capacity. The markets are weak and are likely to remain so for a while yet. The recent Google IPO has rocked Wall Street in that the traditional ways of making money have been shattered. Fees are coming down. In essence, the climate is tough and the competition for positions will be even tougher. That said, you have several advantages in that you have several languages, you have international experience, and you are obviously bright.

Good luck.


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