A reader writes:
I’m back on the job search, and I’m finding that many of the jobs I’m interested in are reachable only through one of those robot applications. As though that’s not enough of a challenge–trying to choose the right keywords to get past the front door before you even start the process–there’s that little “Additional Documents” field staring me in the face.
My career is in editing and writing, so I’m applying for anything with the word editor in it. I’ll put it short. The application doesn’t say to submit any additional documents, but do you believe there’s any benefit to submitting a writing sample? I worry because I can’t decide if it would look ambitious or excessive to submit materials that were not solicited, and the increasingly inhuman way of applying to jobs these days doesn’t help me make that decision.
Nope. If they want it, they’ll ask for it.
Write a fantastic cover letter; that’s the writing sample that they’re looking at for this stage.
The only exception to this would be if you were applying for a writing job where you didn’t have the experience they were asking for but you were in fact an objectively phenomenal writer, and your writing sample would illustrate that in a way that nothing else would.
But otherwise, it’s all about your cover letter and following instructions. (Although you can certainly include links to your work; just don’t attach separate documents.)
(Also, please read this about keywords; they’re much, much less mysterious than you may have been led to believe.)