Free and Featherbrained

"Making a name for myself"… whatever that means.

Work Samples and Cover Letter- Tips and Tricks

Notes from a “How to Create a Work Sample/Cover Letter” Workshop by Grant Byington, writer extraordinaire:

Work Samples

  • 3 samples is the magic number
  • Beyond resume, first thing an employer requires to make a decision
  • Work samples are the “test drive” for the interviewer
  • In a screening process, they push the door open to interview
  • Keep a copy of work samples in an interview just in case
  • Short, self-contained work is the best kind of sample
    •    Can be read in one sitting
    • If it is formatted or designed, that is ideal
    •  If it’s in a magazine/booklet/brochure/etc, then that is awesome.
  • Have interesting, timely topic
    • Topics that relate to the past ain’t that great. Ones that are in the present are best
  • If something has been written that is applicable to a job that I’m applying for, include it
  • If something hasn’t been written, demonstrate that you can write that type of thing
  • Designed sample
    •  Your best choice
    •  Obtain permission from the person who commissioned the work
    •  If there is designed work, then have high-resolution files
    •   Print pieces ONLY if on website. Send URLs under separate cover
  • Formatted samples
    •  Still good choice
    • Use standard formatting
      •   1 inch margins
      • Calibri or Times New Roman 12pt
      •  Use header and footer for easy identication
    • White paper, black ink
  • NO:
    •  Hand-written work
    • Work in progress
  • Read stuff backwards to catch every word
  • Read it outloud
  • It is sometimes okay to show work done with a group

Cover Letter

  • Follow a business letter format
  • Why you’re writing someone
  • Refer to stuff on works and resume
  • And why you’re an ideal candidate for the job
  • Be personal without being too informal
  • Gives them a sense of what to do next about me
  • Have a call to action

Check out Grant Byington and his blog:

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Creating a Resume – Tips and Tricks

Notes from a “How to Create a Resume” Workshop by Grant Byington, writer extraordinaire

  • Headhunter=coaches on what to do ‘bout jobs
    Have RELIABLE contact information (correctly-spelled name, reliable telephone number, etc.)
  • Resume=contact information
  • Contains:
    • Name that you want to be called
    • Experience
    • Recognition and awards= attention grabbers
    • (have all achievements and experience remembered and know what happened. Only list achievements and experience you know how to talk about)
    • Be sincere, authentic, and straightforward
  • Resume gets you in the room, is with you at the table and stays in the room after you leave.
  • Does NOT contain:
    •  A page of goals in the workplace (i.e. how much you want to get paid)  A page of fabrications (i.e. Lying about awards and work experience)
    •   A page of contact information for references
      •    Do not contain a reference sheet if the workplace doesn’t require it
      • If they do require a reference sheet, then print and have one on a separate piece of paper, titled, “Reference Sheet”, not on the resume.
  • Do NOT lie in the interview
  • Have 2 different resumes
    • Chronological resume- lists thing according to work history (by date, most recent first)
    • Functional resume-highlights of work history arranged in a way that appeals to the person hiring (i.e. have a functional resume for being an actor. The work experiences that relate to being an actor should be at the beginning)
    • Curriculum vitae- Education and what you’ve learned, the classes taken, the certificate or awards in any special interests. History of school and classes.
  • Have a “presence” in the community in which you are trying to find a job
    • 80% of the people who get jobs get it through the “side door”
    • Side door of a company=somebody knows you. You’ve got connections.
    • “Somebody knows someone who has an aunt who knows the boss.” 
    • Put yourself out there. Be out there, be present and authentic.
    • You can develop a persona that is your “writing self”, separate from actual self.
    • Make the resume ONE SHEET OF PAPER, front and back.
  • For acting resumes- don’t have more than 10 characters/plays
    • “References available upon request”, have a list of references.
  • Choose one font, white paper, black ink, prominent name and contact information



Check out Grant Byington and his blog:

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“Valerie” Choreography

Smooth choreography to the song, “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse. Choreographed by Jillian Meyers, and danced by some of my favorite female choreographers.


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