Millennials and Boomers: Is Working for Free a Good Career Strategy?

Time was when a newly graduated job hunter might be asked to work for free, i.e., complete a project, provide ideas in writing, etc.  It was understood that if the company used the work the candidate would be compensated.  Now imagine the candidate is 55.  She’s got a portfolio, recommendations, a loaded resume — and still the hirer wants the candidate to design a project or solve a problem without compensation!  Millennials and Boomers is this necessary?  In the past three months six clients have been asked to complete work that, if used, would not be paid for.  If he/she were offered a job the work still would not be paid for.

Millennials and Boomers

What’s going on here?  Hirers have convinced themselves that Millenniasl and Boomers (for different reasons)  are so desperate they will do anything to get an offer, even give work away! This is not true for the strong, talented, and confident.  These attempted rip offs are clothed as follows:

1. “It gives us a better way to evaluate your work”  That is not the candidate’s problem.  If the hirer doesn’t know good work (or more likely what kind of work he wants) that is the hirer’s problem.  I know if no case in 35 years in which the mere act of agreeing to produce useable work wasn’t a deal breaker.  One side or the other walked.  Don’t think dollars, think of this as a test of your ego.

2.  “We ask all candidates to prepare a presentation on our material.”  Why?  Could you possible understand in-depth something on which you spent a few hours?  To make a short presentation on what you’ve done and know well is just a variation on interviewing.  Preparing something new is unreasonable.

3.  “We don’t want to waste your time if you’re not right for the job.”  Asking someone to do free work is a waste of the victim’s time.  Why should anyone not on the organization’s payroll be adding value?  Not-for-profits like to play this game.  They believe if they interview enough candidates all their problems will be solved for free!  (Pity the poor interviewer who is supposed to be collecting “useful” ideas.)

Am I suggesting that any attempt to get useable work from you for nothing should be turned down?  That’s an order, not a suggestion.  Never mind that such offers are a form of theft.  If you get an offer and take the job you’ll never get over the way you were treated.  How else does the organization exploit and disrespect its employees, customers, suppliers?  A culture that exploits any vulnerable person — and no one is more vulnerable than a job hunter — doesn’t stop there.  Millennials and Boomers:  Don’t consider becoming part of that kind of culture!

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Related Posts:

Generational Communication: Suggestion or an Order?

I Want a Job I Can Leave at 5 p.m.

What Job Hunters Really Want

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