49 Times Business Owners Tried To Outsmart People By Posting Job Openings To Get Them To Work For Free

From retail chains to online marketplaces, some businesses allow customers to try out their products before they decide to buy them. And it’s kind of convenient. But today, more and more companies looking for employees implement the “try before you buy” concept and expect their applicants to work for free as part of the recruitment process.

Think of trial assignments ranging from presentations to entire projects all made for free. And what if a job opening doesn’t even exist? No wonder it’s so controversial. Liz Ryan, the CEO of Human Workplace, has recently shared an illuminating thread about one such instance which stirred a solid debate on Twitter.

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Liz tweeted: “I met a woman who applied for an events planning job. She interviewed for the job and they said, We want you to plan and execute an event for us as a test, so we can see how well you do.” Turns out, “there was no job opening” in the first place and “they placed an ad for a full-time events planner just to try to rope someone into planning and executing a job fair for them—for free.”

As enraging as it sounds, this is all too common among job seekers. So now people with similar experiences took it to Liz’s thread to share how employers, hiring managers, and business owners have tried to outsmart them.

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Bored Panda reached out to Liz Ryan, the author of this viral Twitter thread. Liz is a keynote speaker, multiple book author and the founder and CEO of Human Workplace. Human Workplace helps working people, job seekers and leaders navigate the human side of work. Liz also shares super useful daily advice on Twitter, so make sure to follow her!

“Whether it’s a conscious effort to get free work out of job candidates or not, it’s very common for the hiring process to include an involuntary ‘donation’ of unpaid labor,” Liz told us. “Sometimes it’s an interview that feels more like an unpaid consulting session, where the candidate explains how they would solve a business problem while the interviewer furiously scribbles down notes that will be used by the company later to solve the problem—without hiring the applicant.”


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Liz continued: “Sometimes it’s a take-home project that the candidate is required to complete if they want to stay in the recruiting pipeline. I’ve heard from candidates who have been asked to take on 30- to 40-hour projects, unpaid, just to remain in the process.”

She urges jobseekers to be on the lookout because sometimes, there isn’t even a job opening. “The company may not intend to hire anyone. I saw a startup CEO tell a room full of business people from a conference stage that he regularly posts fake job ads and interviews candidates just to get their ideas—for free,” Liz said.


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“My advice to jobseekers is to trust your instinct. After all, your trusty gut evolved over millennia to keep you safe. Listen to it!” And if you feel that your time and talents are being taken for granted in a recruiting process, walk away, Liz argues. “There’s another employer out there that deserves you on their team more than this one does.”

However, “if you submit any written work to an employer as part of the hiring process, add ‘original work by [your name], not to be used without express permission’ and the date.”

Having said that, Liz added that this isn’t foolproof. “An organization unscrupulous enough to try to steal your ideas won’t necessarily respect this boundary either—but it may stop them from using your work in, let’s say, a product brochure or on their website.”


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Moreover, Liz shared advice on things you could say in an interview if you’re asked to solve a problem in excruciating detail. “You can say, ‘I can walk you through exactly how I would put together your marketing plan [for instance]—that is, the steps I would follow to get there. I can’t tell you what that plan will look like, as I sit here right now, because I don’t know your situation well enough yet.’”

Another way to respond is to say “‘I don’t know enough about your goals, your competition, your product mix or any of the other relevant factors to design your marketing plan here and now’; ‘Here’s how I would gather the information I need to put that plan together…’”


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Meanwhile, in terms of take-home assignments, some people are comfortable donating one hour of work. “If you’re asked to do more than one hour of work for free at home, you can let the hiring manager or recruiter know that you’d be happy to complete the assignment on a consulting basis—and let them know your hourly fee,” Liz said.

When asked what the recruitment consultant thinks of unpaid internships, Liz said that they are also unethical: “they should be abolished.”


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Source: boredpanda.com

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