Free Riding: How Potential Employers Can Make You Work For Free And How You Can Benefit
College graduates often don’t have that much leverage when entering the job market. It’s like being a pledge. You better do what the higher ups say or else you’re cleaning the toilets. In fact, you probably already are cleaning the toilets. Do a better job or you’re out! Often, when first setting foot on the market, employers, noticing your lack of job experience, will ask if you can provide work samples that they can evaluate in order to make their determination. Wait, back up. You mean they’re asking if I can work for free, on my own time, with no guarantee of payment or even a job? Sadly, yes. It’s a tough field out there and recent college grads often get put upon the most. Nevertheless, here are a few ways to turn this request towards your advantage.
Hit it out of the park- The best way to turn this to your advantage is to pull out a homerun. Dominate that assignment. Nothing shows you can do some stellar work like, uh, doing stellar work. If you’re asked to provide a work sample or are given an assignment to do before being interviewed, slam-dunk it. Go for the gold and it may pay off with a job.
Keep it for later- If you’re interviewing within a particular work sector, having a work sample already done may be a big benefit in of itself. For example, before I get a writing gig, most of the time I’m asked for a writing sample. Instead of having to sit by and rush one out, I already have a stock of samples on hand that work pretty well. Sure, the first time you craft a work sample may be pretty tedious and it may not lead to anything. However, keep it on hand. Pass it along to other jobs. It’ll cut down on time and in between submissions you can refine it.
Volunteer to provide one- Be the go getting in this case. Turn the tables. When you’re applying for a job, off the bat, ask if they’d like a work sample. Not only does it show you as a certified workaholic, whether this is true or not, but demonstrates that you know employers are going to skeptical of you. It’s like helping an old lady across a street to impress a girl. Works every time.
There you go, three simple ways to benefit from providing free work. Do you have better ideas? Log in and comment below and tell me what you think. Or tell me that you hate me. Either way let me know your thoughts and feelings.