At a time when many are searching for work, job applicants today are being hit with more and more requirements before they can land a job. Applicants can suffer through seemingly endless rounds of interviews and numerous trials, only for their potential new employer to stop responding to their emails entirely.
After one has gone through multiple failed attempts at securing a job, it can be tempting to complete more arduous tasks in the hopes that doing so will improve your employment prospects. However, this is not the case, warns TikTok user Alessandra (@workwithalessandra).
In a video with over 157,000 views as of Friday morning, Alessandra notes that some employers will ask applicants to complete massive, unpaid projects. This, she says, is not acceptable.
“Don’t fall for this,” she says of pre-employment projects. “It is literally just a way to steal creative ideas from you.”
@workwithalessandra this is how employers steal creative ideas 🚩🚩 a small project would be acceptable, but not a complex assignment that they can literally copy and paste and use to benefit their brand in the future✌🏼 #jobinterview #hiringprocess #socialmediamarketing #marketingjob #jobsearch #greenscreen ♬ original sound – alessandra 💭 social & brands
As an example, she shows a request she received from a job to which she had previously applied.
“They wanted me to create a one-week calendar for Instagram and for TikTok—for their brand specifically, not like a generic brand, their brand—for next month or in a couple of weeks,” Alessandra explains. “Why, because you need me to help build your content calendar? Absolutely insane.”
She goes on to detail the other requirements for the project, such as captions, hashtags, and posting times—things for which, as a professional social media manager, Alessandra charges.
“Please, no one do this,” she advises. In the caption, she adds, “This is how employers steal creative ideas…a small project would be acceptable, but not a complex assignment that they can literally copy and paste and use to benefit their brand in the future.”
Alessandra isn’t the only one to complain about employers asking applicants to complete projects for free. In February 2022, another applicant in the social media space alleged that a company asked her to complete “a 30-second reel, a text post, and a 3rd creative post to them for free,” sparking outrage from commenters.
Alessandra later posted a follow-up video showing how to respond to requests like these.
@workwithalessandra Replying to @Erin Smith Screenshot this to use the next time anyone asks you to work for free! 📝🥴 #marketing #jobhunt #creatives #jobsearch #socialmediamanager #greenscreen #hiringprocess #jobinterview #marketingjob ♬ original sound – alessandra 💭 social & brands
In summary, an applicant should decline the project, offer their portfolio as an alternative, and then leave the door open for potential employment. The applicant can also note that, if this answer is not suitable, they understand and are not interested in moving forward with the job application process.
For this specific example, Alessandra says in a follow-up that following her response, the company indicated that they were no longer interested.
In the comments section of her videos, users noted that requests like these were surprisingly common.
“I did this for an interview a few years ago before I knew better,” a user recalled. “Did I get the job? Nope. Did they implement the strategy I built for them? Yep.”
“I once put together a presentation comparing products after doing my own market research for an interview and found they company used it later,” another said.
“I was asked to find 10 influencers for the brand in a freelance job application,” stated a third. “I said I’d be happy to do that once my contract starts.”
Other commenters simply reminded applicants to know their worth when applying for jobs.
“Yes we all need to stick together!” a commenter shared. “The only reason that companies are getting away with giving tasks is that there’s someone out there doing them.”
“You’re the talent and they need you…always remember that,” added a second. “Never allow these companies to be in control like this.”
The Daily Dot reached out to Alessandra via Instagram direct message.