How well do you think I will do if I walk into any business and ask for their product or service for free?
I’m not talking about a taste of cheese or ice cream before I purchase the white one or the blue one. I’m not talking about a test drive of a car I am otherwise ready to buy.
What I am talking about here are businesses who ask potential job seekers (internal or freelance) to provide free Test work, or fill in endless tests that take many hours to complete.
How would you feel about a business proposal where I come to you and say:
“So, Mr Lawyerini I might want to hire you but I won’t know until you have won this case for me?” And unspoken, so in brackets (“and I have several other Law Dudes doing this too so you better bring your A-Game if you want this job.”)
I expect the response to contain the words Fuck & Off. Probably even one of these !
This is morally the correct response. We all understand that. So why is it that as soon as some people see themselves in the hiring role, they get all, “you need to do tests for us so we can check you out”? Later I will look at why there are people who allow this to be done to them.
Fear Is The Key
It is fear, plain and simple. Laziness & Greed are parts of the Fear Factory. Suddenly as an employer, you don’t want to waste any of your resources by making a wrong decision. You live in a place of lack and think that others are your solution. You can blame them when it goes wrong.
Why not go and check them out yourself? It is an easy world these days. Google anything and you will find the Facebook, Instaham, YouTube, Website… You should be able to see not only the person’s work but external feedback on every platform. If you don’t see a neat Portfolio then you know they aren’t for you. You know because you looked, using your senses, instead of having them tell you whatever they wanted you to hear.
Instead you make others responsible for your due diligence by making them do test work that you are not only uncommitted to in dollars but uncommitted in emotion. You will only choose the “safe” option that is exactly like something else that is currently popular. Exactly what your competitors are all doing. Safe in the herd.
Any provider who offers anything different, will have wasted their time. You have wasted their time. Time you would expect to be paid for yourself. Not only that but you have now made several business enemies. People with a propensity for self-expression (and all those Social Media platforms you didn’t check). Is this at all wise?
Dum Dum Girl
I see people every day saying that doing free work is a great way to land business. Good on you. I also see the Uncle Hipsters saying how doing free work is good for the soul – like it is charity and will get me brownie points in their impeding tyranny.
Did you start a business to work for free? Would you go to a 7 day a week 9-5 for free? I think those two words from above come back into play.
So why give in and let pretend prospective clients lure you off-course with offers to do their work for them for free? Not just the actual test job but their due diligence too? You already spent an hour making a proposal, so why do you let yourself think you owe them more?
Yes indeedy, it is Fear again. Fear that if you don’t bow to them, you won’t get the chance.
Remember that US Declaration of Independence thing: the bits about life, liberty and pursuit of happiness (which didn’t actually mean the right to be a thief)? Don’t you think that maybe this kind of client is perhaps coloring way outside of those lines? How can you make a living if all you ever do is run around trying to appease your worsers (they sure ain’t our betters)?
Giving these thieves even time of day is not only encouragement to them but encouraging your own fears about not being special enough. Not being able to do special work.
Now to the positives. Great work is done when people trust and allow, not only each other to be what they are, but the strange indefinable thing we call The Universe to have it’s hand.
The projects I have had turn out really well for myself & the client have always been the ones where the client took a look at who I am, my website and other published material first. They then had a conversation or two with me (either face to face or over Messenger) to get a feel for us as a team. They also talked openly about money as they knew that to receive (and get my heart in the game) they needed to give.
I was happy, wanted even, to get the jobs at that point and the openness made it much easier for them to guide any requests they had over work done. I could also better trust that requests were for the project, not to denigrate me. More importantly, the good of the project was the glue. We all had unexpected moments where fate was able to play kindly for us and that is how we all walked away with something better than we had before (and awards too for “Unrepentant”).
Another common thing in each of these times in my life is that I said to myself, “I don’t much mind what I do. I want to have the situation where I am most needed & valued for who I really am.” How’s that for an affirmation/prayer – I admit I cribbed it from Buddhist teachings.
Two Can Play
I will also admit I just did a bit of Test work for something. Note I didn’t write someone as while my first reaction was those two pretty words, I also realized that there was an opportunity for me. Not so much in getting that job (altho I’d love it if it was a real job, but I have my doubts) as I didn’t do the work for them but for me.
It was a children’s animated show with taking animals. I don’t get that sort of footage easily and they put up an episode to work on, complete with voice over. I saw a chance to do something I haven’t had opportunity to do before. It was a blast for me to work in that space and see the animation come to life with my sounds. I won already.
I also made a point of not Scoring the whole episode so it can’t be used. All I showed was my concept for my Composition ideas for their show. What I could bring to the project if they wanted to share in my talents & passion.
Finally, they haven’t paid for my work, so if (as I expect) they don’t hire me on, I will show that DEMO of my work (with their tags on it) to prospective clients. I won’t publish it in my public Portfolio as that would be wrong but I will show it privately to prospective clients who want to see my work across a few projects. I get something of value.
UPDATE: a few days after not hearing back as promised, I sent a simple how are we going with that work I did for you? I reminded him it was work. In a few moments I get a reply back that is so vague and full of businessy jargon words that it appears to say nothing. Basically what he said said was nope, not interested, don’t care. He also went 3rd Party – as in someone else was responsible, then alluded to us working together at some undefined place & time in another universe so he can pretend he is a good guy. As expected, a totally gutless wonder as not only can he not do his own due diligence at the start but he can’t even say “thanks for your time in this but we have to say no” at the end like a real person. See how doing this creates anger in people you insult with your lack of testicular fortitude? Don’t do this ever if you have a business as it makes you look really weak. But hey, thanks for the free video that I got to use for my own ends. I’ll remember you unfondly otherwise – not because you turned me down but because you used and abused me.