I would hate for the coldness of the world to turn you into a cynical person, but it is healthy and essential for everyone to set boundaries! There are a lot of sleazetastic people around who will try to get you to work for them for free.
Some of them are employers who will give you lengthy and complicated ‘assignments’ to complete during your interview process. Be suspicious! Sometimes there is no job available. The employer just wants to get free consulting work. I sat in a meeting with a not-for-profit executive who blithely told the group of us in the meeting that she interviews candidates for non-existent jobs a couple of times per year “to get ideas.” Even principled people don’t always think about the ethics of their actions.
When you’re interviewing for a job, don’t create a presentation or a marketing plan for free. You can say “It sounds like you’re interested in having me perform some consulting work for you. Shall we talk about fees?” If there is a written component of the interview process and you want to participate in it, go ahead and donate one hour of work — no more — to your possible future employer.
Don’t accept an invitation to go the their office and present your work. Our client Natalie did that and found that the room was full of team members who had no say in the hiring process. Her own manager, the one who had assigned Natalie to create a plan and present it, didn’t even have the courtesy to show up. Natalie had never been in that situation before. She gamely gave her presentation and then, since no one was there to talk with her after the presentation, started packing up her things to go.
André Beukes is an EU Management Consultant to international companies doing business in Europe. He provides clients with practical business support that makes a real difference doing business in the EU. “Put simply, I am here to help you meet your challenges. I believe in the importance of doing things correctly, meaning risks are reduced and problems are avoided.”