Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Writers' ripoff...

A friend of mine has been looking for a full time job for quite some time.  She really needs the work, since she's the main breadwinner in her family.  Her husband has a serious disability and she has a young daughter.  Money is tight, and a full-time salaried position with benefits is what she really wants and requires.

Imagine how excited she was a couple of weeks ago when she was invited to interview for the kind of job she needs!  She sailed through a phone interview, then submitted a writing sample to the company.  They liked the sample, and invited her in for a face to face interview, which she said went well.  On the morning of the interview, she dressed professionally and applied makeup, then braved the traffic and burned the gas to meet the interviewers in person.  She was told that she'd hear about whether or not she got the job sometime this week.

At this writing, I don't know if she's going to be hired.  However, I do know that the company evidently really liked her writing sample, of which she'd enlisted several friends on social media to critique and help edit.  How do I know this?  Because her sample was used for an ad on LinkedIn.  She was neither credited for the work, nor paid for it, nor has she been offered the job.

I, myself, haven't looked for a "real job" in a long time, but evidently this is a new trend in American companies wanting to hire people for their writing skills.  They assign potential employees writing assignments under the guise of wanting to test their abilities.  The assignments typically require some work.  Sometimes the work required is substantial.  Most of the time, the companies expect the applicants to do the work free of charge.  While I see nothing wrong with testing applicants to make sure they can write before hiring them, I do think it's wrong to use someone's writing sample without crediting and paying them for it.

Based on comments on my friend's post, it sounds like this practice is becoming more and more common.  While I can see that many companies like to get free labor, it seems unethical to rip off a job applicant's work.  Most people job hunt because they need the money.  I have to admit, reading about this practice leaves a bad taste in my mouth, too.  My friend is college educated and intelligent.  She has good skills and deserves to be compensated for her time and effort.  I thought the US got rid of slavery in the 19th century!

I'm sure my friend will let us know if she gets an offer.  If she does get one, she'll probably take the job, since she really does need the money.  Unfortunately, the fact that these folks used her work without permission or compensation is a hint of how they will treat her once she's on the job, if they deign to hire her.  I think it's unprofessional, unethical, and it makes me think working there would be a nightmare.  I wish my friend luck and hope that if she gets this job, it will lead to something a whole lot better.

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