Though the occupation search can sometimes be daunting, social media manager Alessandra asked her followers to refrain from desperately agreeing to complete projects for free in hopes of getting hired. On 24 August, she posted a video to her page, in which she indicated that free work is a way companies can steal creative ideas from their prospective employees.
Alessandra used her previous experience, going through three interviews for one job, to support her argument. She explained how after all the one-on-ones, the company asked her to do “a project so out of pocket”.
“Please, don’t fall for this. It’s literally just a way to steal creative ideas from you,” she begged before continuing on.
The task she was asked to complete entailed drafting a one-week calendar of content for both Instagram and TikTok, to promote their personal brand in the next few weeks. “Oh, why, because you need me to help build your content calendar?” Alessandra rhetorically asked. “Absolutely insane.”
She went into more detail, explaining how the company asked her to create the captions and hashtags and when they should be posted. Her deadline to complete the task was only two days, and she was asked to put all her ideas into a Google presentation. “Are you on [drugs]?” Alessandra exclaimed. “Anyway, please no one do this.”
Under the video, which has now gained over 158,000 views, she wrote: “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.”
In a follow-up video, Alessandra offered her advice on respectfully declining a company’s request for free work during the interview process. She inputted a screenshot of a message template she’s used, in which she starts by addressing the project’s scope in connection with her existing experience. Then, Alessandra offers to expand on her previous projects or offer her expertise over the phone with employer.
“So, I’m not saying no completely. I’m letting them know: ‘Hey, I’m still open. But I’m not going to do this whole big custom project for you,’” she said.
Thankful followers flocked to her comments section, commending her for her resilience in not letting a prospective company boss her around. “I get so sick having to do this for companies only to then get ghosted and them implement the ideas,” one viewer admitted.
Another individual noted: “I will never understand why they ask for a portfolio if they still want you to ‘prove’ yourself with a project. Like HOW is my portfolio not enough.”
“With every GOOD job I’ve had in the past, I received a job offer after ONE interview and no project. An employer recognises talent when they see it,” Alessandra replied.
“You’re better than me because I would’ve pointed out how unethical it is to try and solicit free labour,” another commenter added.
The Independent has reached out to Alessandra for a comment.