My views against “free work” were put to the test about a year and a half ago during a hiring process. The company had interviewed me twice by phone and seemed to be a potential fit. They were looking for someone to create content full-time in the Human Resources/hiring space, and I’ve written about these topics for the last five years, being paid by great clients such as ADP and others.
However, the hiring process reached a snafu when they asked me to write a blog post for free, which I declined to do on principle. As you’ll see in the email exchange below, I pushed back against the idea that I should write content for free so they could evaluate my writing skills. I’ve published hundreds of articles and blog posts already related to Human Resources and hiring. They could have found all of these articles via a simple Google search or through this website.
Anyway, I didn’t get the job and was actually happy about that outcome. I don’t want to work for a company that expects me to work for free. Working for myself, with clients I want to work with and who pay me to support my creative endeavors, I had the best year financially of my life in 2016. So no regrets. Take a look below to see what they asked me and how I responded:
Email From HR Company X: “Hey, Chuck, please take the topic “3 tools to check on employee morale” and write it up as a brief blog post of no more than 350 words. For style, check on our company blog.”
My response: Thanks for your last message. However, as a general rule and a matter of principle, I’d prefer not to write blog posts for free, on spec, or as a test during the hiring process. I’ve already been tested over two decades as a professional writer, having written hundreds of posts for many different business clients like ADP, GE, Office Depot, and more. I love the work, as so many writers do (and I respect their decision to give work away for free sometimes), but I don’t see the need in this instance. I’m happy to share writing samples, existing first drafts, pitch samples, etc., but I have a general policy against work done on spec for free.
If you’re looking for a writing sample of mine related to employee morale and motivation, I have many. See my writing portfolio on www.ChuckLeddy.com, especially http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/08/slowing-the-work-treadmill/ and http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/03/the-power-of-thanks/.
I can offer you a few thoughts on the topic off the top of my head, but that’s the most I’ll do without a commitment of payment for services rendered:
if you want to effectively measure employee morale at a company, the best “tool” available is to simply ask your employees directly. How? Three ways: (1) an employee satisfaction survey; (2) via face-to-face interviews and conversations; and/or (3) via frequent, daily “check-ins” where managers touch base with employees about progress, ongoing concerns, motivation, whether further resources are needed, etc. Looks like you’ve already covered this topic on your blog, anyway, offering mobile apps as the solution to the problem. I love mobile apps, and use them often, but the best ways to measure and monitor employee morale are still old-school, face-to-face conversations on a daily basis between managers and their employees.
How would you, dear reader, have managed this situation and/or requests to work for free in general? Share your thoughts in the comments . . .