Thursday, March 03, 2005

When You Should REFUSE to Test for a Job

Many freelancers are asked to test for jobs, particularly those involving proofreading, copyediting, editing and certain software skills (Quark, etc.). However, there are certain instances when you should refuse to do so.

1. If a company asks you to completely edit, copyedit, proofread, for example, a complete chapter of material. This is a red flag because the company could be farming out chapters to many different freelancers and getting work done for free.

While testing is standard, many companies who test give the same test, or a slightly different version, to all freelancers. At Inkwell Editorial, we tested, but the same test was given to all freelancers. Every year or so, we would change the test, but the same test was given to all. AND, it was usually only a few pages.

If a company is requesting that you complete a whole chapter, be wary.

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2. If a company asks for a testing fee (or any fee) OF ANY KIND: Legitimate employers do not ask you for money for anything -- ever. Do not pay testing fees, application fees, shipping and handling fees, contract fees, etc. Again, legitimate companies bear all costs.

As a recruiter, I was always amazed when applicants would ask how much we charged for our recruiting services. I would get this question at least once a week. Again, legitimate employers never charge you, the applicant, for anything. We collect all fees from employers who hire you. Further, stay away from companies that guarantee employment -- this simply does not exist -- in any form, anywhere -- ever.

3. When you are obviously qualified for a job: Although many companies have set policies and will not accept freelancers who don't test, if you have been freelancing for a while and can provide qualified references, I would not waste my time testing -- especially if the job didn't pay that well.

As freelancers, many applicants don't want to rock the boat. And, this is understandable. BUT, if you are ever going to move your career beyond a certain level, you have to start thinking of yourself in a certain light and acting accordingly.

Testing for a job that pays $15/hour may be fine for a newbie; but if you've been a freelancer for a while (and this varies, but 5+ years is a good benchmark), you have to raise your standards on the types of jobs you are willing to accept, or even apply for.
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