Woman Shows How Companies Try To Steal Creative Ideas From You


It often feels like landing a new job requires an incredible amount of jumping through hoops. You might need a connection or a recommendation to get your foot in the door. Then after several rounds of interviews, you may be informed that your employment now hinges on a huge project that you have 48 hours to complete. Good luck! But when we’re desperate for a new position, should we take on the challenge?

According to one social media manager on TikTok, Alessandra, it’s time for applicants to start setting boundaries and refusing to provide free labor. Below, you’ll find a few videos that Alessandra posted detailing her recent experience interviewing for a job, as well as a conversation with Adam Bennett of Career Prepare.

More info: Instagram

After being tasked with a time-consuming project during the hiring process, this woman decided to call out companies that deploy this tactic

Image credits: Anna Shvets (not the actual photo)

“I’m in social media marketing, I was just applying for this job. I was in three rounds of interviews and then they hit me with a project”

Image credits: workwithalessandra

“Please don’t fall for this. It’s literally just a way to steal creative ideas from you. So let me show you”

Image credits: workwithalessandra

“They wanted me to create a one-week calendar for Instagram and TikTok for their brands, specifically, not like a generic brand, but their brand for next month or a couple of weeks, September 10th to 16th, ‘Think Fall’”

“Oh, why? Because you need me to help build your content calendar? Absolutely insane”

Image credits: workwithalessandra

“They also wanted captions, hashtags, and the exact posting time delivered as a Google Slides presentation. She also gave me two days to do this, like are you on?”

Image credits: workwithalessandra

“Please, no one do this. No one do this”

“I will also post my response to this because I think people need to see what a well-written “Thanks, but no thanks, I’m not going to do free work for you” looks like.”

Image credits: workwithalessandra

You can hear Alessandra’s full explanation of the project right here

@workwithalessandra 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✌🏼 #jobinterview #hiringprocess #socialmediamarketing #marketingjob #jobsearch #greenscreen ♬ original sound – alessandra 💭 social & brands

“As a creative, this is how I tell a potential employer or a potential client: ‘Thanks, but no thanks, I’m not going to do this free work for you’”

Image credits: workwithalessandra

“The amount of times I’ve been asked to do a crazy big project for someone I don’t even work for is like, really insulting. So I have written this message many times over the years, but I think this one is just worded the best, the most professional, so screenshot it and feel free to use it. I always start by mentioning the project scope because it’s so detailed and complex. That’s why I’m saying no, if it was a simple half-hour/hour project, that’d be fine. So I mentioned it’s a detailed project, I’ve got 9 years experience in marketing, I’d be happy to expand on anything in my portfolio and also be willing to walk you through verbally the project you asked me to do. So I’m not saying no, completely. I’m letting them know, like, “Hey, I’m still open, but I’m not going to do this whole big custom project for you.” And then I let them know if it is a deal breaker, that’s fine. I thank them for their time so far. Their response will tell you everything you need to know. Good luck out there and know your worth and don’t do free work. Thank you.”

Later, she explained how she typically responds in situations like this

@workwithalessandra Replying to @Erin Smith Screenshot this to use the next time anyone asks you to work for free! 📝🥴 #marketing #jobhunt #creatives #jobsearch #socialmediamanager #greenscreen #hiringprocess #jobinterview #marketingjob ♬ original sound – alessandra 💭 social & brands

“This is what ended up happening. So not a huge surprise, they did not want to move forward with my candidacy”

Image credits: workwithalessandra

“And if you look above, this is what the hiring manager said. Now, here’s the thing, if they wanted me to create one video, and make one post, that’d be totally fine. But in the social media world, you can literally copy and paste a content calendar and use that across your whole brand. The project was so massive that it would literally be a half-month of work for a freelance client of mine. And I’m just not willing to do that for a brand I don’t even work for. It’s also just a huge red flag about what that job would be. So thanks, but no thanks.”

Finally, Alessandra shared an update with the company’s response to her email

@workwithalessandra An update on the job interview project 🚩 I’d rather pass on a job than do a massive amount of work for free that a brand can easily rip off and repost. 🚫✌🏼 Watch my previous 2 videos for the full story. #jobinterview #jobhunt #jobsearch #hiringprocess ♬ original sound – alessandra 💭 social & brands

“Some candidates find interviews challenging, and this can be a good opportunity for them to share skills in a different way”

According to CNBC, job interviews are getting longer and longer. It’s not unusual to undergo 6-9 rounds of interviews, and the average length of a recruitment process has reached a whopping 44 days. But how do we know when the time commitment it takes to land a new job is worth it?

To gain more insight on what is an appropriate task for companies to ask of applicants, we reached out to Career Consultant Adam Bennett of Career Prepare. Adam shared with Bored Panda that asking candidates to do a short task is a perfectly reasonable thing for an employer to do.

“It is a great way for businesses to gauge the competence of their potential employees,” he explained. “Some candidates also find interviews challenging, and this can be a good opportunity for them to share skills in a different way.”

“Applying for roles sometimes feels like a full time job”

“Personally, I think it is unlikely for organizations to use these assessment techniques only to steal ideas,” the career expert added. “But that doesn’t mean to say that if you have great ideas that they won’t use them!”

But when it comes to assigning projects, Adam says that companies need to be fair in the amount of time they expect candidates to invest into the process. “A three stage interview process plus a significant task will take 20+ unpaid hours, and most candidates will be unsuccessful,” he told Bored Panda. “Applying for roles therefore sometimes feels like a full time job. For me, a short task that takes an hour or two is much more reasonable.”

Adam also urges applicants to make sure they gain an understanding of the process and expectations at the start. “Do not make a decision based on the potential for an employer to ‘steal’ your ideas. Instead focus on whether it is a worthwhile investment in your valuable time.”

“Organizations should minimize the time investment needed to secure a role”

“Consider the chances of securing the role and other wider benefits of completing the exercise. If it isn’t, be open and honest with the potential employer and explain why,” Adam continued. “Only when they see good candidates are pulling out because their process is too involved will they reconsider.”

At the end of the day, the career expert says companies and applicants should try to find a healthy balance. “A robust and thorough recruitment process benefits both the employer and the candidate,” Adam noted. “However, organizations should minimize the time investment needed to secure a role.”

We would love to hear your thoughts on Alessandra’s videos in the comments below, pandas. Have you ever been tasked with a project like this when applying for a job? Feel free to share, and then if you’re interested in reading another Bored Panda article discussing career advice, look no further than right here.

Viewers shared their thoughts on huge projects like these, and some shared similar experiences of their own

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