My Job is Not a Contest Prize

I just came across this on Twitter:

I’m not going to link to the company (even though it’s mentioned in the image) because I don’t want to give them views for this. I am so sick of brands using contests to hire people in creative fields.

Writing, art, photography, design, etc, are professions. Each requires a unique set of skills, developed through practice, time, and education. None of them are something just anyone can do, at least not at a professional level. Just like any other career.

And like any other career, creatives deserve to be paid fairly. Forcing people to enter lengthy contests to get a job is exploiting them for free labor and brand marketing.

I know what you may be thinking — applying for a job is unpaid labor, and you have to send in samples to be considered. Isn’t that the same thing?

No, it’s not.

Here is how I got my current blogging job: I saw a job ad, sent in the application with required materials, waited, was contacted for an interview, knocked said interview out of the park, was asked to write a brand-specific sample post, waited more, was offered the job.

The bulk of my merits were considered based on work I had already completed. I was not asked to do additional work until the very last stage of the hiring process, and that blog post was not published until after I was hired. At no point in the hiring process was my candidacy used to boost the brand’s cachet.

It’s understandable to privately ask for a single piece to be sure you can work in the brand’s voice; it is not acceptable to ask for months of free labor that is broadcast as a marketing opportunity for the company doing the hiring. One is ensuring you can do the job, the other is using your need for employment to make money, improve social media numbers, and generally self-promote.

If this brand wants to hire fashion bloggers, they need to do what they would do if they were hiring people for their accounting department or legal team: post a job ad, collect applications, contact the most qualified people, interview them, then hire the best people for the job. Alternatively, they could reach out to existing popular bloggers and privately discuss contracts for sponsored content, affiliate programs, etc. There are established professional practices for expanding a company’s media reach. Making hundreds of people provide free labor and grasp at a few coveted positions is not one of them.

Look, all brands need marketing, and that’s not an inherently bad thing. My position is part of the marketing department. But brand promotion should not be done on the backs of people who aren’t being paid. People who are promoting a company should be either on staff or contracted freelancers and affiliates.

It’s unethical and cruel to hire this way. It demeans the already-underpaid creative fields and seriously exploits people who should be compensated for their work.

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