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Jon Askill's picture
413 pencils

Am I standing my ground reasonably or not...?

Hi all,

I wanted to ask your advice on a job opportunity that has come my way. I recently applied for a job by sending my resume and portfolio to the employer - a design agency of sorts, though it could be a one man band.

They got back to me saying that they were impressed with my resume and portfolio and would I be interested in doing 3x advertisements for one of their customers - to which I replied with a yes.

I received the brief from the employer last Friday, and was asked if i'd be able to attend an interview (this week). I replied, saying that i'd work on the brief with a view to getting preliminary designs for the adverts early this week and was available for an interview on certain days this week...

I worked on the adverts x3 over the weekend, and had no further email from the employer regarding the interview - which annoyed me to be honest.

Today, I emailed the employer asking if I'd be able to have an interview this week, as discussed. he replied saying that he was waiting for my designs as discussed, and would THEN be able to give me an interview.

This pissed me off to be honest. I've had heated discussions with my girlfriend - who says that with the current economic climate, people are bending over backwards for employment - Yadda yadda yadda. So she says i should just submit the designs.

I feel that I was enticed with the prospect of an interview with this employer to do adverts for him, and now he's holding me to ransom just to give me the time of day, when under normal circumstances, a resume and portfolio would suffice to enable an employer to shortlist candidates for interviews.

Getting designers to do 3x adverts on a wing and a prayer for what seems the deciding factor on getting an interview or not, is unreasonable an unfair in my opinion, and he gets 3x how ever many other poor dicks he's got dancing for him - worth of designs to show his customer. I also feel that i'll ultimately be judged on the 3x designs that I do, from a poorly worded/conceived brief, which I can't work naturally with. Normally I'd be able to talk and advise a customer and then hammer out an action plan, and get some concise details on marketing direction, but as it stands, the brief seems to idealistic, has way too much information and ends up like 4 dogs tied together chasing 4 different foxes - with hilarious consequences... so to speak.

Am I being unreasonable? is this employer exploiting people under the current economic climate? Ultimately, I've never heard of, or had to do design work just to get an interview AFTER I've submitted a resume and portfolio. I said to my girlfriend that If I had to shortlist candidates to interview, then a resume and portfolio would give me ample information for that decision - and as i said, i've never heard of such requirements. She just thinks i'm being the usual hothead, but i'm not being exploited by a 'design agency' with a pretty mediocre portfolio for that matter. Saatchi and Saatchi - it aint.

Your thoughts as always - are greatly appreciated even if just a single line to the effect of - Jon you're being unreasonable; or; Jon, you are standing your ground wisely...

I already have a bad taste in mouth and maybe should just steer clear.


>> Cookie cut the chaos >>

Commenting on this Forum topic is closed.

mrcoupon's picture
345 pencils

Sounds like a scam. Having a "design test" for applicants is not unusual, but 3 finished pieces before even an interview, that's extremely suspicious. Did you search for info/reputation on this company? Even if legit - if he's treating you like that now, you aren't going to enjoy working for him.

You already worked on the files, so might as well do something with them. Send him a flattened PDF with a prominent watermark across it.

Art D. Rector's picture
3162 pencils

In my experience - the guy is taking advantage. There are brokers out there representing themselves as "designers" or "agencies" who use this scam to get their design work for free (which is probably why their "portfolio" is not that impressive). If you decide to proceed, do as Coupon suggests - give them a PDF they cannot use (watermarked, lo-res, locked, etc...) Of course, they can still steal that design by presenting your pdf to another designer and saying you "screwed them over on price" or something and have the new designer recreate your work for a minimal fee. However - that is something we as designers just have to live with in today's world.

If - by some miracle - these guys turn out to be honest and actually give you the interview and want some work (or want you to finish up this project) - get some cash. You've put forward enough effort to get a little coin. Get a deposit and terms for the final pay out. If they're legit they'll respect you for standing your ground - (allegedly) they're designers too - they should know exactly where you're coming from.

I know it's tough in today's economy, but in the future - your portfolio and resume should be enough. The "test" stuff and "trial designs"? The legit places simply don't do that. If somebody asks for work of any kind - get a deposit and terms for a kill fee if they don't like the end result. It's amazing how fast a deposit weeds out the bums and con artists. But honestly - it should never come to that. That's what your portfolio is for - to show people where you're at as a designer. Your resume and references cover the other aspect - are you reliable, sociable, hardworking, etc... If they can't take a chance with that much info available - they're probably trying to take advantage of you.

Good luck.

Art D. Rector's picture
3162 pencils

Almost forgot - VERY important. The con jobs love to pull your friends down too. If you don't know Quark (for instance) - they'll ask if you know anyone who does. Do not offer up any names - that is one way they refresh the supply of new designers to abuse.

thornysarus's picture
930 pencils

I second the watermarked PDF proof idea.

Terrell Thornhill

e-zign Design Group

Jon Askill's picture
413 pencils

Hi Guys, That's exactly what I needed to know, and I REALLY appreciate your thoughts.

I've decided not to even reply to his latest email. I really liked the watermark idea from Mr C as it seemed like a good compromise, but then Mr C himself along with a great explanation from Art D, just made me think - 'Do I want to work for this guy at all - after such bad vibes at an early stage?'.

I could watermark the designs, but i'm thinking that at best, he'll finally offer me an interview - which is all I wanted; and thus only finally gaining the CHANCE of a job and a totally bad taste in my mouth anyway, and I can't really bill him for work done either way, and on top of the fact that he's been quite cunning and basically held me to ransom, i'm not even going to give him the time of day, let alone any ideas - which he'd be able to just get another work ass to copy.

@ Mr C - I did scamp around on the internet and found no info - good or bad on the company after many a Google search. All that I found was an OK website with annoying navigation. I even tried keyword searches with scam, artwork, potential job offer - the lot, but to no avail. My gut feeling is that his company is on the rocks and he's trying to keep one of his remaining clients happy by pulling a fast one, because he can't necessarily pay anyone to do it or do it himself.

@ ArtD - really appreciate your lengthy and insightful input. You put the final nail in the coffin on this one and offered me your knowledge for this and future situations. I take my hat off to you sir.

@ Thorny - Many thanks, along with the initial good suggestion from Mr C; I nearly went this way as it put a smile on my face as he often does, but I'm not giving this dude the time of day as i've already wasted enough time already; he can sing for it, and not giving him anything gives me the 'illusion' of somehow clawing back some respect from this. I hope this is a very small victory for the designers, although I don't doubt that his tricks will have worked with other designers.

Thanks again guys.

The company is as follows for your info, but i've put it below in a way that it doesn't show up on Google, I don't want a lawsuit on my hands - even if the chances are slim.

All one word....

cr eat ive in sig ht (dot) co (dot) uk

Mediocre - you may agree ;)

>> Cookie cut the chaos >>

Jon Askill's picture
413 pencils

Wow, I just found an advert for this very job from almost 1 month ago.

Bearing in mind that he contacted me less than a week ago; maybe his job search isn't going so well - I'd have thought he'd be spoiled for choice from the sheer number of applications that I know are made per job at here in the UK for graphics in this day and age; so wouldn't need to be contacting designers 3 weeks later to do 'live briefs'. Hmmm.

>> Cookie cut the chaos >>

YoungZM's picture
915 pencils

I wouldn't send him anything based on the lack of respect he's showing you. If he can't respect potential clients enough to hold their briefs and projects private until completion and a designer to be transparent and fair, then I'd pass all together- probably wouldn't be worth the hassle of the loops he'll throw you through later. The fact that this ad is a month old and he wants a final copy submitted within a week tells me he's probably already late on his designs that he needs to be tossing his client yesterday- of which if you're not the only one applying he'll have his pick.

I'd still do the political garbage of thanking him for the consideration but you'll be moving on, something to that tune.

ItalianMike's picture
303 pencils

I would walk away, unless work has been really slow and you are struggling to pay the bills. As a freelancer it's always a tough decision to make. However his behavior is incorrect and very suspicious. To go into a working relationship when you already have doubts can only lead to problems and regrets down the road. There is a high risk he either rips off your work or tries to eventually screw you over on money offering less than the work is worth.

gwells's picture
1707 pencils

i'll just echo what the others said. legit agencies just don't do this. asking for free work that they'll present to a client without compensation is completely unprofessional. it might be different if he was offering you a single freelance opportunity in advance of an interview, but hey, would you hire a freelancer without interviewing them at all if you have the opportunity to?

naw, this guy is either a scammer or just not the kind of person you want to work for. you'd be watching your back all the time watching for the knife.

Art D. Rector's picture
3162 pencils

Always glad to help, Jon. Your latest post suggests he's always phishing for new designers. That's a bad sign - it means he either never pays his designers or nobody wants to work for him... or both.

natobasso's picture
3951 pencils

Yep, they are just trying to get free work out of you. Don't fall for it. An ethical business will hire you for what you can bring to the table and remunerate you for your skills.

KellyR's picture
525 pencils

A reputable employer will request to see your portfolio first as a means of getting an understanding for your skills. If they require you to prove you have the skills demonstrated in your portfolio, they'll do so after conducting an interview with you.

It's in bad taste to request anyone prove their work skills in this manner in order to obtain an interview.

mara06's picture
2747 pencils

All of the above. This just screams phishing.

In olden days (ahem), employers would do similar advertising to gather resumes that they could use to back up claims to be fully compliant with equal opportunity recruitment practices. They would set up interviews with a few of the applicants, hire no one, and go out for lunch to congratulate themselves on their cleverness.

In your case, I don't think there's anything other than a scam afoot. Maybe you should ask to see THEIR portfolio!


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