I graduated college about two weeks ago, but I have spent the last six months looking for a writing job. In my search, I began to see similar terms used over-and-over again. What the posts using these terms had in common is that the “job” being offered was hardly a job at all. For all those still hunting for work, be on the lookout for the following red flags.
1) “No Pay”
A job that doesn’t pay you isn’t a job. At best it’s volunteer work, and at worst it’s active corporate manipulation of desperate Liberal-Arts Majors. The king of these positions is the un-paid internship. Companies give vague promises of “experience” and “potential for later employment.” These for-profit companies bringing on unpaid interns isn’t just manipulative, it’s usually illegal as well.
2) “Boost your resume”
This line takes the terms mentioned above and places “experience” as some sort of tangible object that can be cashed in for a “real job” later.
Here’s the thing about resumes: what you have done is equally, if not more than important than where you have worked. Even if you think prestige is important, almost any company or website that carries weight in its field provides paid internships to begin with. Yes, you need to have something to show recruiters, but the difference between “barista” and “intern at Losertech” isn’t much.
3) “Increase your portfolio/Public awareness”
One of the coolest parts of the internet is that it allows citizens to create and share their content with the rest of the world. What’s less cool is that companies have realized that this system is much easier if someone else creates that content for them.
If all you want is to produce for the world, there’s no need to do it for someone else. Start a blog or Tumblr and post your work there. Acquire the necessary software and make your own website, app, or video. There’s nothing wrong with being your own boss. That is, if you are able to motivate yourself.
Similarly, there are paying websites that want your work. I spent the past few years writing for Cracked.com. All I had to do there was sign up. They paid me, gave me experience, and even wrote me a letter of recommendation. I gained all of this from my own house. The key here is that there are ways to further your career without resorting to unpaid work. It’s just hard; recruiters capitalize on that fact.
4) Social Master/Guru/Wizard/Genius/Whatever
No. Just no. Being an unpaid social anything means you will fetch coffee, post soulless corporate tweets, and fetch more coffee. Your time has to be worth more than that.
Ever worked an unpaid position? Was it worth it or should people stay away? Respond in the comments below.