Ok, so, my reasume has been reviewed, and ________ company must be considering me for a job because they’ve sent me a little something to test my skill set to make sure I’m as awesome as I said! YES! I must be in the top 10 applicants for this open position, so I’m going to do my very, very best on these assignments in order to outshine all of the other competition for this job. YAHOO!!

How many times has this happened to you, my fellow freelancers-looking-for-fulltime-or-part-time-employment? 4, 8, 12?

I learned recently, that a lot of small to medium sized firms are always advertising a position; usually one that involves a lot of little projects or high turn over work, open on their websites, occasionally advertising it on places like, Craigslist, or careerbuilder waiting for the onslaught of nibbles from eager beavers much like myself.

The position title is usually something like a Junior Designer, part time blogger or a design intern position that pays. All things that would greatly be of interest and benefit to recent college grads, college students or designers who Freelance- creative professionals who need to pay the bills.

So, we get excited, send over our resume (or CV) and get an e-mail back, usually within a few days, saying that we might be a good fit, but that our skills need to be tested first, with a series of “example” work attached in the email. Cut out a few t-shirts here, write a few SEO blog posts there, maybe even send over a few “example” logo designs for a “fictitious” client or 4, (yes, 4…it happened), and you start to think that hey, somethins’ up.

Something IS up. In order to save money, some firms are fabricating an open position, sending out actual company work under the guise of “Pilot Jobs” or “Work Tests” or “Skills Runs”, therefore getting the skilled labor they need, for free. Not only is the work they’re getting back excellent, it’s top notch excellent because the applicant is under the impression he or she is competing with a pool of other professionals for a real position.

Here’s an actual example of something that happened to me just last week.

A job posting gets found or emailed to you from a third party from places like, career builder or monster.com- where do you think they get your email?

You think, this must be ok, it’s from career builder. You click the link and wind up at an SEO website that looks pretty nice.

Here’s a link to SEOscaminc.com

Sweet. A blogging job that PAYS. I filled out the from and then…wait a second, I immediately get a “skills quiz” response…that’s super unclear…


Hi Mollie Coons.

This is Alison Smith (i don’t even know if she’s a woman, the “about” page on SEOgear is currently down) from SEOgear.

Thank you for sending your CV for a copywriter vacancy.

Please be advised that an applicant should do 3 articles a day (each article circa 500 – 700 words). (x3, mind you is 2,000 words and an entire DAY of your existence)

We need a high quality of work and are interested in a long-term partnership.

Your monthly salary will be $2500, provided that you follow all instructions and do everything properly.

First of all, we would like to make certain of your skills and ask you to do a pilot job, i.e. an article with a special key-phrases (it is sort of trial, test of the pen).

The key phrases are: 
1) mega millions ny results
2) ia lottery
3) lottery sc 

About key phrases: you have got 3 key phrases per each article and you ought to use each phrase 1-2 times.

One of key phrases should be mentioned in the first sentence of your article.

Sharp warning: the key-phrase is indecomposable, you can not use fragments of key-phrase.

Once again: key-phrase is indivisible.

About description: after your article is accomplished you have to provide its description.

Description should be no more than 160 characters.

It is like a very short conspectus, synopsis, the gist of the article.

Don’t forget that description must look engaging, winning and attractive to reader.

Your content should be 90% original. NO plagiary please.

You must complete test within 24 hours.

Please keep in mind that your articles should be captivating and moving enough and must encourage readers to share them through their social circles like FaceBook, Google+ and others.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.


So I researched the company. What did I find? An SEO company that doesn’t come up with you type it in a google search? FAIL. SCAM. SEO GEAR INC. YOU SUCK!

This is what Alison, or perhaps, Raul, heard back from me.

Dear Alison, 
I apologize for my suspicions, but I have fallen victim to schemes in the past where I have been asked to write test articles as part of a job application process only to find out the company was advertising the position for the sole purpose of making a profit off of eager job applicants. 
That said, I am grateful to receive your email regarding both the job offer and written test for the available article writer position with SEO Gear Inc and will happily proceed with it, but would like some more information about your company before doing so.
Thank you kindly, 
Mollie Coons 

Guess what? I never heard back.

Use these rules to weed out scams as you’re in the muck applying for jobs.

1) If a company emails you back within the hour, it’s probably a scam.
2) If googling a company reveals irregularities, it’s probably a scam.
3) If a company asks you to do more than ONE, I repeat, ONE skills test, it’s probably a scam.
4) Google the senders email- the one asking for your time and work. If they’re not on an about page as a listed employee, be suspicious and ask for more information about the company, it’s well within your right, especially if they’re the ones emailing you.
5) If said person doesn’t send more information to you about the company they work for, it’s probably a scam.

So, in conclusion, I urge creative professionals to have some self respect, and don’t fool yourselves. If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.

A, been there, done that, learn from my mistakes,


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