If you're a writer or editor who's ever applied for a job, you know about The Hoops. The hoops you have to jump through in order to obtain a full-time gig. As you listen to your friends' simple stories of success—the one and only interview that landed them the job at the consulting firm or engineering lab—you know that this will never be you.
"So, what are they making you do?" one of my friends asked when I explained that before I could come back in for a third interview, I'd have to conceptualize and write the text for an advertising campaign.
In all of my combined months of unemployment, I've probably written or edited my way through the equivalent of one year of work for employers who chose not to hire me. I've edited scholarly articles and doctored stories, written text for travel guides and marketing materials, and laid out pages using desktop publishing software, among countless other projects. And this was usually after I had already submitted 2-4 writing samples.
I understand that competition in my line of work is fierce. Companies have to be sure they're getting what they pay for (even if what they're willing to pay is criminal). But it seems to me that, more often than not, they're getting the milk for free. And often.
Perhaps one day, I'll lead a writers' revolt. In the meantime, I should really get back to that advertising campaign.