I apologize for skipping last week. We had tornadoes on the Cape. While I was not hit, there was a lot going on as far as power outages and damages and clean-up. I did not get this chapter finished and posted.
Our story so far:
Small business owner Fred wants to hire a part-time marketing person for his floor installation business. His buddy Kurt and Kurt’s wife Sandy hire part-time workers at minimum wage off Craigslist ads, and have them do other tasks in the office. Fred posts an ad and is surprised he receives answers from all over the country, that many of them are misspelled, and many of them don’t even send a resume.
Chapter 2: Fred Asks for Writing Samples
Fred and Margaret go through the responses. There are five people who sound promising: Jenny, Walter, Brianna, Cole, and Mallory. He likes the cover letters Jenny, Walter, and Brianna sent. They are friendly, and sound like they actually know what they are doing. Those three are also the only ones who included writing samples. Jenny and Walter sent links to online portfolios; Brianna sent links to some of her previous work.
Jenny’s focus is more on the words. She talks about “partnering with a graphic designer.” Fred wonders if she has that partner in the office, or if she expects him to provide the graphic designer.
“Just hire someone who does both,” said Kurt.
“Make sure they have Photoshop skills,” adds Sandy.
“Yeah, like you’re going to get a decent graphic designer who also writes for minimum wage,” his daughter snorts.
Walter seems to do both. Brianna seems to focus more on something called “gifs” that go on social media. He’s not sure what Cole and Mallory do.
He asks Cole and Mallory to send writing samples of their previous work. He can’t open the file Cole sent him (and he even asked for it to be sent as .doc). Mallory sends him something about a sale at a souvenir shop.
None of them have written anything about flooring. Well, maybe Cole did, but Fred can’t open the file, and he’s too embarrassed to tell Cole.
“Ask them to write something about your company,” said Kurt. “Ask them to look at your website and Facebook page, and write something as though they already worked for you. Then you can see whether or not they know how to write about flooring.”
Fred sends the email to all five of his prospects, asking them to look at the website and write an ad about an upcoming sale.
Walter sends him something that looks good, but there are typos in the words. “If he doesn’t know the difference between ‘there’ and ‘their’ I am not impressed,” says Margaret.
Brianna sends a gif. Fred guesses it’s supposed to be funny, but he doesn’t get the joke.
Cole sends him a file he can’t open. This time, Fred asks him to re-send it in a different format. It comes in the same format.
Mallory sends him a long piece of something about how wonderful bamboo floors are for the environment. It’s about four pages long, and Fred has no idea how he would use it.
Jenny sends him a quick email asking, “How much do you pay for project-specific samples?”
It had never occurred to Fred that he was supposed to pay for them. He asks Kurt, who says, “It’s part of the interview process. You don’t pay for it. THEY are supposed to impress YOU.”
Fred responds to Jenny that he considers the samples part of the interview process, and doesn’t pay for them.
“I have a policy not to provide project-specific samples without a fee,” Jenny responds. “You have the link to my online portfolio. You can see if my samples have the tone and the quality you need for your campaign.”
“But they’re not about flooring,” Fred responds. He doesn’t say that he tried to put the word “flooring” in various articles, and it didn’t quite work.
“If I can write about biofuels, wind turbines, alpaca farms, and new kitchen gadgets, I can write about flooring,” Jenny replies. “Too often, companies ask for free samples, tell all the writers they’re not hired, and then use the samples without paying for them and without permission. My rate for project-specific samples is lower than my regular rate, but I don’t do it for free. Thank you for your time, and I withdraw from consideration.”
“She’s an arrogant little bitch and full of herself, isn’t she?” Kurt says, when Fred tells him what happened. “You don’t need her attitude.”
“But she said people use the free samples without hiring or paying the writer,” said Fred.
“Of course we do,” snorted Kurt. “Cost of doing business.”
That bothers Fred. To Fred, it seems like stealing. Besides, he liked Jenny’s writing best.
“Interview them,” Margaret encourages. “See who you like best in person.”
How do you feel about unpaid writing samples? What’s your experience?
Next week: Fred interviews the candidates.