That's to read through the entire help-wanted and/or formal application before starting to compose a cover letter or fill in the application. Otherwise you could wind up investing plenty of time in a game in which the odds are against you. Frequently, 100 to 300 reply to help-wanted ads.
Some of those posting help-wanted, such as Lifehack, have you fill in a lot of detailed information on an application form. You probably have spent a good half hour or more.
ONLY THEN comes the requirement that you complete, for free, an assignment.
For Lifehack it was an article.
For a job-search firm, it could be to compose an entire resume.
For a marketing company, it could be to create a strategic plan for Product X or Y.
No, not every help-wanted ad has this kind of demand for unpaid work. There are many others you can respond to without feeling you have been taken unfair advantage of.
The burden, though, is on you to scroll through the stated requirements or the formal application BEFORE you begin your response. Only then will you know if you will have to make an investment which likely will not pay off.
BTW, I have found that frequently it is the kind of help-wanted which demands unpaid work which does not mention in the ad itself the level of compensation. Lifehack didn't indicate what it pays for writing assignments. Duh.
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