Job seeker, do you know what an “appli-ject” is? You will soon.

Talk about timely!

I recently participated in a lively blog conversation about writers/speechwriters being asked to produce new material or undergo writing “tests”—in addition to providing writing samples from their portfolios and/or websites—when being considered for work by new clients or organizations.

There was a lot of discussion about the reasons potential clients or employers might request this, weren’t our existing writing samples enough, and how or even should we be compensated for producing this work.    

Then along comes a Harvard Business Review piece called, “Projects Are the New Job Interviews,” that may settle the question for good.

The May 10 article states, “Resumes are dead. Interviews are largely ineffectual. LinkedIn is good. Portfolios are useful. But projects are the future of hiring, especially knowledge-worker hiring. Serious firms will increasingly ask serious candidates to do serious work in order to get serious jobs.”

This new way of getting work is being called “project-lications” or “appli-jects.” The article goes on: “Forget the ‘What’s your greatest weakness?’ interrogatory genre; the real question will be how well candidates can rise to the ‘appliject’ challenge and help redesign a social media campaign, document a tricky bit of software, edit a Keynote presentation, produce a webinar or peer review a CAD layout for a contract Chinese manufacturer.

“Exploitative?” the author asks? “Perhaps. But most organizations have learned the hard way that no amount of interviewing, reference checking and/or psychological testing is a substitute for actually working with a candidate on a real project.”

The article suggests that organizations that have job candidates’ work on a project prior to hiring are, in fact, making the hiring process “more holistic” rather than “over the wall,” and that they consider this aspect of hiring part of the larger on-boarding process.

It also suggests that just as job candidates get better at understanding and managing the interview process, they will also learn how to excel at “project-lications” and how to sniff out which are genuine invitations to success and which ones are sleazy bids for cheap labor, as we’ve discussed in our blog conversations on this topic.

Finally, the writer states, “It’s worth something to know what it’s like to really work with one’s colleagues on a real project as opposed to the all-too-misleading charade of iterative interviews.” Amen!

If the trends in this article hold true, more and more potential clients and organizations will ask us to produce new, “in the moment” work before they make any of us an offer.

I say, “Bring it on!

Cynthia Starks is a freelance speechwriter living in Central Indiana.

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