Most of the job posts you’ll encounter during your search will involve simple application requirements. Employers typically ask for a resume, a cover letter, and sometimes an attached link to your website. At the very most, you may be asked to submit a list of references.
But for some employers, simple application requests result in a staggering mountain of submissions. So to stem the flow of unqualified resumes, and to discourage applications that are part of mass mailings, these employers will often make the process a little more complex by requesting specific items, including work samples, portfolios of past projects, or even a special project completed specifically for the purpose of the application. So how should you respond when you’re asked to jump through a few hoops in order to apply for a job? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Don’t Work For Free
First, if the project will require a time investment of 30 minutes or less and you really want the job, comply. Give the project the best effort you can afford during this timeframe. But if you’re asked to invest hours or days, pause before you respond.
Feel free to attach a similar project you’ve already completed for a previous employer (Unless the project involves privileged company information, you don’t have to ask you previous boss first). In your cover letter, explain that the work you’ve attached is representative of your best.
Alter the request into something you can complete in 30 minutes. For example, if the post asks for a detailed twelve page marketing plan, summarize your potential plan and provide one page of bullet pointed highlights. In your cover letter, explain how you adapted the project but still managed to covey the basic message.
Clearly communicate your questions. You have nothing to lose by doing this. Contact the company and ask them how your work will be used, how it will be evaluated, and the likelihood of your efforts paying off in the form of an offer.