Why Candidates Should Bill Organizations for Work Completed Before Hiring

Image of a Red flag on a rocky beach indicating danger ahead and the words Red Flag Warning If the company doesn't value your time as a candidate, they are not going to value your time as an employee. by Aurora Meyer on Dispatches from the Castle

As friends and colleagues transition into new careers or into new positions, I have started to see more organizations asking for original work samples during the interview process. This is disturbing on multiple levels.

To be very clear, not only would I, as a hiring manager or an interviewer, never ask for this, but I also don’t believe it is an accurate way to evaluate a candidate beyond a style test or an editing test IF and only if that is applicable to the position.

More than 10 years ago, requesting work prior to a second interview was common practice for graphic designers and often included a request to show how the designer would redesign the newspaper, magazine, annual publication, etc. This was almost always a red flag and revealed more about the organization than the hiring manager likely intended.

Usually, the end result was the organization would choose the design but ultimately hire someone with little to no experience to “recreate it.”

This practice infuriated me then and it still does now particularly since it has expanded to other communication roles. As a hiring manager, I know in a first conversation if the person is a good fit for the team and organization and as long as the person meets the minimum qualifications I can provide them with the tools to do the job.

That said, I have advised anyone in this situation to respond to the request with a customized version of the following:
“Are you looking for original content specifically around this topic? If so, the timeline and scope are in line with my freelance package X [if you don’t have one make it up based on similar offerings] and will be billed at Y rate [again, check industry standards]. As your requested turnaround time adds what I would typically bill as a rush rate, that adds an additional fee of Z. I am willing to waive these fees if I am the final candidate and am offered a position however if I am rejected I will be sending an invoice for my time and the produced work due on receipt. If you are not looking for original content and would prefer to review my current portfolio it is available at [website]. Please let me know how you would like to proceed.”

Most organizations assume you won’t actually bill them, but you absolutely should.

Bottom line, consider this a red flag, if the company doesn’t value your time as a candidate, they are not going to value your time as an employee and the number of hours you’ll be expected to put in will only continue to increase. 

Essential Apps And Tools For Your Business Website

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

There’s more to a business website than pretty pictures and a contact page. Your business website will become far more useful if you add a range of apps and tools to improve its effectiveness for your operations. From generating more leads to boosting your SEO, here are some of the applications that will both improve your website and bolster your profit margin.

Generate more leads using this cost-effective B2B sales tool. It allows you to track those anonymous visitors who visit your website but never reach the end game (making a purchase). Who are they? Why did they visit? How long did they stick around? This lead generation tool will provide you with the answers, giving you an opportunity to both chase them up (if appropriate) and make improvements to your website to help with future sales.

Improve your search engine rankings with special plugins to help you with your SEO. These are some of the best WordPress SEO plugins for example, with customized options to help you optimize your website accordingly. These tools will help you place the right keywords, create backlinks and give you the ability to analyze your site visitors behavior. Don’t have WordPress? Some of the linked plugins will work across other website builders, and a little bit of online research will help you find further options to fit your site.

Enhance your customer support with helpdesk tools, giving you the ability to quickly respond to your customer’s concerns and queries. No longer will they sit twiddling their thumbs waiting for you to answer the phone, and no longer will you face the prospect losing them to someone else because you didn’t respond fast enough. Examples of customer support software include Freshdesk and HappyFox, with robust ticketing systems to help you improve the efficiency of your support.

Make the shopping process easier for your customers using designated e-commerce tools. By making their experience simpler, with smarter ways to add items to the shopping cart and faster payment processes, your business will profit as a result. We recommend Shopify, but other tools are available. Not only are these apps fast and efficient, but they are secure as well, something that will bring added peace of mind to any worried customers.

Save time traveling to business meetings by using a virtual conferencing app, be it Skype, Zoom, or ReadyTalk. You can sit in the comfort of your office and speak with anybody through your computer screen, be they in the same building as you or halfway across the world. You can share your screen with others, collaborate on projects, and transfer essential files, all with the click of a button. What’s more, some of these apps will work from your mobile devices too, so you can easily make those conference calls when you’re at home, on the train, or indeed anywhere (provided you have a good wifi signal).

There is a tool and an app for almost everything these days, and we have only touched the surface. Consider what it is you need to improve your website, and continue your research, using the latest tools and apps to enhance your business, and improve your customer’s experience.

Jetpack or How to Protect Your WordPress Site

WordPress has changed and grown in the last seven years. One of the upgrades is the addition of Jetpack.

When we upgraded from a WordPress hosted site to a self-hosted WordPress site, we knew we needed to make it more robust and able to handle the growth we experienced thanks in part to our posts on Yummly and other recipe sharing sites.

Jetpack offered more flexibility and a piece of mind with automatic site backups. We’ve been lucky and rarely needed this feature, but it is nice to know we don’t have to panic if someone clicks a wrong button and loses a banner or file.

Jetpack combines the most popular features of WordPress.com into a super-powered plugin for your self-hosted WordPress site:

  • Automated site backups, easy restores, and site migrations
  • Security scanning and automated fixes
  • Search engine optimization tools
  • Earn revenue with a high-quality ad program
  • High speed and ad-free content deliver network
  • Support from the a global team of WordPress experts.

Check out plans and pricing and sign up for Jetpack today!

We are happy to answer questions or share more about how and why we use WordPress. Just drop us a note or comment below!

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking on our links. Read our disclosure policy here.)


In college, I started freelancing to supplement my waitressing and college newspaper income. Very quickly, I learned that in order to be a successful freelancer you have to find good-paying markets and be willing to spend time sending out targeted pitches. That took a lot of time away from the writing part of the job and did not have a a great success rate.

At the time, I wished for an easier way to cull through Craigslist and the various freelance market websites.

While I don’t do a lot of freelance writing anymore, I do keep up on market changes from both a freelancer and a freelance contractor. Which is why I was thrilled to have that opportunity to test out a new marketplace for freelancers: Contena.

Contena is a “powerful tool built for writers and content creators who want to find the best-paying markets” for single submissions and ongoing freelance work. Finally, my wish came true and someone else has done the culling for me!

The benefit of Contena is in the search and compare feature. Unlike other freelance job boards, Contena lets you see who and how much right away. Meaning as a freelancer you can decide right away if the contractor is a good match for you instead of waiting until you (maybe) hear back only to learn that the magazine is more of an adult variety than a home maintenance variety.

Some of the posts keep you in Contena and the application process is super simple.

Even the postings that take you outside of Contena  are easy to apply for.

Most applications take less than five minutes to complete. You can also customize a daily email to only send you the opportunities you are most interested in.

If you’re a freelancer or want to become one, consider signing up for Contena today. While there is a small membership fee (Contena starts at around $40 a month with an annual plan), don’t let that deter you. Most of the paying positions pay at least that amount and you might be able to offset the cost of membership by working with your accountant. 

Have you had luck with Contena?

This post contains affiliate links, please see our affiliate policy here.

Marketing for Your Business

Marketing via Pexels
Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question,what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers. 

I’ve written before on how important it is to be aware of various kinds of marketing techniques. Marketing doesn’t have to be hard and you likely already possess most of the necessary skills (For example: making friends is a form of marketing yourself and sharing information is another form of marketing). As you read the rest of this, keep in mind marketing is simply a fancy way to say: conveying a message easily and effectively

There are several things you are probably already doing that are core elements of marketing. If you aren’t already one or two these four things, consider exploring them. If you’re already doing all four, kudos!

Regularly Update Your Website
The consumers of today want new content like never before. But all too often, websites remain stale and lack interesting new features. If nothing else, make sure you update the copyright date. Nothing says outdated like a 2014 copyright in 2016. 

You should be thinking of your website as a free advertising platform. Review the contents regularly and ask yourself if each element is still relevant to your business. The website should be easy to navigate and contain relevant and current content. You can also do a quick search on how to increase your search engine ranking or consider hiring a company to help you move higher up the result pages. Bonus: If you haven’t already searched your business on the various search engines, make it a habit. Use keywords, use the business name, use location. This will also give you a sneak peek into your competition. 

Hire A Marketing Company
Many small businesses believe that they have to do all their marketing in-house. But even a one-person solopreneurship can benefit from at least consulting with a marketing expert. You might find the advice practical and the time not as cost prohibitive as you originally thought. (Did you know this consultation is something J & A Creative Group offers in person and online? Check it out!)

You could also consider taking the consultation a step further and actually hire a marketing company to take care of conveying your message easily and effectively. It’s not as tricky to do as it might sound. The ultimate goal is to make sure the match is a good one. A good marketing business will make sure there is a personality match, match of expectations and a match of time and resources. Of course, J & A Creative Group would love to be a good match for everyone, but the truth is we aren’t pizza or aa $100 bill and we won’t be a good fit for every company. If you’re looking ways to find a partner, check out nklik

Nklik has entire pages dedicated to describing how to find the best firms in the business. A crucial note is to make sure the organization you are working with is not just working to drive more traffic to your website. You want to make sure the ultimate goal is to help visitors find what they’re looking for so that they’re more likely to work with you.

Use A Press Release Service
Small businesses tend to be exciting places. They’re dynamic and always looking for new opportunities. Consider all the new things a business owner does: creates a business, hires people, does something new and innovative. All of these elements are good reasons to write a press release. Most towns have a newspaper which includes items such as a Business Beat. While the reporter might not write an entire article about you or your business, getting even a few sentences can help you reach more customers and lends an air of legitimacy to your business.

Writing a press release can be scary. Of course, J & A Creative Group would love to help you with this task, but you might be looking for something bigger than just the release itself and that’s where a press release service could come in. Press release services send out news stories about your business to a bunch of relevant news outlets. These outlets then publish the story, getting the information about your company in front of your target audience. Press releases are great whenever a new business is launching, or whether you’re launching a new product.

Blogging via Pexels


Start Blogging
As mentioned earlier, people want genuine quality content from your business. Spamming the same old marketing material on your website isn’t the best use of your time and resources. A way to keep your content fresh is to consider adding a blog. Blogging is an excellent way to build up a following and generate interest in your business. Keep it regularly updated with great content and you’ll keep your existing and new subscribers interested. If you’re looking for blog ideas, J & A Creative Group can help you brainstorm an expansive list, but our top recommendations are:

  • About your product or service
  • Why you got started in your business
  • How your customers or clients can get the most out of your product or service
  • A day in the life (behind the scenes at your business)
  • Anything new (new product line, new service, etc.)

Good luck!