Job Search – Career Question – Test or Audition Task Valid?

Dear Career Coach,

I am interviewing for a corporate marketing job, and have been offered a job (I think), but was asked to do “consulting” marketing feasibility study on a property as an “audition.”

The interviewing company has also asked me to give a four-week notice at my current job.

I am not even sure what to charge…what do I do?


I’d take this as a test for the credibility of job offer and let the company know there need to be some understandings in place before you do the consulting study as a test / audition:

They want to see if you are savvy enough to know what a consulting job entails.  This is a test to see if you are mature and experienced enough to know there are business standards, agreements to be put into place, and understandings clearly spelled out.

You want to provide them with the best job possible, but at the same time you don’t want to waste hours of your personal time on this ‘audition’ without any compensation for your time, so you would prefer to put some caveat’s in place before you start working.

If it is for a real task the company needs doing (and would have their staff or another external consultant complete otherwise), if you do NOT get the job you will be compensated for the work completed as if you were a W-2 contractor employee, paid via a 1099.  Agree upon a fee per hour for the study and the number of hours – minimum and maximum – for which you’ll perform the work. Otherwise – as appealing as the job is, you are concerned the company is using this as an non-ethical way of getting work completed for them without having to pay for it, and you would have reservations and concerns about working for any company where this is standard behavior for their workforce recruiting methodologies.  You need to get paid for your personal time regardless of whether the completed work is exactly what they were looking for or not (if a restaurant cooks a meal and serves it – you still have to pay for it – whether you were wild about it or the meal was ‘so-so’).

The acceptable standard for providing job resignation notices is two weeks. Given that your current employer might potentially terminate you for exploring new job opportunities (if they get wind), you respectfully wish to offer your current company a two-week notice, upon receipt, signature, and return of your acknowledgement for a written job offer from the testing company.  Ask them if you were let go from your current company, would there be the opportunity to immediately start work versus waiting out the two weeks.   Otherwise, you cannot comfortably give notice to your current employer until the written job offer is in your hand. The written job offer gives you two safety nets: 1) a job you can start on a set date, or 2) written conformation of the offer if they withdraw it, so you can take them to court for damages incurred if you have given up your current job and can’t find another job for weeks (or months) and have a loss of income or are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

If the ‘testing’ company can understand your dilemma, and agree to those caveats, then I wouldn’t have any issues with the assignment. BUT, get everything in writing. Get them to sign a contract for the ‘audition’ so you can take them to court for the wages if they don’t like the project and decide not to pay for your time.  They may back out of the whole deal – but that’s a chance you have to take if you really want the job and it is an ethical offer.

What to charge for your test ‘consulting’ fees per hour?  That’s not an easy to answer question.  It all depends upon the industry, the type of task, the type of work you have to complete to get the task completed, and how much personal time you must invest to complete the project.  Specialized consultants charge between $100 to $250 an hour, while generalized consultants may only charge $50 to $150 an hour.  You can accept minimum wages if you wish – but do get paid for the work, regardless.

Good luck!

Dawn Boyer, Small Business HR, Career Advisor, and LinkedIn Social Media Coach

D. Boyer Consulting, 5428 Whitehurst Arch, Va. Beach, VA  23464 /

Follow me on Twitter: @Dawn_Boyer / Blog:

Build your consultancy; earn referral fees:

Dawn Boyer is a doctoral student at Old Dominion University in the Darden College of Education, working on her PhD in Occupational Studies and Technology), as well as working as a (Doctoral) Graduate Teaching Assistant teaching computer science and technology to undergraduate students. Ms. Boyer has over 20 years of senior management experience in human resources, of which nine years is in the defense-contracting arena. She also provides HR consulting services via D. Boyer Consulting to small businesses, including dynamically growing 8(a) set-aside defense companies, in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area.


Are attending job fairs still useful in this electronic age of resume posting? (Part 3)

Are attending job fairs still useful in this electronic age of resume posting? (Part 3)

Part 1 imparted knowledge about why employers attend job fairs; Part 2 related what to do productively at a job fair, and this article will tell you what to do after you leave.

I noted several actions one should perform at a job fair in Part 2 of this series, including some advice after the job fair.  These follow-up actions will give you tools and advantages above all the other job seekers who won’t know these secret tips and tricks.  These tips are good regardless of whether you attend a job fair locally or drive to another state to attend a huge or broadly advertised event.  The tips I noted are listed below with an explanation of the why you should do the next step(s).

Ask for names within the company; and if you know anyone in the company – ask about them, their health, how you can get in touch with them.

  • Start searching the Internet and social network sites like LinkedIn before the job fair to see if you can find a name of a person working in the company and their department – use that name to ask if “John Doe” has any jobs in their department requiring your capabilities that hasn’t been posted.
  • If you get a name from the job fair rep, perform a Boolean search on the Internet (and LinkedIn) for that direct contact in human resources, recruiting, or other departments to contact directly to forward a resume.
  • If the POC other than HR gets a resume, and pushes it to a recruiter, there is a higher likelihood the person will forward it to HR, which may be perceived as a referral – especially if the company provides referral bonuses.

Get a business card from everyone in the room

  • Your job at a job fair is to find point of contacts (POC’s) – so pick up a card at every table.
  • Once you get those business cards, mail your resume and a cover letter to each employer POC via snail mail, thanking them for the opportunity to discuss their company and potential job openings.
  • They won’t remember you, but that’s okay – they have your hard copy resume and cover letter in hand now, and they may be nice enough to look at it for further consideration.
  • Since they have an extra printed copy now, and you noted in the cover letter you have already posted to the company’s online job site, they may be inclined to forward the package via inter-office mail to a hiring manager who may have an interest in your capabilities

Research every company by picking up company information you will need later

  • Option 1: This is one of the richest sources of finding POC information within a company – there may be a name for a CEO, VP, or program manager or addresses for work sites, where you can send notes and resumes directly.
  • Option 2: Send polite thank you notes the professionalism of the job fair rep and you wanted the executive to be aware. The executives may show the job fair rep the note. Of course the rep will want to look your profile up in the recruiting system to see who said that nice thing about them – boom, you and your credentials are now under their noses and they are reading your resume.

Talk to other attendees – if someone notes they are leaving XYZ company – there’s going to be a job opening soon

  • Some job seekers are looking to move upward to higher career levels.  If you are waiting in a job fair line, start up a friendly conversation with the next person – Are they leaving a company? Is their contract ending? Where did they work before?  Who did they work for (“…I think I remember someone who used to work for XYZ – what is your bosses’ name…”)? You might hit a gold-mine – if a  program assistant is now looking for a program manager job because they need to move on and make more money – and now you know the name of the company and what supervisor to send your resume to. That employer will need to fill a job quickly.

For more related articles by this author:

Why attend a Job Fair? (Part 1) –

Why attend a Job Fair? (Part 2) –

Why attend a Job Fair? (Part 3) –

How many types of resumes should one have? –

Dawn Boyer, Small Business Human Resources Consultant, Career Analyst, and LinkedIn Social Media Coach

D. Boyer Consulting, Va. Beach, VA  23464


Follow me on Twitter: @Dawn_Boyer