Why Paid Projects Can Pay Off When Hiring an Employee

(DGIwire) –  Imagine interviewing for a job and being asked to put together a large project as part of the process—a project that requires considerable time and effort to complete. As a candidate, you have only two options: decline to move forward in the process, or comply. Some job seekers, particularly in creative fields, have experienced this practice too many times than they care to count. They have received incredibly positive feedback more than once but still have ended up with no job offer. The result? They feel depleted and have even wondered if the companies had any real intention to make a hire or perhaps were just looking for a way to bring in fresh ideas…for free. Rebecca Cenni-Leventhal, CEO and founder of Atrium, a staffing and contingent workforce solutions firm, suggests in a recent article in Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech that offering candidates the opportunity to perform a paid project is better for both the candidates and the employer for several reasons.

“Actively auditioning a candidate’s skills with a ‘project for pay’ can have great results that inspire confidence in the hiring process by all involved,” Cenni-Leventhal notes. “It’s almost like auditioning for a part in a play where the job candidate can demonstrate their talents and abilities, and get paid for her time.”

Paying candidates for small projects involves an extra administrative task for the employer, but if it makes the candidate feel validated, writes Cenni-Leventhal, it could make a big difference. Companies will either need to have the candidate fill out a W-2 or have them paid though a third party. Atrium, a total talent management firm focused on providing contingent workforce solutions for mid-size and Fortune 500 companies in nearly every industry, is equipped to handle this task on a company’s behalf.

According to Cenni-Leventhal, the growing recognition among employers of the value of paid projects comes from a fundamental realization: Workers in various fields are much more than the sum of their resume-based accomplishments and the positive opinions of their colleagues. Without firsthand experience of their work skills, it can be difficult or impossible for a prospective employer to gain a genuine sense of what a candidate is capable of—or not capable of—doing.

Yet asking a candidate to submit a sample project can be time-consuming; it is usually performed during the candidate’s personal time, which can be limited if they are currently employed. This practice may tarnish a company’s reputation, with candidates fostering negative bias toward a company if asked to perform a task they deem unreasonably time-consuming.

In light of this, it is easier to understand why it can make sense to pay candidates for test projects. It demonstrates that their time and effort are truly valued by the company—even before they have been officially brought on board and regardless if they’re actually hired. It also helps the company avoid the waste of time, energy and expense that can come from making the wrong hiring decision.

“There are several benefits to instituting paid projects as part of the interview process, and they’re likely to grow in popularity,” Cenni-Leventhal adds. “Paid projects can be another tool that hiring managers can use to attract the best and the brightest in a range of fields.”