Q: What do I do when a prospective employer (in this case a consultant) taps my brain over a five-month interview process for ideas on how I might bring him more business and then, when I bring a bona fide client, reneges on a verbal job offer without any explanation?
A: For years I owned an advertising agency. Every now and then I was offered the chance to do “spec” work for a prospect, which basically meant: Submit your ideas, and if we like yours better than the other guy’s, we’ll hire you. I avoided spec work like the plague. You should, too. In the same vein, no reputable company should ask or expect you to do work without compensation as part of an “interview process.” If this situation comes up again, tell the prospective employer you’ll need a written contract for any work you do, stipulating any conditions about the work and how you’ll be compensated. The serious prospective employer will step up to the plate. The others will show their true stripes, and you’ll avoid a repeat.