In the wake of the George Calombaris story where the successful Master Chief judge was heard to have underpaid his staff that were working in each of his 16 restaurant's around Australia. This news had taken back many people. The final outcome arrived where recently a decision had been made where George was fined $7.8m due to his actions.
It's never nice to be taken advantage of in any industry, being that the hospitality or in my case the design industry. Saying that, it brings to light a very unpleasant job application experience.
The DIA therefore defines pitching as: Pitching is any practice that involves the speculative or competitive provision of design services (including concepts) for a commercial client that results in the designer receiving or charging less than their normal professional rates for work that is intended or likely to be commercially realised or in an attempt to win new business.
As a seasoned graphic designer of over 15 years, I was sent a very enthusiastic email notifying me that I have successfully made it to the ‘next stage’ for a graphic design position. For the next round they would like to allow my talent and creativity to speak for them before progressing to any interviews.
Only to be told that I had a small design task to complete with a design brief of some creative work including design materials to assist. This was two pages long... you might as well hire me now to do the job!
On top of that, they only required a ’rough version.’ This task I would estimate would taken me anywhere from 2 to 4 good hours to produce. And if you did complete the request, there is no guarantee that you will receive an interview.
I was thinking to myself, I just sent you my CV, cover letter and digital portfolio for consideration. I do not need to prove my skills or talents any further.
I had alarm bells ringing, this is extremely unethical to ask me and other applicants to provide you with a design concept. This is called ’free pitching’. The DIA (Design Institute of Australia) which I am a member of, does not support such a practice.
The DIA holds the view that any form of competitive pitching – paid or unpaid – is inherently flawed, and therefore by implication, unprofessional.
Young designers trying to carve a niche in a market with well established players face strong temptations to free pitch. The best advice is to think clearly about the extent to which you are undermining your ability to sell your services in future dealings with the customer and the degree to which you are destroying your professional credibility. Spending the same time and resources on an existing client relationship or the broad search for clients prepared to engage you on the strength of your folio is likely to yield more certain returns.
It just re-enforced the ”my time has value" movement that I was following back in 2015. Surprisingly in this day and age, this company had never heard of ’free pitching’ before. They confessed they hadn't read my cover letter or CV as they don't understand what a designer does or what the technical aspects require.
You wonder who is assessing your portfolio when you are applying for these positions. There is no creative director anymore who is in the hiring process, which is vital. You are now dealing with an everyday Joe blow, who has no idea what the role advertised entails ie: aspects such as typography, composition, text and graphic layout, knowledge of pre-press and many other graphic and technical requirements that are needed as a designer, including and above all CREATIVITY. Which this can only be judged with one who understands design and the fundamentals that goes with it.
I hope any designer who reads this, that they are educated in what ’free pitching ’ is, and hopefully they do not waste their valuable time. I know that I haven't wasted mine!
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