So this is an empirical post to warn others and to discuss these practices. I think it's essential, especially since many orgzs/companies have people writing and reading this forum. I am not writing out of bitterness; just stating what I've experienced. I hope they will engage in this conversation!
A bit of context: I am finishing a Ph.D. in History. An underdeveloped discipline in the EA field, although McAskill's recent book might have a good effect on changing this. So, I'm trying to sell my research skills in a more reality-anchored, useful field than medieval state-building (happy to chat about it if that sounds interesting!).
I have applied to many, many jobs. The success rate being 5% (a number I heard during a 'celebrate our failure' gig), I am not surprised to struggle. However, the most frustrating thing is being chosen for the first, second, even third, or fourth or fifth (last one I had) interview round, completing tasks for free more than half of the time, and just....raising my hopes for nothing as I'm never chosen in the end.
Let me explain. I had to fulfill very practical and useful tasks for the organizations to which I applied. Without naming institutions, I'll cite one where I had to choose relevant candidates to speak for a panel or another where I had to devise a whole plan to manage a new research unit. I spent hours on these tests. My most rational approach was to do my best because I knew competition to be fierce and that I couldn't just mildly apply for something and have a single chance to be reinvited for an interview without giving my best.
As I'm finishing my thesis, it took much time and energy of thought to complete these tests. It took hope. And yet, I was barely compensated for my time despite giving back, what I believe, was work of very high quality. I've never seen this phenomenon outside of EA, e.g., the requirement of working on intellectually intensive tasks that take more than a few hours. Maybe it exists: but it seems to me that because EA-related companies are more likely to raise feelings of hope and admiration than those that are not EA-oriented (in sum, those that only exist for profit without any other aim), EA-related companies invite more people than what they anticipate to employ to complete some labor for free.
And it doesn't feel right. I know EA isn't (directly) about unions and fair rights for employees, but it feels that organizations use my work without them having the intention to hire me.