Work for free? Why more employers expect it ... and the unemployed agree

One of the trends from the recession that seems to have embedded itself in our culture is the idea that job seekers should work for free. Traditionally, free labor was limited to college students who hoped to gain some experience between semesters in their chosen field and retirees with too much time on their hands so they volunteered.

But today, jobless practitioners are asked to toil for nothing -- and many are doing it with the hope that when a job opens up, they will have a foot in the door.

One of the first professions to cave to the notion that working for free was somehow of benefit to them was my own: Writers and editors, many of them laid-off journalists, who were floundering and grateful to have a purpose restored to their day. Blog sites, large and small, offered writers a chance to publish. And missing the sight of their bylines and eager to have someone "want" them again, they did so for gratis and exposure.