03/17/2012 10:05 am ET

How To Get A Job: Work For Free

FORTUNE -- For decades, George McAfee, a sales and business development expert in the tech industry, simply dialed a buddy when he was ready for a new job. So the 66-year-old executive got a big shock a couple of months ago when he sought his next gig. McAfee found himself making presentations, doing research, and giving talks to executives about everything from Asian distribution channels to structuring salaries -- all as part of the interview processes for four different jobs. Each project took about three days of work.

For McAfee, the free labor paid off. He landed a job as VP of business development at a Sacramento marketing firm in January. But he admits that he sometimes felt like employers were "using him for free." "You just have to accept that and not be offended," he says.