Last few weeks, I have had the pleasure of discussing testing in general, test careers and finding your start with Okechukwu Egbete. He lives in Finland (Oulu), completed a financial studies to a degree here, and has been working towards finding a great position to grow into testing. In addition to great inspiring conversations, we've been pair testing together and geeking about peculiarities of software quality and this industry.
One of the conversations we had this week was about him being a little busy with various possible positions, each asking for a homework sample. Imagine this from the job seeker perspective: every single company has 8-16 hours expectation of exercise to show you are worthwhile candidate. And not only that. Every company has a different exercise. And as I was reminded of how this work, some companies have the exercise before they talk with you, without even the basic level of verifying that they aren't wasting the candidates time.
It is easy for me to say that I find that companies are a at least on verge of misusing their position with regards to selecting the candidates. Having spent at worst 2 full days being assessed by psychologists and potential colleagues through delivering training, doing homework and filling complex loops of papers for a single position I rejected for the final interviewers attitude after they offered the position, I can appreciate the load companies feel they have the right to expect without compensation.
When finding that first opening, you won't walk away at the end. But the work needed can be even more significant.
So I propose turning the activity into a +1 for you. When a company sends you the exercise you do, create a private project on github for that activity as well as all other companies' activities - turn the work you do as it is your work, into your portfolio. And include the growing portfolio of samples into your application. Mark clearly what of the things you have you think is your best work. Show level of effort you've put into different samples. Don't publish the test problems companies have, but use your solutions to those problems as part of your continued job search.
It would impress me if people did that - as long as you show you are mindful of not making anyone's future recruiting efforts harder.