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Beware of Career Marketing Firms

Last week I received a request from a family member of mine in transition. He was asking me to evaluate a proposal he had received from a career marketing firm. He wanted my opinion because I’m a career coach–and because I myself had once been victimized by a similar firm.

His proposal cover letter opened with an aggressive tone heralding the fact that the firm was working with executives who were laid off prestigious organizations, members of academia, representatives of nonprofits, and an assortment of clients ranging from younger people just out of college to mature ones with occupations in every industry and covering every income range. Basically–but without saying so–the firm said it caters to everyone who has money to pay!

The next FIVE pages outlined the firm’s services in a very attractive way for someone in transition. And we all know that when someone is, for instance, desperately hungry, anything that looks like food seems scrumptious and delicious. The firm stipulated its fee–which is, typically, 5 percent of the client’s highest achieved income (calculate how much that would be for you!). Then there were supplementary services–provided at an additional $500 for each one. In order to activate the agreement, it needed to be signed and accompanied by a deposit. If the client were not satisfied with the program within two weeks, said the agreement, the company would rework the material. At this point, though, your money is gone forever.

The firm listed offices in various cities nationwide, so I attempted to research the company a bit further. My research led me to a résumé-writing service. Next, I Googled the company name–and searched on other search engines as well–to try to learn something about the proposal/agreement signer with the title of managing director. I would have expected that a person with such a heavy responsibility (after all, the company claims to have offices in more than half a dozen cities) would have at least a presence in cyberspace as well. But no, even LinkedIn did not reveal the signer.

There have been in the past, and there still exist today of course, many similar career marketing firms. I’ve learned of them either through my circle of acquaintances or because they gained their fame via the media’s reporting that they got sued and soon thereafter closed their doors. Of course, unfortunately, those who’d paid for such services were left high and dry.

As a professional career coach, I say unequivocally that everyone in transition should get help with their job search.  It’s up to the job seeker to solicit that help by asking others for their opinions. Job search networking groups such as those listed at www.landingexpert.com can provide information, as can an online search for individualized coaching services via LinkedIn or Google. Typically, such individualized career coaching services are your best bets because they’re more individualized and because the fees come to 50 to 75 percent less than those charged by the career marketing firms I’ve described here.

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