Beware of the Sharks
I recently sold my
deceased mother's house. The sale is in the public record in New
York State. Immediately, dozens of financial planners and realtors
came out of the woodwork wanting my money. If you've ever gotten
a speeding ticket or been involved in an accident, you'll find
your mailbox filled with ads from lawyers. This is no accident.
Again, it's a matter of public record.
When sharks smell blood,
they follow the trail to the wounded source.
Unless you are a public
official and have been impeached or elected out of office, your
unemployment isn't a matter of public record. In one way, this
privacy is a bad thing. If honest people know you are looking
for work, they are willing to help you. In another way, this is
a good thing. If dishonest people know you are looking for work,
they will try to feed on you.
When people lose jobs,
they are vulnerable. They have lost their means of making a living
and are highly motivated to re-establish it. The sharks are out
there, and they are looking for you. Once you start posting your
resumes on boards, you are telling the world that you are vulnerable.
It's like trailing blood in shark-infested waters.
Nobody has this secret
database of jobs that only they know about. Companies may have
exclusive contracts with recruitment firms, but it is the firms
who pay the fees, not the candidates. Nobody who doesn't know
you and doesn't know the hiring manager is going to get your resume
into the right hands.
Yet there are companies
that will make these claims. If you just pay them, they will find
the job for you. The truth is: there is only one person who has
the key to your successful re-employment -- you!
One of the biggest
reefs off which the sharks lie is in career coaching and resume
writing and distribution.
There are legitimate
outplacement firms, and they do provide valuable services. Mostly,
these firms are hired by the company that is laying you off, and
there is no cost involved to you. These companies do not make
claims that they have a job for you. They claim to teach you how
to look for a job. While a company-sponsored program is nice because
it consolidates your job searching education all in one spot,
most of these same services are available for free if you know
where to look. Sometimes it may cost you as much as a library
Resumes engender more
discussion and controversy than any other element in the job search.
Some people feel that they just don't know how to write a resume.
I contend that the
perfect resume is like the Loch Ness Monster; there have been
many sightings, but no confirmed scientific evidence that it actually
Most jobs need a resume
that is "good enough" to get you an interview. As the
job for which you apply gets more exclusive as far as pay goes,
the more difficult "good enough" becomes. For most jobs,
a good resume is all you have to accomplish.
If you feel that you
are inexperienced at writing a resume, buy a book, or visit the
library. There are hundreds of books on how to write a resume,
and not just any resume. There are books on how to write a resume
for specific fields from agriculture to zoo keeping.
If that's not good
enough, write your resume and submit it on line to Monster.com
or some other free service for review. Job
Link will not only review your resume, they have samples and
instructions on how to write one. They won't write the resume
for you, but they will give you good guidance.
If nothing else, throw
your life history on a piece of paper, and ask your friends and
colleagues for help. Many of the organizations mentioned on the
resources list have members who will
be willing to help.
As a last resort, you
can pay someone to write a resume for you. This is a poor choice.
Nobody knows you as well as you do, so they are not going to be
able to tell a good story on your behalf. Also, if your writing
skills can't get you a good enough resume for someone else to
review, chances are you don't have the writing skills required
to get a job that needs a professionally-prepared resume.
The only word of advice
I can offer here is that if you are going to pay a fee, be wary
about your expectations. Chances are you won't get much more for
$500 than you would for $25.
Then there are the
resume services that say that they can get your resume into the
hands of thousands of decision makers. There's a name for this
technique: SPAM. We all know how warmly we all embrace spam when
it arrives in our mailboxes. Your resume is relegated to a piece
of trash littering up someone's mailbox. Surely you are worth
more than that, and surely you shouldn't want to pay for this
Another notable scam
is home business. "Make $1,000 a week stuffing envelopes."
They can hire people at the minimum wage to do this 24 hours a
day, 7 days a week and still not pay $1000. There is more to this
than posted in the job offering. Perhaps they will pay you a good
amount of money to stuff the envelopes. All you have to do is
hand address and stuff 600 envelopes a day and you supply the
envelopes and the postage and burn your gas to drive to the post
office and wait in line. Don't even bother pursuing it.
Other companies offer
to set you up with a home business. They won't tell you what this
business is until AFTER you pay them their fee. You may have to
pay to attend their "training program." It is also likely
that they will try to sell you a "business kit." This
may be nothing more than group publications available for free
from the Government Printing Office. Or they will sell you a franchise
to a business in an already saturated field. Or the job itself
will be a pyramid scheme of selling more franchises to all your
There is legitimate
work you can do at home. The way to tell the difference between
the scam and the real thing is that people offering legitimate
home work will tell you what it is up front, and won't ask for
any money from you. You may be required to own your own computer,
have internet access, a valid state driver's license, etc., but
they won't be asking you to "invest" cash in the business.
All this is not to
say that there are not legitimate fees associated with a job search.
Legitimate fees are ones you initiate. Nobody solicits you and
asks you to pay. Things like memberships in professional associations,
subscriptions to business publications, fees for Chambers of Commerce
networking meetings, tuition for training you decide to get, etc.
are all legitimate costs of job searching, and may be worth the
money you spend on them.
I've used the analogy
of a shark to describe these people. Sharks, at least, are predators;
they earn their keep and attack their own prey. People who feed
on the unemployed are more like scavengers that make a living
off the wounded and vulnerable. They are the jackals, hyenas,
and vultures of the employment jungle.
I am making a collection
of real-life scams. If you've seen
one, please contact me using the email link above.