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Seven questionable career services…



If you are job hunting, you've doubtless been contacted by a variety of services, including job boards, career coaches, networking groups and headhunters. In this economy, people will say anything to get you to spend money. Some of the services out there are valid and helpful. But make sure that you're spending your money on something effective, not useless. Here are a few I don't like.

1). "Executive Job Boards" The two most prevalent are "The Ladders" and "Execunet." Neither are worth your money. I have heard from many reliable sources that the jobs advertised are often not available, or are not as advertised. If you apply through these job boards, you'll be one of thousands of applications. If you're an employer, this isn't a good way to find an executive. You'll get way too many "papered" applications you have to wade through to find the one or two qualified candidates. If you're a candidate, you'll also get constantly emailed to "upgrade" or buy their "career services," which, according to some who have used them, are of very questionable usefulness.

2). Outplacement Services that change names. There are several outplacement services that have changed their names frequently to something very different from what they were. This is sometimes because they've been investigated or have a bad reputation, or because they failed and went bankrupt. Check the company pedigree. Make sure you know who you're working with before you sign on the dotted line.

3). Out-of-town Executive Outplacement services. If you're going to Cleveland and need help, get a coach in Cleveland, not Denver. Transition coaching requires a great deal of networking help, and should be done by a local - not a chain and not someone 2,000 miles away.

4). Anyone who promises to get you a job. You are the only one who can get you a job. Services can help, and some are very valid. But, in the end, the job is yours and so is most of the work.

5). Résumé writing services. Résumés aren't being used much anymore. Still, sooner or later you'll need one and, if you're not good at writing, it might pay to have someone help. Just ask for samples and references, or you could wind up paying for an amateur job.

6). Cheap coaches or services. Good career services aren't cheap. Expect to pay about a month's salary for a quality, experienced, successful coach. If you're paying substantially less than that, you probably aren't going to get much helpful in return. This is one area where you don't want to skimp, as anyone in Colorado (and many other states) can hang out a shingle, experienced or not. I also suggest you stay away from career service chains, as you may well get someone relatively inexperienced on your case, and not the person you speak with first. Go experienced, local and stand-alone.

7). Anything you can't successfully Google. A service that doesn't have lots of Google results is probably a scam or brand new. Either way, be very careful about spending scarce money on it. Expect a couple of negative reviews on anyone good, but also expect to see lots of activity and positive information.

Two things I like.

1). LinkedIn. If you're searching for either an employee or a job, utilize LinkedIn. It is on the up and up, very effective and reasonably priced. There are about 100 things I wish LinkedIn would improve on. But, all in all, LinkedIn is safe to use and actually works.

2). Well-known, proven effective career or transition coaches. A good career or transition coach can make all the difference in the world. This is one area where being experienced, being local and being well-networked are all vital. Ask your friends and Google people. Use non-chain, local people who are deeply in the community and have roots in the town where you want to be.

No one can guarantee you a job these days. But some services can be of great help in finding the best opportunities. Just remember that scam artists come out in droves when people are vulnerable. Look for experience, longevity, integrity and effectiveness before writing a check or signing a contract.

Ready for some effective and affordable networking to get job leads? Join us for Structured Networking on Monday, September 12th at the Denver Athletic Club. More info and registration links here.

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John Heckers

John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience  helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.

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