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Posted: September 08, 2011

Seven questionable career services…

...and a couple of worthwhile ones

John Heckers

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, 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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Readers Respond

John, Thanks. I think an excellent business model has always been to take advantage of desperation--whether it's hair loss, weight loss, romance, get rich quick flipping houses or job boards. I have hired top executives and have been a candidate for many top jobs, the higher the job, the more likely the usual suspect search consultants are in the mix. Unfortunately, bald is beautiful, weight loss is hard work, and for every guy that gets rich quick there are exponentially more who just lose their investment. Compared to all this, romance is easy. I appreciate the 411, c'mon Lucy, it's America, dude can change his mind when the facts dictate it. It is the bearer of false witness that sticks behind an original position after it's been proven incorrect. By Christopher Cullen on 2014 04 03
Well, Lucy, as I talk to people and have experiences with different organizations I call 'em as I see 'em. What may have been true in one economy is not necessarily true in another. And the job boards are having to get more, shall we say, "creative" in getting jobs to post. I have heard several complaints about both The Ladders and Execunet recently, as well as most other "executive" job boards. I don't feel any shame, either, for letting people know about events that can help them with their job search, nor for changing my mind when new facts are presented. Only someone with a closed mind cannot change their opinion. As long as I write for CoBizMag, I will do my best to inform readers of the information I get from my clients and extensive network. Sorry if you don't like it. By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2011 09 12
Wow, I am shocked to see this John! As a Colorado resident, I recall you yourself shamelessly pushing your services through the ExecuNet membership (and I have notes in my inbox to prove it). If I recall correctly, you recently said ExecuNet is the exception among "job boards." I, for one have had a wonderful experience with them. They've been an invaluable resource and I surely would not have landed my job if it wasn't for what I learned through them - shame on you!! By Lucy Beranto on 2011 09 12
Thanks, Michele. I offer, for executives, a free resume guide that anyone is welcome to request at jheckers@heckersdev.com. (The resume it helps people write is not totally appropriate for non-executive folks, but they're also welcome to get it!) MSWord also has lots of templates available...and most resumes are just FINE as they are. At the upper levels it is all about networking, not resumes. I also agree with you about a resume not offering artistry. I've seen some pretty outrageous resumes in my 30 years of working with people's careers, including one that was written like a sci-fi story! By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2011 09 09
John -- As a technical and executive recruiter, I have seen many people who have wasted time and money on all 7 things in your list, particularly "professionally" prepared resumes. I agree with you suggestions of LinkedIn (NOT Facebook!) and solidly qualified, well established career coaches. I would also suggest internet sources for how to write a nice, clear resume. People need to remember that unless they are applying for a job as a professional resume writer or professional job seeker, their resumes should convey only easily readable information, not artistry. By Michele Bremer on 2011 09 08

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