Career Management Firms or Employment Scams

How to tell the difference between a true company that helps you help yourself in the hidden job market and how to tell when it’s just another employment scam.

Finding a job is hard enough in these economic times, and often companies promising to get you into that hidden job market look tempting. Do you take a chance or not? Is it just learning market yourself?

Career Management Firms

First of all, there really are good companies out there that will help you. But you must remember the golden rule – only you can find the hidden job market for you. And yes, ethical headhunters can actually help place you in a firm; and yes, headhunters are very good at finding jobs for their candidates – it just depends on your particular niche.

But usually, it’s you that needs to do the legwork. If you don’t have an idea of where you want to work and what you actually want to do (and of course, what you excel at), don’t expect any headhunter or firm to magically understand your needs and conjure up a position.

And that’s where a good career management firm comes in. Basically, these firms teach you how to market yourself – by first helping you discover who you are, what you want, what you’re good at, and how to get where you want to be. Then you learn how to research potential companies; how to approach the right people; and how to get yourself an interview for a job that as yet, does not exist. Of course, having appropriate business documents and portfolios can also be part of the package.

Is this something you can do yourself? Well, yes, and in essence, you are doing it yourself. BUT a career management firm gives you proven plans and takes out the research time you’d have to spend to figure it out on your own. More importantly, these companies give you moral and emotional support – they do request you call them before an interview so you can practice with them, and get extra pointers and confidence before the meeting.

How to Tell if You are being Scammed

The easiest way to tell a scam is if the company is not upfront about fees. Whether you send in your resume to an ad, or they contact you through an online posting of your resume – a company that does not state up front they can help you to help yourself find work, or that they are fee-based – is a scam.

Most legitimate career management firms will also have packages as well as mix and match options. A company that only offers one package is obviously a scam. Each person has individual needs: not everyone needs to resume writing help or “dress for success” help, so why pay for what you don’t need? And any company that requests your significant other to be present for a financial meeting about packages is a clear scam – and tips you off to the extent of their cost.

A legitimate career management firm will stress the importance of the training: it’s a one time fee and will last you forever (learning really does stay with you, and can be applied to other areas). The scammers will look for your fears and play on them – that you need them more than they need you. The scammers will also try to get you to constantly agree with them and may try to avoid a direct question about how they will look for work for you (they don’t).

Bottom Line

Career management firms play an important role in accessing the hidden job market. But remember, it really does come down to you learning how to do it for yourself. Fees should be stated upfront and offer a mix and match option. Any company that keeps its agenda hidden or pretends it will find you the jobs is a scam: these companies mostly help you help yourself. Don’t pay for what you don`t need; you don`t need to be scammed.

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