Beware of the Job Search Scams

I just received an email pitching me on a new ‘service’ for job seekers. Apparently, for *only* $10 per lead, this person (who I will not mention or link to) will find you contact names and information for hiring managers at your target companies.

So for $100, you can have 10 names and email addresses. Names and email addresses that you could find yourself using sites like Google, LinkedIn and ZoomInfo along with some good old-fashioned sleuthing. And names and email addresses of people who may not even be hiring new staff right now.

This is a complete scam – and I would have just deleted the email if it wasn’t for the fact that I am seeing more and more of these pitches. This particular scammer gleefully described the current unemployment numbers along with the projected numbers for later in the year. I could just picture the guy sitting in his office drooling over all the bad news and hatching one scheme after another to capitalize on other people’s misfortune.

Look, there are lots of ethical, talented career marketing professionals out there. There are good research services who can help you develop a list of solid contacts – and who will do it for a lot less than $10 per lead. (For one such service, check out Barbara Safani at Career Solvers). There are lots of honest and gifted resume writers and career coaches. But in this current economic climate, there are also going to be a lot of people who see an opportunity to prey upon fear so it\’s critical that you do your research if you’re considering hiring anyone to help with your search.

Here are a few tips for avoiding the scammers:

1) If it seems too good to be true, it is. If some company emails you saying they have a great opportunity and they want to discuss it with you, be very wary. Take the call – hey you never know! – but be aware that lots of so-called career marketing firms use this pitch to try selling their services. If this is a real job opportunity, the recruiter will tell you about the position and ask some interview questions on the phone. If it’s a scam, the sales person will tell you that you’re qualified for lots of positions … but first you need some help with your resume and marketing strategy. Hang up at that point!

2.) Google is your friend! If you’re considering any professional service, research the company and the company’s President/owner on Google. Read more than just the first page. You’ll find out lots about their reputation, how they operate and how long they have been in business.

3) Look for a blog. Any professional career marketer worth his or her salt should be blogging regularly. Any company worth its salt should have employees blogging regularly. If they’re not, they don’t understand how to market effectively in today’s world – and if they can’t market themselves, why should you believe they can help you market yourself?

A blog also lets you see how much the ‘expert’ knows. I bet my friend with the $10 job leads doesn’t have a blog because I bet my friend with the $10 job leads hasn’t been involved in career marketing until just now.

4). Ask questions and shop around. No matter how much you like the first company you find, be sure to do some shopping around. Doing so may raise issues you hadn’t initially thought of and at the very least, if you still choose the first company you found, you’ll feel more informed about the choice.

This is a worrying time for all of us and unfortunately there are lots of people looking to take advantage. Be smart about doing your research and you’ll easily be able to tell the difference.

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