As we all know, there are top 25, 50 or 100 lists for almost everything. As we all also know, it seems that whenever something awful happens, be it large or small, man-made or natural, there are always some folks lying in wait to take advantage of people when they are down and at their most vulnerable.
Published on: Monday, November 08, 2010
The Scam Artist All-Star List
We read about it every day: con artists scamming seniors, sub-prime lenders, quacks selling phony cancer cures, or those who think of ways to take advantage of people whose lives have been shattered.. The list is dreadful, long and always makes you wonder how or why one person would do something like that to someone else. Even more depressing is the fact that lots of these people are actually parents!
At any rate, what got me going on this subject was a question an ExecuNet member asked on a weekly teleconference that I host. Members can ask anything they want to on any subject — be it about ExecuNet, executive job search, executive search, headhunters, or whatever.
In this case, the question was: "Are professional career marketing services effective and worth the cost to assist in landing an executive-level position?"
Every time I am asked about this topic I have to take a deep breath before responding and compose myself so that I don't sound quite as angry as I feel.
Technically, we are out of the recession, but when you are still trying to find a job, it sure doesn't feel like it! Given the current economic environment, many suspect companies have re-surfaced, as hundreds of thousands of people try to fight their way back from the recession.
In any event, in trying to pass along a few tips to the caller in terms of "red flags" when it comes to services that claim they can work magic for you, it occurred to me to post some highlights here for others who aren't ExecuNet members but are equally vulnerable.
Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind if before signing a check:
Beware firms that "guarantee" placement, promise an astoundingly high success rate, or a job in a certain period of time. Of course, they won't really put it in these specific terms, but it will be implied.
Be careful if asked for big bucks up front. Outplacement services and executive recruiters are normally paid by companies not individuals, so these scam firms will often have names that suggest they are in the same arena and might explain their services as "retail outplacement" or "reverse recruiters" to try to legitimize themselves in the prospects' eyes when, in fact, they have no intention of providing the sort of help that the legitimate career services firms and practitioners do. The fact that the career services industry is unregulated makes it very easy for the unethical firms to pass themselves off as legitimate.
Go to the company's website. Is there easy-to-find contact information with names, addresses and phone numbers? Are there pictures and bios for the management team? Research them online too.
Conduct thorough due diligence. These firms are masterful at initially creating positive search engine results, but once a steady stream of complaints build online and/or with the Better Business Bureau or sites like RipoffReport, they go out of business and change names. They are all-stars at walking the legal line.
Worse, they know that most of their "marks" are in transition and therefore don't have the money to take real legal action and/or are too embarrassed at falling for the scam and just want to move on. Point being, they know their risk is very slight at best.
Watch out for the bait and switch. They have many ways to get leads such as: posting bogus positions on job boards, making a pitch to get you into their offices: "This job has been filled, but your background makes you perfect for..." They also scan résumés on public job boards and reach out to those whose backgrounds look like they were in jobs that paid well enough to to write a five figure check.
They are exceptionally strong sales closers. Every contact is to draw you closer to writing a check or handing over your credit card. They will often invite you to bring your spouse or significant other to the office with you so as not to change your mind.
Don't be tempted by an "easy" solution. Job search is not an easy road, and there is certainly a tendency for most of us who have paid for a service to sit back and wait for the service to be delivered.
Bottom line: As the old saying goes, "If it sounds too good to be true, it's too good to be true."
Dave Opton founded ExecuNet in 1988 to provide a trusted environment where senior-level executives could build career opportunities by facilitating connections to other executives, experts and key market insights. Dave has drawn upon his 35 years of experience in human resources to develop and grow what has become the leading business and career membership network for executives and senior managers. A widely recognized executive career management expert, Dave is regularly quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Business Week, Fortune, Fast Company, and other leading business publications. Mr. Opton received his BA from Indiana University.
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