Job seekers should NEVER pay for resume writing or job search coaching


When I’m out and about at various local networking events, it’s not uncommon to encounter a large population of unemployed people. In fact, conversations with unemployed people often provide me with ideas related to career management, job search and employment market issues that I write about and include in presentations.

Recently, while chatting with a person that I had previously met and spoken with a number of times at similar events, an interesting topic came up. They were describing a fee-based LinkedIn class they had heard about being offered by someone they knew. I asked what they thought about the class and what paying participants should expect to get from it. They immediately said, “I would never pay for that type of class.”

Next, they proclaimed, “In fact, I would never pay for any professional job search advice, including resume writing or job search coaching.” Finally, they stated, “When I first went to ____ job search organization, they told us not to pay for anything, because they were going to give us all of the information we needed for free.”

Those comments didn’t really faze me at first, as it certainly wasn’t the first time I’d heard that sentiment. Even though that person knows my professional background, I didn’t take offense or find it personally insulting. Though I thought it was a bit awkward and unfortunate that they were so adamant about it. Rather than try to dispute their remarks, I simply suggested that people should do what they think is best, especially if what they are doing is working and producing results.

However, upon further reflection, I felt sorry for that person and any others who hold similar beliefs. They were basing their job search approach on what someone else, likely completely unaware of their situation, told them to do or not do. The main concern I have with this is that we are dealing with some particularly challenging circumstances. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I don’t think this is a case for a one-size-fits-all set of rules delivered by virtual, uninformed strangers.

When people refuse to admit their shortcomings to consider trying something new, they likely will miss out on any potential for different outcomes. While I would never try to convince someone to pay for anything that they don’t find valuable or worthwhile, I think it is short-sighted to automatically dismiss the possible benefit of doing so.

Having written countless targeted resumes, bios and profiles and provided personalized job search coaching for plenty of individuals over the years, I have a hard time understanding why someone would take such a stand, without at least exploring those alternatives first. The majority of referrals I’ve received have been from colleagues, senior business leaders, HR executives and staffing industry professionals. The feedback I’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive and complimentary. Without going into specific details, most comments are along the lines of “WOW! I never would have been able to do that on my own.” Or, “I can’t thank you enough for all of your help. I am so impressed that you came up with exactly the words, tips, tools and advice I needed.”

Following that initial incident, I had a separate conversation with another individual and mentioned the above. They also found it a bit shocking and blamed it on the rampant malpractice taking place in the job search realm. What they were referring to is the free, yet tainted Kool-aid being dispensed by various newly appointed gurus of all things career-related. It is known issue, but sadly those needing clarity the most, are least likely to pay attention to the warning signs.

Ironically, the person who said job seekers should never pay for resume writing or job search coaching has been unemployed for 2+ years and doesn’t seem to be concerned with the typos and incoherent content on their LinkedIn profile. These are exactly the things that drive a person like me crazy.

The jobless Kool-aid drinkers are all starting to fall into the same general categories: middle-aged, long-term unemployed, active networkers bragging about the quantity of their LinkedIn connections and readily passing out job search advice to anyone and everyone else under the guise of being helpful. Since everyone is doing it, it must be working right? Wrong!

Likewise, I frequently see people who seem oblivious to their interpersonal and communication styles and habits that may be potential turnoffs. There seems to be a sense of entitlement for help based on the fact that many of these folks falsely believe they are helping others due to their insistence on robotically asking everyone they meet: “How can I help you?”

And, don’t get me started on personal hygiene, wardrobe and grooming malfunctions that aren’t doing them any favors. Some of these problems can be quickly and easily fixed and for minimal, if any, expense – like buying tweezers, a lint-brush or an iron. Wrinkly clothes, pet hair, nose hair, ear hair, exposed chest hair and Andy Rooney eyebrows are not in demand in this competitive market. Ask anyone!

Who knows what may have happened had some of them been willing to make a few calls to investigate what type of help is available before so much time had passed and the damage to their professional reputation has been done… Most, if not all, providers of career services assistance offer free initial consultations. There is no reason not to take advantage of those being generous with their time and who actually have the specialized knowledge to help those who need it most.

Perhaps, the fact that there are so many fraudulent and unprofessional sources of information out there is a deterrent to getting legitimate, professional guidance. I personally know of several reputable resources that I would be glad to recommend. Please get in touch if you are interested in learning more about them.

Article by Kelly Blokdijk ~ As a Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks, Kelly thrives on “Creating a Voice for Talent” by partnering with business professionals and job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies, customized communication materials and compelling personal branding campaigns to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts employment market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

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