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Favorite Friday: Chicken List Is Out – Now Put Away The Honey-Do List!

April 4th, 2014

By March of 2007 I had gotten an idea of this so-called chicken list, which still scares me, and had been consumed by the idea of wasting time in a job search.  Here’s a post I wrote in March of 2007 about making sure your honey-do list doesn’t take time away from what you should be doing in a job search:

Where's Your Honey Do List?  I know you have one...Last week I encouraged you to get your Chicken List out and make “that” call – the call that has been scaring you.

That encouragement does not transfer over to your Honey-Do list.

A job search is more than a full-time job. You almost have to create the wheel, and reach deep inside yourself to do stuff you haven’t had to do for a long time (create a resume, create elevator pitches, etc.). Its hard to change your mindset from “sell my company’s product” to “sell myself.” And then on top of all of this, you are the one that has to execute the strategy! Its a HUGE job!

So why do you think that you can knock things off the honey-do list? I know, you are now “working from home.” And you “have time.” And you “need a break” from the job search.

I know you have a hole in the wall. I know your toilet needs some work. I know you should really paint, or weed, or change wallpaper, or shampoo the carpets so you can have a better work environment.

But none of those things are really going to get you closer to getting your next job. Or next client.

So put the Honey-Do list away until the weekend. Pretend that your new job (that is, the job of finding a job) has you tied up from early in the morning until dinner time – and stop fooling yourself that doing honey-do’s right now is a good use of your time.

It isn’t.

Disclaimer: I’m not trying to be sexist, or offensive. This post is not intended just for those in a job search. You know you have some kind of list that distracts you from doing important stuff. If you don’t have a “honey,” I bet you still have your own “to do” list. Same thing.

And finally, this is not a ticket to not do anything that needs to be done. I’m just saying that there are some things that are not as high a priority as working on your job search (or career management, or small business development, or your job – even if you are underemployed!).

Reading that post now makes me wince a little.  That is some harsh advice.  You can tell where my mind was at.  The message is important.  You can see Deb Dib’s insightful comment here.

Leave your own comment below….

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Favorite Friday: Stop hiding and actually start your job search.

March 28th, 2014

Here’s another favorite I wrote in May of 2012.  I’m surprised it didn’t become a Favorite Friday before now: Stop hiding and actually start your job search.

Many years ago I worked as a clerk at the FBI.  I was bored beyond description.  There really wasn’t anything to do, as our department was overstaffed.  Some of my colleagues picked up projects from the analysts, but I was too low on the totem pole to do anything like that.

So I found myself organizing, and then re-organizing, and then re-organizing my file folder drawer.

You have to understand, as a clerk, I really didn’t have anything important in my file folder drawer.  The exercise was about as useful as sorting, and resorting, and resorting the garbage.  It didn’t help anyone or anything… it just burned time.

Do we, as job seekers, do this?  I know I did.  Here’s my ode to this wasteful, rut of a practice:

This post is for anyone in a job search, no matter how long you have been at it.

Looking back at my job search I found I did activities that were safe and comfortable, but of very little value to my job search.

I refer to this as HIDING from the job search.

Some people hide, in the name of being busy in a job search, by doing things that are seemingly good:

  • going to networking clubs/groups/meetings, but just to go, not to actually network.  And if they do “network,” they aren’t following up, they are just collecting business cards,
  • applying to jobs online, as if it were they most important thing to do in a job search,
  • researching companies, industries, trends, or current events (um, that’s called reading the newspaper… reading the newspaper doesn’t necessarily land you a job),
  • going to one-on-one networking meetings (coffee, lunch, breakfast, etc.) without a real purpose or strategy that is directly tied to getting a job,
  • ______________ (what are YOU doing that is not leading towards your job?)

I was HIDING from my job search with these fake, non-productive activities for three reasons:

  1. These activities are comfortable. We  gravitate towards comfortable, don’t we?  Heaven forbid I got outside of my comfort zone, even if it meant I was doing a something that could produce real results.
  2. I didn’t know any better. I *thought* I was a smart guy, and I could figure it out on my own.  I didn’t want to read books, articles, blogs, etc. about how to do a job search.  I was better than that advice written for “most people.”  I wasn’t “most people.”  I was unique (just like you think you are unique).
  3. Doing those activities are socially acceptable, and at the end of the day you can “feel good” about how hard you worked. When someone asked how it was going, you could tell them how many jobs you applied to, or how many network meetings you went to, or some other metric.  Metrics seem meaty, but those metrics were the wrong things to focus on.

I should have been more consistent at picking up the phone and calling people.  I should have realized (or learned) how to identify target companies, network into those companies, and do real informational interviews.

If I would have spent time on other (high value) activities my job search would have been completely different.

Do you want YOUR job search to be different?  Where are you spending your time?  On activities with potential for high return, or HIDING from the hard stuff?

Leave a comment below…

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Favorite Friday: Water Damage Is Expensive – Don’t Neglect Your “House”

March 21st, 2014

I loved this post. It was like the post I hated my lawnmower, which was about a stupid problem I had for a long time, until I figured out the fix was quick and free.

In our job search we might have problems that are really resolved quite easily, quickly, and at no cost.

The water damage post was more about long-term neglect of a little problem that could get out of control and have huge consequences.  I’m including the text here (with some edits and reformatting), but be sure to go to the original post to read the comments.  Then leave your own comment on this post, or the one from 2007 .

I work in my basement. Periodically there has been a weird leak from the ceiling in my office closet – and I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. The pipe in question is the main water pipe that delivers water to my entire house (sounding expensive yet?). After about a year of trying to figure it the problem, it finally hit me. The cold water pipe is in the same run between joists as the dryer exhaust. When we turn the dryer on that area gets hot, and water condenses on the pipe. Lots of water – and it drips quite a bit.

Whew! We don’t have to have a plumber come fix anything! I just need to put some insulation on the pipe and it should be good!

I could have continued to ignore this, but water is so damaging. It can create the perfect environment for mold, it can make things rot, it can mess up a foundation… water problems can be really dangerous and expensive to ignore. They should not be neglected.

Last year when I got laid off I neglected a number of things. Below is a short, incomplete list of things that I regret neglecting. I still stand by my March 8th (2007) post Chicken List Is Out – Now Put Away The Honey-Do List! where I talk about not hiding behind home improvement projects while you ignore things you need to do in your job search. That post was about non-essential projects – this post is about things that, if neglected, will have profound consequences.

  1. Do not neglect your family. My wife and I are a team. I often take that for granted. About a month into unemployment someone asked her “How’s Jason doing?” Her reply was “I don’t know – we don’t talk much anymore.” You see, I was trying to be strong and positive for her and the kids. And she was trying to be strong a supportive for me. And during all of this time of being strong, we were neglecting our relationship. Remedy: I should have had a weekly date night with my wife, and at least one date with each kid. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it can simply be a trip to the park for some quality “how ya doin’?” talk. But it needs to be regular, not rushed, and one-on-one.
  2. Do not neglect your physical health. I remember my “office” in the early days of my job search: it was the reclining chair in my bedroom. I would sit there for about 10 hours each day as I looked for postings to apply to, tweaked my resume, wrote custom cover letters, did company research, etc. 10 hours of sitting is not uncommon but when I had a job I’d go on 3-mile walks during lunch. Now I was basically rolling from bed-to-chair and back again at night. I didn’t even go up and down the basement stairs. I skipped meals (somehow the money could stretch if I didn’t eat, right?). I neglected my health and even now I am paying the price for a non-active lifestyle for so long. Remedy: I should have started each day with a 20 minute walk, and done crunches and push-ups and all those free things you can do without a gym membership. I should have eaten breakfast each day (oatmeal is cheap and very healthy), and watched what I ate during the day.
  3. Do not neglect your mental health. This is such an emotional time. My severance was running out quickly and the prospects didn’t seem good. I did not get the mental and emotional nurturing that I needed. This nurturing would have better prepared me for the interviews that I had. It would have helped me maintain a big-picture perspective. Remedy: I should have picked one book or learning project that I could dig into to “sharpen my saw,” but kept it in check with my job search schedule. I really should have sought out friends that I could learn from, or share ideas with. That is one of the reasons networking is so powerful in a job search. But for 2 months I did not network at all. Not good.
  4. Do not neglect “outside” things. The water leaks. The bills. The other obligations that you must take care of.  I’m not saying you have permission to do all the around-the-house projects you’ve been wanting to do, but if there is something that is critical then address it before it becomes a very expensive and complex problem.Remedy: I should have taken time with my wife to create a list of the urgent things that I/we needed to address. I can’t remember what those might have been last year, but being on the same page would prevent problems and reduce stress in our relationship.

It’s been 15 months since I was laid off. I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about neglecting my wife (see #1). It was a personal experience for me, and I’m ashamed of it. But it happened. Hopefully reading this list will help you make sure your priorities are in order better than mine were.

Finally, this advice/warning applies whether you are in a job search or not. What are you neglecting? How are you going to remedy that?

Leave a comment below…

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Favorite Friday: The Power of Your Network To Your Company/Employer

December 20th, 2013

One of my favorite concepts, which I was recently reminded of, comes from Phil801 who wrote a blog post back in 2006 titled Social Networks and Corporations.  I wrote a post with my thoughts about it here, on July 5, 2006: What’s your value-add? (Robert Merrill write a follow-up post here, from a recruiter’s perspective)

Here’s the idea: if you have a network, can you bring value to a company or employer (or project or client) by bringing your network in?  Imagine these two scenarios:

Scenario 1:  Your company has a problem which is perplexing everyone on the team.  Everyone has been so busy working for the company that they don’t have any contacts they can comfortably tap into, and they keep trying to solve the problem without getting outside help.

Scenario 2: Same problem but your team has been trained to expand their network and nurture relationships with their contacts.  This is a part of the culture at your organization, and no one (read: bosses, management) feels threatened that you are spending time with others in the industry outside of your company.

Here’s my proposition for you: DO NOT WAIT FOR AN EMPLOYER TO MAKE IT OKAY TO HAVE A STRONG, NURTURED NETWORK!!

Maybe your employer doesn’t “get” networking.  Maybe they are threatened by you having industry contacts.  In my case, I think I didn’t network when I had a job because it seemed wrong (like I was cheating on my employer).  I think it would have been fine, but I had a lot of hangups and assumptions.

I wish, oh how I wish, I would have gotten past my misunderstandings and issues and networked.  Real relationships would have helped me in my last company, through my job search, and in my current role as business owner.

Career Management 2.0 is the new reality, and networking and relationships is a HUGE part of it.  Even if your company doesn’t “let you” do it on company time, do it on your own time, and bring value to your company!

#FavoriteFriday: What’s your value-add?

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What I Should Have Done In The First 30 Days (Favorite Friday)

October 4th, 2013

I love this post I did back in August of 2008: Job Search Tips: What I Should Have Done In The First 30 Days.  Here it is:

When I got laid off I thought I’d land pretty quickly.  I was an experienced professional with strong IT, strategy, business and customer relationship skills, and excited about life and business.

I didn’t know that the job search would kick my butt, and my ego would dwindle as the days/weeks went by.

Even though I had not ever been in a job search, I thought I knew what I was doing.  My strategy looked like this:

  1. Get resume ready, and pass it by trusted friends who would be able to critique it.
  2. Post resume on key job boards, including Monster, Careerbuilder and Dice.
  3. Apply to jobs I found online from various sources (job boards, company sites, etc.).
  4. Send resumes to recruiters, who would surely love me, help me, and bend over backwards to put a paycheck back in my hands (couldn’t let the 3.5 kids starve now, could they?).
  5. Ignore the concept of networking, since it would take too much time, and I would have an offer pretty soon.  Um, yeah.  I was that dumb.
  6. Prepare for interviews by reading articles about how to interview.  After all, I was going to have a lot of interviews coming up soon, and I wanted to be as sharp as a whip.
  7. Figure out how to do salary negotiation. This needed to be a step forward, not a step backwards.
  8. Figure out how to accept a job offering, while turning down at least three others.  How could I let the other three down easily?

I was ready to conquer the world.  Or at least get a great job that I’d love, hopefully as much as I loved my last job.  Well, my job search sucked, and I spent wasted 60 hours each week for months – mostly applying to jobs online.  Want to know where that got me?  Further unemployed.

I have some friends who recently got laid off, and thought “what would I suggest to you?  What do you do in the first 30 days in a job search?”  This is such a critical time.  So here’s what I would suggest:

  1. Get your resume ready. Find a way to scape up a few hundred dollars and get a competent, well-respected resume writer to do it for you.  During the resume-writing process you should learn some new phrases to help you in your interviewing, and networking.  If you can’t get the money (I realize there are some who read my blog with tens of thousands of dollars available to them, and others who don’t have one red cent left, and no family or support group), go to a library (or bookstore) and read through resume books.  Or, for $9.95 buy the resume book I recently reviewed by master resume writer Louise Kursmark.  MY RESUME LOOKED GOOD, BUT IT KEPT ME OUT OF JOB INTERVIEWS! I am confident a resume professional would have been able to help me figure that out BEFORE I applied to dozens and dozens and dozens of postings.
  2. Find someone to be accountable to. I learned about the importance of this from a network group I went to, where they emphasized your “coach” is NOT your spouse (who is too close to the emotional situation).  But you need to find someone to be accountable to on a weekly basis.  This person should be strong enough to lay down the smack if you need it (you probably will).  They should not be nut-cases who don’t understand the job search, especially the importance of networking.  If you can afford it, consider one of my career partners who will not only be accountable, but will guide you based on best-practices and CURRENT job search and career management information.
  3. Understand your finances. One of the first things we did, and it was very scary and humbling to do this, was to talk finances with our parents (both sets) and our local church leader.  We got some temporary help, and we were able to really understand our financial status, what we could/should cut, and how long we could go at the rate we were going.  You HAVE TO do this. Is it scary to talk to those who can help you?  Very.  Heck, I got too much schooling, and had great titles, and made good money… talking to someone about supporting MY family was not easy at all.  But it was very helpful, both financially and for my nerves.
  4. Learn about the relationship you have with recruiters. I thought recruiters would be the silver bullet in my job search.  I was WRONG.  They don’t work for me, they work for the hiring company, and get paid if they make a placement.  If they don’t have something that fits me, they MOVE ON fast.  I put too many eggs in that basket without understanding what I was doing.
  5. Understand the value of job boards. Yes, post your resume there, but don’t overdo it, and don’t spend too much time there.  An eye-opener for me was when I learned that about 10ish % of all jobs were placed through job boards (this stat is widely argued), so WHY spend more than 10ish% of my time on job boards???  I was spending 90+% of my time there, neglecting what I should have been doing.  Consider getting job search agents set up, so you don’t even have to go search for the job openings, and doing “competitive intelligence research” to learn what you can about target companies or industry happenings.
  6. Network, in person. You cannot ignore the power of in-person networking, and should not avoid this.  You should get out every day – find networking events to go to, and invite people to breakfast, lunch or “coffee.”  Read Never Eat Alone to understand the power of networking… this was the book that changed my entire attitude, especially when networking with other job seekers.
  7. Network, online.  Of all the tools you can network on online, I’ll suggest getting on LinkedIn first.  Grow your network with people in your space (profession, industry and geography).  Figure out how to network with them (which is too involved for this post).  Then, look for relevant Yahoo or Google Groups to join, again, in your space.
  8. Get prepared for a potentially long search, and a long time without an income. When I lost my job my dad wisely commented “I’ll expect you to be out of work for at least six months.”  I thought NO WAY.  I was too good to be out of work for that long.  Since then I’ve met professionals and executives who have been out of work for up to two years… at least a handful for more than two years.  As you settle in to this phase in your career, you need to adjust your mindset.  Remain optimistic but realistic or else you’ll find yourself with financial and emotional problems that compound the issues.
  9. Kiss your spouse and kids. This is stressful for you, right?  Humiliating?  Scary?  It is equally as stressful for your family.  A few months into our job search someone asked my wife how I was doing.  She said “I don’t know.  We don’t talk much anymore.”  That really hit me hard… I didn’t realize that our communication all-but-stopped.  She was trying to be strong for me, and I was trying to be strong for her, and we just didn’t have much to say during this time.  What a waste of time – take advantage of this time to communicate about important matters.  And realize your kids are going to wonder what the heck is going on, and perhaps have to fend of rumors from neighborhood friends (like “your dad got fired!”).
  10. JibberJobber. If you showed me JibberJobber at the beginning of my job search I would have said phooey!  I wasn’t going to need it for more than a few weeks, right?  WRONG.  The job search went longer than expected.  More importantly, as you use JibberJobber you enter information that will be critical in your next job search… helping you get a jump start on that next transition (not a pleasant thought, but hey, we’re all adults here – it’s time to be serious about your future transitions).  The amount of information to keep track of, and the potential for missing appointments, opportunities and followup, is just too much… you really need to get a real tool to help manage your job search – this is it. If you are serious, consider the optional upgrade.

I’m sure I’m missing stuff, and this is much more “JOB SEARCH” oriented than “CAREER MANAGEMENT” oriented.  What would you add or suggest?

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Your Chicken List: CALL THEM!

September 27th, 2013

A powerful post I wrote in 2007: Get Out Your Chicken List and Make a Call!

This was a new concept to me (not to sales professionals).  Here is the content of the post:

I was at a presentation last week where the presenter (a CEO in transition) talked about his chicken list. I may have heard the term before but didn’t remember when. A chicken list is the list of names that you are scared to call – for whatever reason. Its funny to hear such a high-level executive talk about his own chicken list but it was a good reminder for me. Why? Because someone at his level may have been on my chicken list, and to hear that he has his own chicken list (aka, insecurities) helps me bring things into perspective.

Why do people end up on the chicken list? Perhaps…

  • They are veterans in the industry or community, and everyone knows them and talks about how incredible they are
  • You have tried to contact them a number of times but they have never responded
  • Everyone else is so hot to contact them that you don’t want to be just another person trying to get in their schedule
  • They are the hiring manager, or the hiring manager’s boss
  • They have a ‘gatekeeper’ that seems nice but never lets you get past

I’m sure there are many more reasons. And I’m sure you can think of at least one person on your chicken list! Its easier to find other things to do (like apply to one more job on Monster.com)… but here’s my challenge to you: Call someone from your chicken list today.

If you aren’t going to do this once a day, at least do it once a week. One thing that helped me go through my chicken list was to remember that most everyone on it was one day away from being terminated… that would quickly eliminate them from the list and make them much more human!

I know you have a chicken list. Make a phone call today.

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What to do when your job search simply sucks

July 19th, 2013

Here’s another older post I found because a spammer tried to comment on it: The Job Search Sucks.

It’s true, isn’t it?

No one wakes up and says: “You know, I’m up for a new challenge. I want to do a job search. This should be a good challenge because the economy sucks… we’ll see how this goes!”

Maybe some people do … people who are in a horrible corporate situation.

But when you are a job seeker, and discouraged, and tired of spinning your wheels and feeling like nothing is working, sometimes you need to step back and take a little break.

In the blog post from 2009 I shared some ideas (read the post to get the entire gist of it):

  • step away and regroup
  • focus on relationships
  • fix something at your house (sometimes having a project complete, or accomplishing something, is a nice break from the mundane job search)
  • plant flowers
  • go back to school (I think this needs serious thought, because it means major changes to schedule, finances, etc.)
  • change industries
  • QUIT the job search. Sound silly?  I did it.  And that is what 51 Alternatives to a Real Job is all about.

Check out the post for more, as well as insightful comments from others :)

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First 30 Days of Your Job Search

July 18th, 2013

Fortunately spammers leave comments on really old blog posts that I have all but forgotten… and they turn my attention back to a really good post :)   That’s how I got this post back in front of me: Job Search Tips: What I Should Have Done In The First 30 Days

This is one of my favorite posts, and a really important one.  I talk about what my failed strategy included, and then what I would do now if I were to start over.  In the first 30 days I would (read the post to see more explanation):

  1. Prepare my resume and other marketing documents, 
  2. Find a coach or someone to hold me accountable,
  3. Figure out my finances and my “runway”,
  4. Really understand the recruiter’s role in my search (I would buy this book: How to Work with Headhunters)
  5. Really undersatnd the role of job boards, and not waste most of my time there,
  6. Network in person, even though it is hard and scary,
  7. Network online,
  8. Prepare myself mentally for a long search,
  9. Maintain relationships with my family,
  10. USE JIBBERJOBBER (of course I get to slip that one it… I’m biased, but it is still THE tool you need to use to organize it all).

In the comments there are some awesome additions.  Read the entire thing here.

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Favorite Friday: Unemployed people suck, right? Let’s not hire them.

June 28th, 2013

I wrote this June 2010 and it is unfortunately still relevant: Unemployed people suck, right? Let’s not hire them.  Even if lawmakers put laws into place to penalize discrimination against unemployed people, it will still happen.  Just like age, race and other discrimination happens with recruiters, hiring managers, company owners, HR, etc.  Here’s the post from three years ago (there are 18 comments there… great stuff):

I must be getting grumpy in my old age, with all of this venting I’m doing!  This post really ticks me off.  I just wrote a post on Peter Newfield’s Career Resumes blog (I’ve been blogging there for the last many months) titled The Unemployed Will Not Be Considered.  WHAT??? It comes from a Huffington Post article of a similar name… go check out Peter’s blog to see what I wrote.

This practice is archaic and out of touch with reality.  Do these companies, discriminating against those who are out on the street for no good reason, really think that only looking at currently employed people is going to get them the best talent?

What a fallacy.

The companies listed in the HuffPo article include:

  • An “anonymous company” that has an opening posted at The People Place recruiting board.  Who made this decision, and why?
  • Benchmark Electronics, who defends the policy saying they don’t want to waste their time with unqualified applicants.  I get that… but that doesn’t mean you should cut out all unemployed people.
  • Sony Ericsson temporarily had this statement on their job descriptions: “NO UNEMPLOYED CANDIDATES WILL BE CONSIDERED AT ALL.”  Seriously, what outdated recruiting book did this come from??  At least they removed it once “it was noticed.”  (oops, one mark against copy and paste).
  • An unnamed restaurant in NJ, looking for an assistant restaurant manager…. must be currently employed.
  • An unnamed “top 25 CPA firm” in NYC, same thing.

Judy Conti (who needs my LinkedIn DVD – just look at her Profile!)  is the federal advocacy coordinator for the National Employment Law Project, and said some awesome stuff, including (read her comments in the last 2 paragraphs of the HuffPo article):

“In the current economy, where millions of people have lost their jobs through absolutely no fault of their own, I find it beyond unconscionable that any employer would not consider unemployed workers for current job openings,”

I agree.. beyond unconscionable.

 

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Favorite Friday: “I Guarantee I’ll Find You A Job” (RUN AWAY!!)

June 21st, 2013

I wrote this May 2009: “I Guarantee I’ll Find You A Job”

A few years ago branding and marketing experts told me I had to put some kind of guarantee or phrase in my marketing that would promise JibberJobber would help you find a job 30% faster, or get more job offers, or something like that.

It sounded really cool, of course… who wouldn’t want a guarantee to make their job search go faster, or be more successful?

Who doesn’t want a silver bullet for their job search?  Please, just give me “the job search secret,” let me move on to my next job and wash my hands of this unemployment crap.

There was no way I would put any kind of promise, or allude to any such promise, in my literature.  First of all, how do you back it up?  Second, what about the anomalies the economy (which was quite different three years ago), and the slackers?  What about people who weren’t doing a principle-based search (like mine – very not principle-based, and destined to failure)?

Perhaps the problem is my solution (JibberJobber) wasn’t priced appropriately.  For $99/year, what could you expect – a job lead straight to the corner office?  Not hardly.

We all know throwing money at a problem will make it go away – so what if I pay $7,500 to a firm that will find me a job?  Sounds sweet, and that sounds like just the right price (comparable to an amazing vacation, an industry certification and training, a car for my kid, etc…. this is not peanuts – since it costs so much it must work).

In the comments yesterday a JibberJobber Partner, Mike Ballardwrote:

Another expose that needs to be done is that of so-called ‘Search’ firms that charge exorbitant up-front fees (often thousands of dollars) for their services, in exchange for a guaranteed ‘dream job’. Like the Ladders, these operations traditionally prey upon high-end execs that they figure have plenty of extra cash. Now we at (his employer) are beginning to hear stories of similar operations that are target low-income workers and charge a few hundred dollars for ‘guaranteed’ results. This is even more despicable for someone who may be only a few paychecks from the street.

There’s a big difference between hiring a job search or career coach who will help you along the process, and hiring a firm who will guarantee you a great job.  Can such a guarantee exist?

I can’t remember the names of any such firms right now, but I do remember hearing about some who continually change their names so you can’t find much information about them – my point is, please be careful where you put your money in a job search – and be very suspicous of guarantees or claims that seem to good to be true, even if they do look like your silver bullet to kill this problem.

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

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