Question: I just spent an interesting hour or so with an executive career marketing firm that has been in business for 50 years.
They want $9,600 dollars to help me find a job in my current geographical region, in 90 days, with an average of 25% raise in pay.
They do personality stuff, interview taping, and set you up with some CEOs. Their marketing philosophy is to not look for vacancies. I was fortunate enough to go through a lot of the interview skills training with my present company. (I’m losing my job due to a merger, not any failure of my own.) Are these types of companies worth it? It’s hard to let go of this kind of cash right now.
My Advice: Save your money. I've heard only horror stories from people who've signed up with such firms. If you read the fine print carefully, all of those promises are irrelevant in light of the typical disclaimer: They won't guarantee you a job, any particular salary level, or a refund if you’re dissatisfied. If you don’t find a job, the guarantee usually promises "all the additional counseling" you can stand.
Another common ploy of these firms: The impressive point man who sells the service isn't the person who does the counseling. Too often, the counselor is someone you've never met who isn't very skilled.
You can get most of what these “executive marketing firms” deliver for free at your library and online. If you want to try some personality/aptitude tests, then your alma mater probably offers them for free or for a small fee. Contact the alumni association. Your local community college may also administer tests and interpret them. But I'm not a big fan of tests. Too much depends on the quality of the interpretation. They can be fun and interesting, but they're not very practical in terms of guidance. (See “Employment Tests: Get An Edge.”)
No one can guarantee you a job, much less a particular salary. Don’t fall prey to an empty sales pitch. If these firms could really deliver jobs reliably time after time, then the whole world would be standing in line for their services. Ten grand isn't too much to pay for a guaranteed job. But I don't see any lines forming.
1. Ask for references: Seek out people who've used the service who found jobs in 90 days at higher salaries, and people who have used the service but who didn't find jobs. Why should the counseling firm give you the latter references? Because no firm has 100% success, and it matters how the people they didn't help were treated. If they won't give you access to both kinds of references, then I doubt you’re dealing with good people.
2. Ask how they charge: If the firm has good references and offers personalized service, then make sure you pay as you go, not in one big payment up front. If you’re not happy, you can stop paying and walk away. My guess is they want all or most of the fee up front. Don’t do it.
3. Find a career counselor instead: If you really need hand-holding during your job search, find a certified counselor who will tell you up front what he will actually do for you. An honest one will not promise you a job. (That's why they call it "counseling" and not "job delivery.")
I wish you the best.