Be Careful of LinkedIn and Resume Writing Rip-offs

A man from Glencoe called me about misgivings he was having about the resume he’d received from some online LinkedIn profile writing service. He’d paid a lot! He asked me to view what they’d done and tell him if he’d been scammed. A quick look showed the work was amateurish—like this company had hired some high school kids.

A Google search turned up dozens of bitter complaints about this company.

Resume email blasts

A woman from Kenilworth approach me sheepishly after paying thousands of dollars to a company that wrote her resume and sent it out in email blasts. They did her a huge disservice by first creating a mediocre resume that made this outstanding executive look ordinary and then sending this resume to lots of companies.

Fortunately, these bad resumes didn’t damage her reputation much. Unsolicited resumes rarely see the light of day. Many of the companies receiving the resumes weren’t companies in her field. Then, since the email list was hugely out of date, many of the resumes didn’t reach their targets at all. Further, they weren’t personalized. Who wants to get an email addressed to “Dear Hiring Manager”? Were anyone to actually read her resumes, she would be quickly passed over because of the poor quality resume.

In the unlikely event that she actually got an interview for a decent job, she most likely would have blown it. This company had done nothing at all to assist her in speaking powerfully about her skills and accomplishments. They also had done nothing to help her with networking techniques.

Their strategy was to send out all these emails and hope that some employer would call with just the right job. The advantage of this strategy is that it’s easy. You don’t have to pick up the phone and call strangers. There’s little chance of rejection. The obvious disadvantage it doesn’t work very well. She’d been waiting a long time for someone to call.

That said, email blasts can be part of a job campaign, if done well. But don’t rely on them. As we’ll discuss in another blog post, it’s important to use all the available job search tools and strategies.

Are you struggling with your resume? Is your job search stalled? Not sure where to begin?  Call for a no-obligation conversation  

847 673 0339 — or send us an email.  


Career Site Offers Resume Reviews—FREE!
One of the big career websites figured out that they could make a lot of money on resume scams. One of my Evanston clients sent them a resume we had laboriously worked on together, and they ripped it apart. They said it was awful. To be fair, a resume can always be improved. They did make legitimate points on two small things, but mostly, the advice was boilerplate. It had nothing to do with the resume my client sent them.

I saw a post on LinkedIn from a woman who lives in Glenview. She related her story about how she paid this company a lot of money to upgrade her resume. Just for fun, she decided to send them the resume they had created to get a free review. She soon got a scathing review from this company. The resume is terrible, they said, but they would be happy to fix it for her—for close to a thousand dollars.

This is not to say that free resume reviews are necessarily a scam. I sometimes offer that service myself. But I also have told a number of people that they didn’t need to spend money to upgrade their resume because they (or the person they’d hired) had done a great job.

Resumes and LinkedIn Profiles Done Really Really Really Cheap!
A man from Skokie got upset when I quoted my (modest) fee. After all, he’d seen services that will write resumes for fifty bucks. But the only way to make money on a service like that is to do the resumes and LinkedIn profiles really fast. Plug in the basics: name, company, titles, duties, and so on—and presto! The resume is done—and on to the next customer.

It takes time and expertise to dig into a client’s background to create a document that will be an asset in their job campaign.

These cheap resume people are usually not crooked; they’re just not very good.

So … You have been warned. Many companies see the unemployed as a population to steal from. Take action to protect yourself and your bank account.

  1. Ask for references
  2. Search for online complaints. Be aware, though, that any company that has been in business for a long time is likely to have a disgruntled customer or two. But if there are a lot of complaints, steer clear.
  3. Ask for references
  4. Find out if your colleagues, friends, and family might recommend someone.
  5. If you can afford it, get what you really need. A great resume is only about 10% of what it takes to get hired. A career coach can help with so much more:
  • Creating a marketing plan
  • Training in effective networking
  • Assistance in developing a powerful verbal presentation
  • Job interview training
  • Support and troubleshooting during the ups and downs of a campaign, and
  • Salary negotiations

Does your resume and LinkedIn profile need some help? How about your job search? Call us today at 847-673-0339 or send us a note.

“Free” Career Services Cost Me a Bundle

It’s tempting to take something when it’s free—or you can buy it for practically nothing. This
is especially true when you’re out of work. Many organizations offer free or low-cost career
services, including churches and community groups. Colleges and universities often offer
services for their grads and alma mater.
But be careful. We’ve heard from a lot of people that free and cheap can be quite
expensive. [To be fair, some services are very good; others are not. We usually get an
earful from those who have had negative experiences].


You can’t count on keeping your job.  That said, there certainly are things you can do to solidify your hold on your position. Here are ten of them.

Maria’s Campaign Goes Nowhere

A Winnetka woman we’ll call Maria scheduled a meeting with a career coach, but cancelled
at the last minute. A colleague told her about a nonprofit that offered several months of
career services for around $100. Her brother advised her not to hire a professional coach
because “you can figure it out yourself.”
The nonprofit had a number of volunteer coaches to choose from, so she picked one and set
up a meeting. This coach suggested some minor tweaks to her resume and told her about
the organization’s workshop offerings: LinkedIn profiles, resumes, job interviewing, and
more. It sounded great.

Soon Maria started networking, but something was wrong. Repeatedly, networking contacts
gave her no referrals. “What do you think I’m doing wrong?” she asked her coach. Her

coach had no idea. She said, “Do you think I’m trying to take my career in the wrong direction?” Her coach shrugged. Finally, she did get a job offer. Unfortunately, her coach urged her to push for a lot more money because “they’re always trying to underpay women.” When Wendy clumsily followed that advice, the employer offered the job to another candidate.

Ron and the church-based career ministry

I met “Ron” from Glenview at a networking meeting for executives. He advised everyone
who could afford it to hire a coach. He raved about his coach and said it was worth every
dime he’d paid.

I asked about his experience, and he said he’d gone to a career ministry at a church that
was near his home. It was free! He could meet with a coach for an hour every week. So he
signed up and made an appointment.

He struck gold on his first appointment. The man he met with (Coach #1) was astute and
the two of them clicked. Of course, they didn’t get a whole lot done in that first hour, but
Ron knew this was the coach for him. But his jaw dropped when the coach told him that he
couldn’t meet again for four weeks. He explained that he’s a popular coach and only
volunteers a few hours a week. That didn’t sit well with Ron, but who was he to complain?
He wasn’t paying anything.

Ron Gets Passed Around—and His Job Search Stalls

In the meantime, Ron made an appointment and met with coach #2. That meeting was
disappointing. They got almost nothing done other than repeating what he’d told the coach
the previous week. He wasn’t impressed with this coach’s rather formulaic advice, and so
sought out a third coach.

Most of the meeting with Coach #3 covered the same ground as his first and second
meetings. Ron thought this coach was all right so he scheduled a second meeting with her.
Unfortunately, he was 35 minutes late for his meeting due to an accident that caused a
major traffic jam on the freeway. He only had 25 minutes with Coach #3. That was
disappointing, but Ron knew the following week he’d get to meet with Coach #1 again.

Second meeting with Coach #1

That meeting didn’t disappoint. It was extremely helpful. But at the end of the meeting,
Coach #1 informed him that he was going on vacation, he had tough projects coming up at
his paid job, and yada yada yada. The end result: he couldn’t meet again for six weeks!

Bad enough! But then, when Ron checked with the scheduler, he found there were no
coaches available to meet with him the following week.

Ron Did Some Figuring

Ron sat down to think things over. Yes, he had indeed saved a bunch of money by getting
free coaching. But his time was valuable. He’d been earning $150K plus bonus before his
layoff. So each week he wasn’t working cost him over $3,000.

It was a no-brainer, Ron said. He said thank you very much to the good folks at the church
and hired a career coach.

Why Ron Advises people to Hire a Coach

Ron explained to the others at the group why he thought hiring a coach was a great
Access. His personal coach made himself available to meet regularly, and didn’t limit him to
an hour a week. They could really dig in and get things done. His campaign quickly started
Customized advice. He wasn’t getting formulaic advice, but advice that was
relevant to him and his situation.
Continuity. No more getting passed from coach to coach. Now, he met with the same
coach who knew him and what he was doing.
Expertise. While he appreciated the volunteers at the church and knows they meant well,
he was glad to work with a professional who knew his craft and could help when things got

Poorly-run job campaigns can be brutal on your self-esteem and your credibility as a
professional. It can cost you a lot of frustration—and cost you a lot of dollars.

Want to get your job campaign moving?
Call us today: 847.673.0339
We help people from across the USA

Eight Things You Need To Know About Recruiters / Don’t Waste Their Time—And Yours!

Executive recruiters can be great allies in a job search. However, those who choose to rely on them often find they wasted a lot of time in their job search. It’s important to understand who recruiters are and how they work so that you can have a mutually-beneficial relationship.

1) Understand That They Aren’t Working For You

A recruiter might be a great human being and care deeply about matching you with a good job. But you need to know that recruiters get paid by the company, not you. That’s a good thing for your bank account, but it also means their ultimate responsibility is to the company who pays the fees, not to you. Sure, good recruiters strive to make everybody happy. But most of the time, they will not actively market you. If they can match you with a job order from a company, they’ll do that. But they won’t be looking out for you beyond that. The exception is when someone has a rare skill set for which there is a big demand.

2) Find Out if You’re a Viable Candidate

Companies pay executive recruiters a hefty fee, somewhere around a fifth to a third of the candidate’s salary in their first year on the job. Companies only part with that kind of dough for people with very specific skills and backgrounds. They usually want top performers who have a stable work history in their industry. They’re looking for a tiny percentage of the available candidates, which means most of us are not what they’re looking for.

Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that you’re not talented or that you’re not a great employee. There may well be lots of employers who would love to hire you. But recruiters may not be the vehicle that will take you to that great job.

Here’s a quick example to illustrate. A client from Glencoe (we’ll call him James) was an outstanding executive—a true top performer. But he was laid off when the bottom dropped out of the market in his industry. He decided to change industries, and was confident that recruiters would find him a great job as they had in the past. James spent ten weeks waiting around for calls from recruiters. Those calls never came. Finally, he got one of the recruiters on the phone to ask why no one was presenting him. The recruiter said, “You don’t have any experience in this industry. I would lose credibility with my client companies if I presented you.” James wised up, found a career coach to learn how to approach employers directly, and soon was hired into another great job.

Do include recruiters in your job search plan, assuming they see you as a qualified candidate. Research to find the best recruiters.

3) Don’t Treat Your Recruiter Like a Career Coach

If you’re confused about what to do next in your career, don’t talk to a recruiter about it. Sure, some recruiters will help you because they’re good people, but as I’ve said, it’s not their job to resolve your career issues. Their job is to find highly-qualified candidates who are eager to help them fill job orders.

Generally speaking, if you need coaching on your resume, LinkedIn profile, or verbal presentation, you should use a career coach. Some recruiters do help with these things, but you’re usually better off having a coach who is responsible to you.

4) Be aware that there are different kinds of recruiters.

All recruiters are not alike.

Employers hire Retained Recruiters to find top candidates. These recruiters are guaranteed payment for finding candidates. They generally deal with searches in the $100,000 to $500,000 and up range.

A Contingency Recruiter generally works with searches for positions ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 range. Their compensation is not assured. They may put in a lot of hard work and walk away with nothing for their efforts because employers only pay them if and when they hire a candidate that recruiter has presented.

While contingency recruiters can be very helpful, there are pitfalls. First, you don’t want to get caught in a tug of war between two or (shudder) more than two contingency recruiters, with each claiming the fee for hiring you. A client from Highland Park lost a job because of a very ugly and unprofessional spat between two recruiters who both claimed her. The employer decided to steer clear and hired someone else.

If you’re after a job at a larger company, the fee paid to the contingency recruiter will generally not impact the hiring budget. But, if you’re talking to a small- or medium-sized company, being represented by a contingency recruiter may put you at a disadvantage. The employer may think, “If I hire a candidate who found me without using a recruiter, I can save that big recruiter fee.”

What does this mean for you? Be sure to ask if the recruiter is working on a retained or contingency basis. Some recruiters do both retained and contingency. If you find the recruiter is working on a contingency basis, be clear about which positions you’ve found on your own and which the recruiter has found on your behalf.

A third type of recruiter works in staffing companies. Their job is not to find the cream of the crop, but rather to find people who are good, competent workers. IT is just one area where these recruiters often work. They’ll hire when a company wants a number of workers for a few months or so.

Lastly, corporate recruiters work to find employees to present for internal jobs within the company where they work.

5) Be sure your self-preparation is top notch.

You can’t rely on the recruiter to do it all for you. You have to first impress the recruiter and then the employer. If you can’t speak powerfully about yourself or your resume is mediocre, you’re not going to get the job.

6) Introduce yourself

It’s helpful to make a crisp introduction by phone that will make a clear and memorable impression. Since they get a lot of phone calls, be patient and persistent to get through. When you reach the recruiter, ask what kind of interactions they prefer. You don’t want to be a pest, but the recruiter may appreciate a call every so often to let him/her know you’re still looking.

7) LinkedIn Deserves Special Attention

LinkedIn has become the recruiter’s bread and butter. Many spend much of their day searching for candidates on LinkedIn. If you don’t have a great profile, you’ll get passed over. Cutting and pasting your resume into LinkedIn is just not good practice. You should spend twice as much time crafting your LinkedIn profile as you did for your resume. If you don’t know what you’re doing, hire someone who does.

8) Be Your Own Recruiter

A job search is too important to delegate to recruiters—unless you’re happily employed, but open to new opportunities. You must be in the driver’s seat in your search. Talk to recruiters and get their help, but don’t rely on them. You should be your own recruiter, beating the bushes for opportunities with an effective networking campaign. This is especially the case in a tight job market when employers find top candidates knocking on their doors without having to pay recruiters.

Don’t neglect direct approaches to hiring decision makers, direct mail approaches, networking approaches, ads, postings, and so on. Think about where you would like to work and connect with people at those companies. This is a better approach than waiting for a recruiter to contact you, and hoping you’ll like the company who is hiring. You can also tap into the hidden job market—finding opportunities before they are advertised and those that never will be.

An anecdote from one of our clients

A client from Evanston recently struck gold in the hidden job market while networking with a vice president at a large corporation in his area. The VP spotted some experience on our client’s resume that intrigued him. In a recent job, our client had managed a certain type of program. The VP said, “We’ve never had a program like that here. I think it would be a great idea. Do you think you could start one?”

Our client gave an enthusiastic, “yes!” There was zero competition for that job.

Take responsibility for your own job search. What happens to you and your career is much more important to you than to someone else.

Steve Frederick and Jack Chapman have been helping people find fulfilling work with great compensation for over 20 years. Call us 847-673-0339 or send an EMAIL