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Job Seekers Beware: The ''Resume Writer'' Scam Strac Ivanov, MBA, co-founder of the Vicinity Jobs Network and Fairy Lake Jobs, Feb 14,2008

About Author

Strac Ivanov is the president of IT-Challenger Consulting Group, and co-founder of the Vicinity Jobs Network of Community Job Search Engines serving the suburban communities of Greater Toronto. Strac holds a Master's degree in Business Administration and has over a decade of experience in the field of integrating Internet based solutions into businesses.

Someone forwarded to me an email thread recently, illustrating how a self-professed 'career consultant' tried to get her to pay him for 'optimizing' her resume and ''finding a job''. When she responded that she was not interested, the individual offered to 'help' by having her pay for his 'services' by 'working' for him -- essentially helping him find other victims.

Don't get me wrong: I am not advising against using publicly funded resume writing assistance services provided by your local community services organizations. These are valuable services that were specifically introduced to help you find employment. Neither am I suggesting that hiring a reputable, qualified resume writer will not benefit your job search. A focused, well-written resume is pivotal to the success of your job search efforts. I am warning you against retaining individuals who try to intimidate you into buying from them ''resume writing'' and ''career consulting'' services with questionable quality, origin, and value.

Our investigation concluded that the fraudster had not used the Vicinity Jobs Network. Nonetheless, I find the dynamics of this new scam quite alarming, and I believe that job seekers should be aware of it. It is new, and it once again illustrates how inventive scammers can be. It goes like this:

You submit your resume in response to a job posting. Someone responds to your application saying that a 'customer' forwarded your resume to them with a request to collect more details because your resume is missing information. (In our example, the fraudster actually made it look as if an employee of a major hotel chain had forwarded the resume to him). Then you learn that there is a charge for making your resume 'complete', but once your resume is 'ready', you are promised help finding a job. To make this claim look credible, the scammers may even send you a list of what looks like 'real' jobs including job titles, locations, and even salary ranges. If you proceed, you will end up paying for little or no services, and discovering that the individual has no real job for you.

How can you protect yourself? Here are some simple advises that I would give to job seekers:

  • Beware any 'resume writer' who solicits you offering to improve your resume: Reputable resume writers do not need to solicit prospective customers directly, they get enough referrals from satisfied clients, business associates, and traditional advertising;
  • Beware anyone who offers you to work in exchange for their services. Genuine businesses hire people and pay wages when they need to have work done.

  • If you decide that hiring a professional resume writer is the right option for you, shop around before you buy. Don't be afraid to ask questions: As a prospective customer, you have the right to know whom you are dealing with. Get references from satisfied clients, ask for the person's credentials, make sure that you have their complete contact information, including a phone number, address, etc. Verify the contact information by calling the phone number, checking local white page listings, etc. Ask whether the individual is a member of the PARW/CC (Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches: ), and if they are, verify their claim on the association's web site. (Don't forget to make sure that the contact provided to you matches the contact information on the PARW web site.) If they are not a PARW member, ask why not.

  • Avoid dealing with a resume writer whom you cannot meet in person, unless you have been referred to them by someone whom you know well and who has used their services in the past.

  • Don't let anyone intimidate you into buying their services. Be suspicious of people claiming that 'your resume is full of mistakes but we will help you fix it'. Even if this is true, there are other services and service providers who can help without intimidating you. It is a good idea to contact the Employment Resource Centre in your local community and ask if they can help: More likely than not, they offer free resume writing workshops where an employment facilitator can help you improve your resume.

In the end, the best advise anyone can give you is the obvious one: Remember that many scams prey on job seekers. Be vigilant and research the background of any company or individual whom you deal with. For more tips about avoiding job market scams in general, click here to read my article about Avoiding Job Market Scams.