The resume writers and career coaches I know are extremely ethical and reputable, but as our fees rise (as they should!) we have to be careful not to be lumped into the ranks with the Bernard Haldane firms of the world.
Prominently featured on Nick Corcodilos "Ask the Headhunter" website is the story of "Executive Career Counselors, Inc.", a fictionalized name for a real firm ... not a professional resume writing firm, mind you, but one of those firms that promises "access to the hidden job market."
I urge you to read it carefully -- and consider the promises we make to our clients. We are ethically bound not to overpromise -- and we must ensure that they take an active role in their own job search, lest they spread the word about you and your firm.
"Mr. CFO" is complicit in his own misfortune too -- he claims he knew better than to "spam" HR personnel, but admits he sent out over 6,000 resumes through his affiliation with "ECC." They did have some useful ideas for him -- joining professional associations and attending industry conferences -- but he was reluctant to throw good money after bad. He'd spend $10,000 on the EEC services, but not $1,200 to get face-to-face with peers in his industry who know of job openings (by attending conferences).
These types of individuals are ripe for being sucked into scams -- they would rather spend money than their time -- but they are also the first to blame you when "the resume" doesn't get them the job. (Nevermind that, like Mr. CFO, they change the resume.)
It's a cautionary tale -- not just for job searchers but for the careers industry. We are lumped in with these firms and the myth is perpetuated that anyone who you pay to help you with your job search is out to rip you off.
Even when the company name is fictionalized, stories like this give us all a bad name.