Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Helping Clients Avoid Employment Scams

Internet scams are everywhere. Just this past weekend, I received a classic e-mail scam ... it was an e-mail purporting to be from an esteemed colleague of mine. It said he was stuck in London and needed me to wire him some money. Fortunately, I'd heard of this scam before and didn't fall for it.

But how many of us have clients who are falling for employment scams or work-at-home schemes? The answer is: Too many.

In the Spring 2009 issue of Resume Writers' Digest, I pointed out some scams you should warn your clients about. With the e-mail I got this weekend, it's a good time to remind you of these.
  • "Pay to Play" work-at-home schemes. The premise sounds great: Work from home and earn hundreds or thousands of dollars per week. The scam might be sending off for a special "kit" that outlines how to make money (but is often a "system" where the buyer recruits other unsuspecting buyers to purchase the "system). Or your client might pay for supplies for a product that is assembled at home and sold back to the company, but only if it meets "specifications" -- which the assembled products rarely do. Other "pay to play" schemes require you to pay a subscription fee to access a website where work-at-home job opportunities may be posted. While some of these sites are legitimate, many are not.
  • The Mystery Shopper. An investigative news program recently spotlighted job postings on Craiglist for mystery shopping positions. The "company" sends the job seekers a check to cover "expenses" and asks him or her to "mystery shop" -- sending money via wire transfer. The individual deposits the supposedly legitimate check into his or her bank account and wires a portion of the amount back to the company, "keeping" the balance as their "salary." A few days later, the "mystery shopper" is notified by their bank that the check they deposited was fraudulent or has bounced. They are then liable for covering the full amount they wired (that money is long gone), plus bank fees.
New twist on the Mystery Shopper is the "Reshipper." These job seekers respond to ads for "quality control" positions. You receive merchandise, inspect it, and mail it on to the final recipient. Only many of the goods are stolen (or purchased using stolen credit cards) and you're helping facilitate the crime.
  • Help Accessing the "Hidden Job Market." While there are legitimate job agents (and recruiters and resume writers) that can help job seekers find unadvertised positions, there is also an entire class of scam artists that prey on the insecurities of the unemployed, especially managers and executives. Some firms represent themselves as employment agencies or recruiters but require job seekers to pay $5,000 to $12,000 (on average) for assistance in accessing the "hidden job market." These firms give legitimate career services professionals a bad name. The big giveaway is that they make candidates "qualify" to become a client, require them to provide detailed financial information as part of the applications process, and the spouse is often "invited" to become part of the process. These companies often attract candidates by placing ads disguised as job postings. See the "Ask the Headhunter" article for more details on this.
  • Commission-Only Jobs. I often advise clients to set up a separate e-mail account for job searching, particularly if they have sales-related keywords in their resumes. These folks are likely to be targeted for fake "job openings" for commission-only sales positions. Remind your clients to research companies before going on interviews -- a simple Google search can sometimes alert them to these kinds of "jobs."
Do you know of any other employment scams? Comment on my blog below.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Getting the Most Out of Your CDI Conference Experience

I have promised Laura DeCarlo that someday I will make it to a Career Directors International Conference ("Career Empowerment Summit"). The 2010 CDI conference will be in San Diego from Oct. 14-16, 2010 -- and, unfortunately for me, coincides once again with my other passion: UNO Maverick Hockey. (If all goes as planned, I'll be in Minneapolis at that time.)

But for you lucky folks who get to be there, I want to share some ideas on how to get the most out of your experience. (These ideas are based on an article by columnist Robert Middleton in the Summer 2009 issue of Resume Writers' Digest.)
  • Remember that everyone you meet is a potential referral source. The best resume writers are specialists, not generalists. That means that you have the opportunity to gain referrals from your colleagues who don't work in the same areas you do. I am always looking for writers who are really good at what they do when I attend a conference. As a result, I've made referrals to writers who specialize in military transition resumes and federal resumes -- all from contacts I've made at conferences.
  • Collect business cards. Make sure you get cards from the resume writers you meet, so you can follow up with them when you get back home. (Conversely, make sure you bring plenty of your cards with you too!)
  • Participate in the conference! Yes, I know conferences are often also vacations ... but you're missing out if you hit the beach instead of that afternoon session. The beach will still be there ... but you might learn that one most valuable piece of information you really needed for your business to succeed ... or you might be sitting next to your new top referral source! I agree with Robert Middleton: "Attend every session, every meal, every reception, and every event." As a corollary to this: Do NOT expect to be able to work on client projects while you're at the conference. You won't get the most out of your experience if you're sitting in a session working on a client project. (Yes, I've seen this actually happen at a conference.)
  • Participate in workshop sessions. Don't be a wallflower -- get involved! Ask questions. Approach the presenter after the session. Take part in the group activities.... even if you're shy!!
  • Follow up after the conference. Most conference organizers will give you a list of everyone who participated. E-mail these folks ... connect with them on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. These are great connections to continue in the virtual world!
Enjoy the conference ... and if you'd like to write up a session or two for a future issue of Resume Writers' Digest, send me an e-mail! E-mail me at editor(at)rwdigest.com.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Next Resume Writing Academy (RWA) Live Class Begins Sept. 24

There is no college degree offered at the moment for resume writing, so the next best thing (or, from my perspective, even better than a degree program!) is the Resume Writing Academy, offered by Wendy S. Enelow and Louise M. Kursmark.

Billed as "the nation's premier resume training organization," RWA offers comprehensive training for resume writers looking to improve their skills or for new professionals looking to enter the industry. The program includes eight weekly teleseminars and three independent learning programs. Program graduates are eligible for ACRW (Academy Certified Resume Writers) credentialing.

The next live class begins Sept. 24. An independent study option is available to begin anytime. Visit
www.resumewritingacademy.com or call Wendy Enelow at (434) 299-5600 for more information.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Better Questions: Better Resumes (Bridget's Top 5)

"Garbage in. Garbage out."

When writing a resume, the information you are able to collect from clients makes a huge difference. Ask the right question, and you can unlock a treasure trove of valuable accomplishments and insight from the client about his/her value to the employer.

In an article in the Summer 2009 issue (back issues are available for purchase for $3 each), I wrote an article called "A Perfect '10': Better Questions Yield Better Resumes." In it, I identified 10 key questions in four specific categories:
  • Collecting Information About the Client's Job Target/Desired Job
  • Questions to Capture the Essence of the Client's Current Job
  • Questions to Elicit Information About Accomplishments
  • Other General Questions
If I had to pick my top 5 questions from the ones listed in the article, it would be these:
  1. In your performance reviews, in what areas did you receive the highest scores or the most positive feedback?
  2. What is the most important part of your current job?
  3. What have you achieved in your job -- have you saved your employer any money or achieved any other quantifiable measure (helped the company make money, become more efficient, improve safety, improve customer service, etc.)?
  4. What have you introduced at your firm that has never existed before ... or what did you improve upon?
  5. What sets you apart from other candidates for this job?
For more client questions and tips for effective resume writing, purchase the "Write Great Resumes Faster" special report for just $14.