Should You Pay To Get A High-End Job?

In this crowded job market, many savvy seekers are hiring professional marketers to sell themselves to potential employers. Here’s how to pick the right man (or woman) for the job.

WSJ: [Y]ou could spend plenty for such services with scant results. In the past, state agencies cracked down on numerous career-marketing concerns for charging hefty upfront fees without fulfilling their promises. “A lot of people would like to make money off job seekers,” cautions Joseph Daniel McCool, a management-succession consultant in Amherst, N.H. “Not all will bring you the ideal job at the end of the rainbow.”…

  • Executive Marketing Firms: David Werner International aids executives earning at least $300,000 annually. The firm revamps each client’s résumé and sends letters touting his or her qualifications to as many as 3,000 companies, says David Werner, its president. Because most prospects are employed, the letters usually omit their identities. Clients typically pay $26,000 plus a $13,000 “success fee” if they land positions through the company…[One client] believes the $30,000 he has given Mr. Werner was money well spent — despite his lack of permanent employment. “I’m happy to pay David a bigger success fee if his work helps me take on an even more meaningful assignment than the last.” Certain Werner clients are unhappy, however. Steven L’Heureux, a California broadcast-technology executive, says Mr. Werner contacted 962 concerns on his behalf without naming him. The letters “didn’t produce a single interview,” the executive recalls. “A blind mailing campaign is not the best way to get a job.” Mr. Werner disagrees. He says Mr. L’Heureux’s name was disclosed in certain letters and the former client “did get interviews” because he paid $5,500 after obtaining at least one interview. Mr. L’Heureux says he used Mr. Werner because “he promised his approach would generate results.” He says he paid Mr. Werner a total of $22,000, but didn’t pay the $11,000 success fee due if he had gotten a job through Mr. Werner’s efforts. On his own, the executive got a new job last month as chief operating officer of a California technology concern.
  • Executive Agents: Executive agents are personal talent scouts, similar to their sports counterparts. They arrange introductions at selected employers, coach during offer negotiations — and continue counseling clients once they find jobs. In exchange, agents charge plenty. Mr. Lenarsky usually collects a $25,000 retainer plus 6% of a client’s total annual compensation if the agent continues to counsel the client after a hire. Matt Pillar, co-founder of an investment firm in Santa Monica, Calif., says the agent opened doors for him in summer 2007 by calling officials at a major entertainment and media company where Mr. Lenarsky once worked. Mr. Pillar landed a vice presidency there weeks later. He retained the agent for on-the-job coaching until he quit last fall. Job hunting again, Mr. Pillar gleans leads from Mr. Lenarsky. He represents “another tool in my toolbox,” Mr. Pillar explains. The downside? Only a handful of executive agents operate in the U.S.
  • Certified Personal Branding Strategists: Branding specialists are more plentiful — and cheaper. Nearly 300 people, mainly career coaches, have completed a 12-week certification program run by Reach, a New York personal-branding company. They charge clients between $2,000 and $20,000, according to William Arruda, Reach’s founder. Strategists help job seekers recognise their unique strengths, determine their target audience, craft a “personal brand statement” and improve their online identities. The approach paid off for a London, Ontario, client of Mr. Copcutt’s, Julie Chen, who practices naturopathic medicine, which uses natural remedies such as herbs…But the branding process can take months, discouraging applicants eager to find employment fast. To reduce anxiety among layoff victims, Reach recently launched a free “Career Bailout” program — in which 13 certified strategists provide services such as a résumé review and online identity evaluation. Yet few victims are using the limited assistance. “We have not spent enough time making the program visible,” Mr. Arruda says.

Read more from The Wall Street Journal here>

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