Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec Warns Against Career-Marketing Scams

Firms that take advantage of vulnerable job seekers

As the job market worsens, career predators-firms that take advantage of vulnerable job seekers by charging fees in advance for promises they can''t keep-are emerging in huge numbers, according to, The Wall Street Journal''s executive career site.

Career-marketing scam artists often promise access to the so-called ''hidden job market'' and typically require large advance payments, says Tony Lee, editor in chief of But there''s no such thing as the ''hidden job market,'' and any firm that promises to help you find it in return for a few thousand dollars in advance should be avoided at all costs.
Career-marketing scams have been around for at least two decades, but unlike traditional career counselors who charge hourly fees, career marketers typically require payment in advance of $2,000 to more than $30,000, depending on the candidate''s previous salary level. The firms often promise access to unlisted and unadvertised opportunities, personal relationships with top executive recruiters across the country, personal relationships with board members, CEOs, presidents, and other decision makers, and direct mail to venture capitalists. But they rarely deliver, reports
These outfits call themselves career-management, career-marketing, executive-marketing or retail-outplacement firms, says Lee. If one of them promises you something that seems too good to be true, scrupulously check its references, and call both the state attorney general''s office and the local Better Business Bureau to see if there''s been a history of complaints.
Advance-fee firms often use newspaper ads to reach prospective clients, but many now rely on unsolicited emails sent to thousands of people daily to spread the word. Before you agree to pay in advance for job-search assistance, advises that you do the following:
Request and check out the company''s references.
Find out what the company''s refund policy is if they don''t fulfill their obligations.
Make sure their pricing schedule includes full disclosure on what services are provided for the fee.
Do a search on the names of the firm and its executives using an Internet search engine such as Yahoo or Google for any mentions on consumer-complaint sites.
Visit one of the numerous web sites devoted to uncovering scams. A list can be found at