This group of highly successful and profitable firms advertises in or close to the executive-recruitment pages. And for some executives this type of firm provides a valuable service. Career consultants help undecided executives select the right career goals by means of aptitude and interest tests and personal counseling. They provide individualized assistance in resume preparation and interview techniques. And in many cases they do their job well. It does cost, however. A young, low-priced executive ($35,000) can expect to pay $2,500 for this service A senior executive ($100,000 or more) can end up paying through the nose for such assistance. I know of cases of $5,000, $6,000 and even more. And it takes time. Counseling frequently runs over a period of months. If you have the time and the money and don't know what you want to do next, there's no question that a career consultant (or executive assessor, as one firm likes to call itself) can be of service.
The advertising by some career consultants is frequently unclear, and if you are not on your toes you might think you are looking at an advertisement placed by an executive recruiter. One frequent statement by one of the largest of these firms suggests that it has access to thousands of good positions that are not advertised. It well may, but none of the candidates I've met with who have worked with such firms has ever been told specifically of any! If you are not interested in career counseling, look for the line buried in the ad in two-point type that says: "Not an employment agency or job placement service." If you do pursue help from a career consultant, a second word of caution: You might be confused by what your career consultant says at your preliminary interview concerning your fee and what it will get for you. To avoid any confusion, let me tell you in advance: Your fee does not guarantee you a job. (Career consultants are not in the recruiting business, so they don't have positions to advise you of.) But your fee is payable whether or not you land a job. Think it over before you sign on the dotted line.
You may come across several ads that offer to expose qualified candidates to hundreds of companies with positions that need filling now. The advertisers who promise this generally have very impressive titles. If you send your resume in to one of them, you probably will be invited to a personal interview. There you'll be told that this firm exposes the resumes of exceptional job-seekers in a unique manner. Here's how: The resume peddler reduces all resumes to half-page summaries (anonymous) and publishes a book of resumes periodically (usually one each month). Some peddlers mail out their resume summaries to personnel directors at a select list of companies. Other peddlers maintain field representatives who make calls on personnel directors, carrying with them binders filled to the brim with such summaries. You'll be advised that there is a modest charge for summarizing your resume and including it in the book. It runs around $100. And it's rebatable if one of the companies contacted by the resume peddler meets you and hires you. From my experience, the resume peddler has a better deal than you do. He makes about $97 on your resume summary, while your chances of selling yourself with his resume summary (which is devoid of all your worth points and is but a mere skeleton of your work experience) seem to be pretty slim.
Recently I learned of a new version of this service that has gone electronic. Not only is your resume summarized and published anonymously, but a ten-minute videotape interview is made of you.
You have a chance to sell yourself to an out-of-town client who is impressed by your background. Of course, a videotaped interview has several drawbacks. First, you can only talk generally about your back-ground because you don't know who your prospective employer is or what his specific problems are. Second, this electronic interview obviates the necessity of a meeting in person, which is what you wanted in the first place. I wouldn't place a high priority on the results of resume peddlers in your job search. But the decision to use them is, of course, up to you.
There are a number of firms that help job-seekers prepare their resumes for a relatively modest fee (from a low of $50 for the young executive to several hundred dollars for the well-heeled vice-president). These firms employ professional word crafters who can take your experience and make it sound good. Each firm has its own resume format, but most today include worth points in some form or other, so that a resume prepared by such a firm could be of value to you if you are absolutely unable to prepare your own. Several things about the resumes I've seen from these firms concern me, however, and I must pass my concerns along to you.
For some reason, unknown to me, page one of such resumes usually includes a glowing description of the person, using words that sound as if they came from a military commendation. In a resume, words like these make you seem to be tooting your horn. As you know, it's much more convincing to let your deeds speak for you. Your eloquent description of your magnificence suggests only one thing: that you might be an egotist.
Professional resumes tend to look and sound like one another. At one time I received five professionally written resumes from five candidates who answered an ad placed by my firm. Although the people in question had substantially different backgrounds, each sounded as magnificent as the other. As such, professionally written resumes can be spotted a mile away. In submitting such a resume, you obviously run the risk of having your prospective boss think you can't write. That's a dangerous shortcoming when you are being compared to other candidates who can.
From my point of view, it's worth sweating a little to write your own resume. And then, if you're so inclined, have it critiqued by a friend or professional in your field, or by a reputable authority. If all fails, you should get help. But at all costs avoid the professional resume houses that accept mail inquiries. Any resume-writer who can write your resume without meeting you has got to be a mind reader or a charlatan. In my book, he's a charlatan.
Attractive, well-spoken candidates that naturally project the kind of image that prospective employers seek obviously have a leg up on candidates that lack that special quality. If you have the natural gift of gab and look like a model from Gentleman's Quarterly or Vogue you can skip over this section.
But if you don't think the image of you is as good as the results you are capable of achieving, or if your voice doesn't command the attention that you know your ideas deserve, or if you just aren't sure how you come across, you might consider an image or communications consultant. Such experts aren't inexpensive, but they can be very helpful, particularly to more senior managers who are having difficulty projecting the image required to make it to the executive ranks. If you elect to seek such counsel, you'll be televised in a simulated interview, and advised concerning your dress, demeanor, posture, gestures, voice level and pitch, and articulation. You'll be presented with suggestions for changing your image in all areas, and offered an opportunity to practice the skills required to change the way you come across.You may also find you don't need to invest in professional counsel, although if you do, the investment may be a valuable one.