A Warning for Boomers Looking for Work

Beware job search firms who require hefty upfront payments.


Baby boomers who are back in the job market after a long time of employment need to show extreme caution in paying for help with their job search.

Several clients of a Florida executive search firm say they paid as much as $8,900 in initial fees for services that were never rendered, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

While the state attorney general's office investigates the Princeton Executive Group and its sister firm Florida Executive search "for a pattern of deceptive conduct," clients tell the newspaper that they left voicemails that were never returned, received little or no career coaching, and got no appointments.

Another recruiter tells the paper:

Companies that charge a large sum of money then provide limited services "take advantage of people at the worst time of their lives, when they're unemployed," Lasher said.

Baby Boomers who have been out of the job market for a decade or two are particularly vulnerable.

If you're back in the job market after a long time in the office, keep in mind that there are free public programs that can help you brush up on job search skills and direct you to opportunities. They may be offered through community colleges or government programs. Find state-by-state help here.

Executives who would like to work with headhunters should call managers at companies they would like to work for and politely ask which headhunters they work with, according to Ask the Headhunter.

The Federal Trade Commission offers these tips:

  • Be suspicious of any employment-service firm that promises to get you a job.Be skeptical of any employment-service firm that charges up-front fees, even if it guarantees refunds to dissatisfied customers.
  • Don't give out your credit card or bank account information on the phone unless you're familiar with the company and agree to pay for something. Anyone who has your account information can use it to commit financial fraud against you.
  • Get a copy of the firm's contract and review it carefully before you pay any money. Understand the terms and conditions of the firm's refund policy. Make sure you understand what services will be provided by the firm and what you'll be responsible for. If oral promises are made that don't also appear in the contract, think twice about doing business with the firm.
  • Take your time reviewing the contract. Don't be rushed into paying for services. Avoid high-pressure sales pitches that require you to pay now or risk losing out on the opportunity.
  • Be cautious about purchasing from a firm that's reluctant to answer your questions or gives you evasive answers.
  • Be aware that some listing services and "consultants" may place ads that seem to offer jobs when, in fact, they're selling employment information.
  • Follow up with the offices of any company or organization listed in an ad by an employment service, to find out if the company's really hiring.
  • Be wary of firms promoting "previously undisclosed" federal government jobs. All federal positions are announced to the public.
  • Check with your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General's Office, and the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed about a company with which you intend to do business.
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