Would You Outsource Your Career Management?

I’m sitting here at 11000m above the ground somewhere between Melbourne and Sydney thinking about career management. Why? You ask. Well late last week one of our consultants received within the space of an hour three emails from three different candidates attaching their CVs and asking politely for meetings with us and for their CVs to be added to our database for consideration for any current and future roles we may be trying to fill.

Nothing unusual in that, you think.

Each CV was accompanied by a 4 paragraph cover letter (email), and each was identically worded. Clearly this was no coincidence so to find out what was going on, we called that candidates and asked them.

Each candidate had engaged the services of a “Career Transition Specialist” to market them. This so-called specialist had mass emailed their CVs to a number of executive search companies including Mindset, hence the common, but lazy, cover letter. When we explained what had happened to the candidates they were dismayed, not least that each of them had parted with a not inconsiderable amount of money for these services (one of them over $10,000!).

We’ve all seen the adverts in The Age (and presumably other newspapers) advertising their services. “Access the hidden job market”, “professionally manage your career”, “looking for your next career challenge” they implore. These companies charge candidates a fee to market them to prospective employers and recruiters. Although not a new phenomenon in Australia, they seem to be gaining some traction of late. I’d be interested in seeing what performance guarantees they offer to their clients, and what ethical stance these organisations take.

Ethical recruiters should only work with one client in an industry so that there is no conflict of interest. At Mindset we have turned business away when we have been approached by a client’s competitor to also recruit for them. If one of these “Career Transition Specialists” has taken money from 3 similarly qualified candidates which one do they put forward and sell more heavily for a position? Presumably they are obligated to sell the one who had paid the highest fee, but then where does that leave the lower paying clients (candidates)?

But ultimately, I ask the question; would you outsource the management of your career to someone else? Personally I wouldn’t. To a large extent, our careers define who we are and our positions in society. From a recruiter’s perspective, we don’t want to deal with the spin these marketing companies place on their candidates. I’d rather deal directly with the candidate. Using one of the marketing companies also raises the question about how much energy they are personally prepared to exert to manage their career. For something so important, I’d want to see personal input and activity.

The mass emails we received last week, actively went against the interests of the candidates. Not least of which we now know that the well written cover letter was NOT the work of the individuals sending them. We have no personal feel for these candidates. It has also raised questions on the veracity of their CVs.

My recommendation to job seekers therefore is to manage your own careers. By all means get professional help with your CVs, they are your primary marketing document after all. But send out your own letters. Make the phone calls to the employers and recruiters yourself. Record the roles you have applied for and follow up the organisations yourself. Your own efforts and activities will be appreciated and will almost always get you what you want faster.

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