Will help the unemployed for money

Can't touch this, nor do you want to.

Can't touch this, nor do you want to.

It never ceases to amaze me just how many people want my money. There’s not that much of it, even when including the change jar, the Altoids tin for quarters and whatever the cats collect with their miniature coffee cups (and “will ignore you for food” signs) down by the subway tracks. The number of companies with hands outstretched has only increased in unemployment. Didn’t they get the memo? Didn’t they read the billboards? Didn’t they see the handiwork of the skywriter I hired to fly over the Super Bowl? Well let me sum it up… I DON’T HAVE A JOB!

That might be exactly the point. Marketing to the unemployed and others hit hard by the down economy is everywhere. It’s growing into quite a cottage industry – one to be wary of – as this excellent San Francisco Chronicle article explores…

Unemployed? Tell me where it hurts.

According to writer Chris Colin, “the downturn has given rise to an army of consultants, coaches, advisers, experts and others…” who want to help those hurt by the economy. Some were layoff victims themselves, and are looking to make lemonade out of lemons. And some may even have people’s best interests in mind, insofar as they match up with their own profit motive. We still live in a capitalist society, sort of. None of this necessarily means that we need – or can afford – what they’re selling. Nor does it mean their products and services are worth the price.

Desperation makes people ripe for exploitation. Many marketers rely and prey on it. Take it from someone who’s been around the block a few times and had zillions of fliers shoved in his face (and loves talking about himself in the third person), people want money and have interesting ways to get it.

Look no further than your good friend, the job site. Moments after posting a resume, the ridiculous emails offering useless services start coming in. The resume fax blast might be my favorite. For a low, low fee, JobsByFax promises to get a resume into the hands of Human Resources at top companies. I can just picture the scene at Super Big Company Willing To Pay Me Lots of Money, Inc. Jobless and Less Happy Fun-time Players, take it away…

JOAN, president of HR, hovers over department fax machine looking concerned.

[Beep] [Beep]

JOAN

Come quick everyone, we’ve got a resume coming through on the fax machine.

STEVE, vice president of HR, comes running. He’s out of breath from chain-smoking unfiltered Marlboros at his desk. The tips of his fingers are black from making carbon copies.

STEVE

What’s his name?

JOAN

I can’t read it. But if he faxed his resume, he must be a technology expert. And we really need a technology expert.

STEVE

My PET Computer‘s been acting funny lately. I’ll get him on the phone right away.

JOAN

See if he will start tomorrow. Offer to pay him whatever he wants. I have to have him working for us.

(Cut to the late 1970s)

Come on, does anyone even use a fax machine anymore? I can’t remember the last fax I received that didn’t involve Caribbean cruises or deals on toner cartridges. This service seems like a great way to lighten your wallet, waste paper and guarantee continued unemployment.

I found a site the other day called Government Job Search that helps people find jobs with federal and state governments. This could be a perfectly reasonable service, in theory; applying for government jobs can be daunting. The site provides basic job listings for free. Their premium service delivers “…all of the information that a job seeker would need to assess their qualifications for a position, analyze the complete job requirements and apply for the position.” It costs approximately $36.50 per year, or as they price it out on the site, less than ten cents a day (the Sally Struthers model applied to job search). Of course, federal and state governments generally offer the same job listings and application info on their official sites (USAJobs, for example)… where users can actually apply for the jobs… for free. I’m not really sure what value this site provides.

I can’t seem to get away from all those Cash4Gold commercials on TV. You’d think the obvious solution would be less late-night television. But they air on every channel all the time. That’s right, some channels have actually done away with programming in favor of an all Cash4Gold schedule. I have to admit, the one ad with Ed McMahon looking really old and MC Hammer looking really desperate is pretty funny. This service – exchanging unwanted gold for cash – is perfectly situated to capitalize on desperation in hard economic times. People in need of money put their gold stuff in an envelope and mail it off to the company, which remits payment based on weight, purity and market prices for gold. I’m guessing the margin between what they pay out and what they sell the melted-down gold for is pretty big.

There are so many problems with this setup, my brain hurts just thinking about it. Mailing your valuables in an envelope addressed to “Cash4Gold” is like saying, “please steal from me” to everyone who handles that envelope. Of course your valuables are safe once they reach Cash4Gold headquarters because the “entire Cash4Gold process is monitored by our security enforcement staff.” That’s reassuring. The gold owner is relying on this company to honestly assess the gold and place a value on it. We can’t trust our most esteemed financial institutions not to steal from taxpayers, yet it’s somehow reasonable to trust a company that uses “as seen on TV” as a major selling point. I could go on, but what’s the point?

There is at least the suggestion of value in all of these services. A faxed resume could reach an HR person. The government jobs site may have a worthwhile resume-editing service. And Cash4Gold will probably send some amount of money in exchange for gold. I just don’t think this is enough reason to take the risk. Here’s one simple rule of thumb for judging any service aimed at those hit hard by the economy… if the website sucks, the company and its services probably do too. Is the company established? Is the company likely to make good on its promises? A professional website is a good indicator. And a little research can lead to answers too. There’s no need to get suckered while trying to get by, especially now.

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4 Comments

  1. Marge Geneverra wrote:

    Amen.

    There are always people looking to scam a buck from other misfortune. (look at all the “mortgage help” and “credit repair” scammers that have sprung up.

    The job search help and resume scammers are just the next wave.

    Anyone dumb or gullible enough to give money to a search site or resume help service deserves to lose the money (any probably is unemployed for a reason!)

    P.S. Send me $25 and I’ll tell you who the scammers are.

    Saturday, March 21, 2009 at 2:18 pm | Permalink
  2. InTheHand wrote:

    That commercial is so awesome that I almost want to mail them some valuables.

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 4:14 pm | Permalink
  3. We have been writing resumes and providing career counseling for over 30 years. Our resumes and articles have been published in books, magazines, and on websites. We have appeared on television and hosted two radio shows. This company is not a sham!! We genuinely want to help you!! We’ve walked in your shoes!

    Sunday, April 5, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Permalink
  4. Many of us in the resume writing, counseling, and recruiting fields are genuinely effective in assisting the job hunters for a fee. We have bills, too. My company, Appelbaum’s Resume Professionals, Inc., is one of them. We have been in business for almost 35 years, and our testimonials appear on our website.

    Friday, January 8, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

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  4. […] Jobless and Less added an interesting post today on Will help the unemployed for moneyHere’s a small readingCan’t touch this, nor do you want to. It never ceases to amaze me just how many people want my money. There’s not that much of it, even when including the change jar, the Altoids tin for quarters and whatever the cats collect with their miniature coffee cups (and “will ignore you for food” signs) down by the subway tracks. The number of companies with hands outstretched has only increased in unemployment. Didn’t they get the memo? Didn’t they read the billboards? Didn’t they see the handiwork […]

  5. […] Norm placed an observative post today on Will help the unemployed for money | Jobless and LessHere’s a quick excerptThe government jobs site may have a worthwhile resume-editing service. And Cash4Gold will probably send some amount of money in exchange for gold. I just don’t think this is enough reason to take the risk. Here’s one simple rule of … […]