Job Seminars—How to Spot a Sales Scam

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It’s no secret that stable employment is essential to a stable life. A reliable paycheck affects your ability to pay bills, save for emergencies, stay out of debt, plan your kids’ schooling and save for retirement. The sum of these can equal credit strength or credit damage. With so much at stake, you’re probably willing to search anywhere for a decent job. You may have seen TV commercials or heard radio ads for local seminars promising “cutting-edge information” and “industry secrets.” Tread carefully when considering these opportunities. A sales scam will cost you money and prevent you from achieving your employment goals. Ask yourself:

  • Who is running the seminar? Is it your local chamber of commerce or a private business? Identifying the source is the first step to identifying a scam. Read the fine print before deciding to attend.
  • Is there a cost? An altruistic seminar is interested in reducing joblessness, not earning a profit. Ask if there’s a cost for admission and weigh your choices carefully.
  • Is there a sales pitch or product to buy? Many people don’t realize they’ve walked into a sales pitch until it’s too late. Whether it’s classes, a book or recorded “job kit,” don’t allow a salesman to swindle your cash.

If you’ve discovered a scam, don’t give up. There are several ways to find reputable work without spending money. Begin by:

  • Narrowing your search. Unemployment is tough, but you won’t find a job without a targeted approach. Make a list of your qualifications and narrow them down to three. Search for these keywords with or another career search engine to help you identify opportunities in your area.
  • Improving your résumé. A sales-heavy job seminar promises “secrets you’ve never heard of” and “the key to résumé success.” While they may have some insight, there are plenty of ways to find free advice. Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab provides free information related to résumé content, design and presentation. The web is also full of infographics and templates to help sell your skills and secure a job. Why waste your money? Become a self-starter by taking advantage of free, do-it-yourself services.
  • Making connections. You’ve heard the expression, “Success is about who you know,” and for better or worse, it carries some truth. Secure a new job by relying on business connections. Create a list of past employers and professional friends who may be willing to help. Ask them to recommend you for openings within their company or with an affiliated business. If you’re new to the professional world, build relationships by attending chamber of commerce meetings, joining professional organizations or local Meetups. These groups will help you learn from others and gain personal access to job opportunities before they’re available to the public.

The bottom line: Don’t let unemployment panic lead to bigger problems. Allow cooler heads to prevail by using the correct strategy. The result will be a job you can rely on.