It wasn't that lot along that we first heard about the getting paid to interview business. Notchup, which got a blurb in this months Fast Company, on p.66, was one of those companies - they pay you to interview. It's premised on the idea that the best passive candidates (how I hate that term) need an incentive to get interviewed. Whatever your thoughts on the long-term success of the program, it sure beats something I just heard about - where a company demands a non-refundable application fee for a position.
Stop right there. Let me tell you something. Anyone requiring you to pay them for a job is someone you should run from. They aren't typical employers, and while there might be a few legitimate people doing it, chances are you're getting scammed. In fact, with the economy the way it is, there are several things you should look out for.
2) Beware career counselors who tell you they can help you find a job. They can't. Career counselors from your company's outplacement service and the state can be very helpful. They teach you the basics of jobhunting and direct you to resrouces Those who require payment for their services, well - don't expect to get much out of it. You're better off buying a book or DVD and following the advice. If you're the kind of person that needs career counseling because you can't do it on your own, then all the coaching in the world isn't going to help.
3) Headhunters don't work for you. Marketing aside, we really don't. It feels good to put people to work, but you don't pay our bills. When I'm on a search, I'll talk to at least a 100 people. 1 gets the job. If a headhunter is talking to you in depth, giving you career counseling, helping you out, passing on leads - they'll quickly be joining you in the unemployment line.
4) Sending out resumes is not good enough. If you are unemployed, your full time job is looking for a job. You should attend every networking function, every free class, read every magazine on your industry, practice interviewing daily, and be prepared for anything that comes your way.
I have never known any unemployed person to do this. I see people playing golf, digging stumps out of their yard, sleeping late, taking vacations, and watching a lot of television. Unless you're independently wealthy, it's going to come back and bite you in the ass. Do you really want to dip into your savings and credit cards? There are jobs, but they don't go to people mindlessly tracking the job boards and telling their family they had a good day because the job is perfect for them and you're sure you'll get a call.
5) Be careful taking advice from newspaper columnists. I started my blogging career writing about the horrible advice in newspaper columns. These people don't interview regularly, and their advice is almost always terrible - terrible as in it's worse to read it than following your instincts.
6) Don't give up hope: Two things drive us to make changes in life. Inspiration and Desperation. If you're really excited about your career, or terrified about payhing the bills, both emotions can be channeled into an effective job search. The one thing that can't be channeled is apathy.
I know it's tough right now. And it's going to get tougher. We're about to find out who the ants and graashoppers are. Just keep in mind that if it sounds too good to be true, or if it offends you (like paying to interview), then it's something you shouldn't do.