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PayScale’s VIP Blog Roundup: How to Spot a Snake Oil Salesman

Topics: Career Advice
Devil in a business suit
Image Credit: Guingm/Getty Images

Even if you’re not particularly entrepreneurial and have no intention of striking out on your own, you’re probably looking to improve yourself professionally. Continuous learning is a base requirement for maintaining your career in the 21st century. No wonder self-help, including the kind focused on business success, is such a huge industry.

Of course, the trouble is that not all of these career coaches and professional gurus are legit — and the ones that are sometimes sound an awful lot like the ones who aren’t. How to tell the difference? In this week’s roundup, we look at expert tips on how to recognize programs that are more style than substance, plus a fun way to be happier and tips on how to get your resume in front of a hiring manager.

Neil Patrick at 40pluscareerguru: Snake Oil, Decoded

We’ve all seen the offers: sign up for this program, and learn how to get rich/climb the corporate ladder/start your own business/take over the world. The real scams are easier to spot. The trouble is, not every useless program is a scam. Some are just, well, not much use.

“Many contain good advice – once you get through all the padding. And there’s A LOT of padding,” Patrick writes. “…They all use similar devices and once you know what they are, you are much better equipped to avoid being duped.”

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Patrick’s signs of coaching programs that are too good to be true include free offers, rags-to-riches stories, and money-back guarantees, among others.

Cari Romm at The Science of Us: To Be Happier, Do One Creative Thing Every Day

“We all have different ways of unwinding after a long day at the office,” writes Romm. “Some people make a beeline for the couch to start a Netflix binge; some people work out; some people switch on the creative side of their brains, engaging in something crafty or logging time in the kitchen.

“All have their benefits, but things in that last category may be an especially worthy way to spend your off-the-clock hours.”

Romm cites recent research that shows that even the least labor-intensive creative pursuits — doodling, for example — can make people happier. More details, at her post.

Susan P. Joyce at Work Coach Café: 5 Ways to Connect With Hiring Managers

“Bringing yourself to the attention of hiring managers, who have the ability to hire you, is a very good way to connect with a job,” Joyce writes. “With social media and the Internet, we have excellent sources of information and methods to connect with those hiring managers when we approach the project methodically.”

But there’s a catch: the best way to bring your CV to a hiring manager’s attention is to have it handed to them by someone who already works at the company. Joyce’s tips will help you find that all-important contact that can up your chances of getting the hiring manager’s attention.

Tell Us What You Think

What’s the best career advice you’ve read this week? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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