I had been out of work for over a month, laid off by a company in Phoenix, and decided to move to the North County San Diego area to be closer to family. I had posted my resume on a few of the major sites (Monster, HotJobs). I received an email from the V.P. at the San Diego Haldane office on Rio San Diego Drive. I was told that I qualified for a free career assessment, and that she felt with my qualifications they could help me get into the career of my choice.
My first meeting consisted of a sales presentation geared to showing me how the largest percentage of jobs were in a 'hidden market' that I would not normally have access to. Great emphasis was placed on Haldane's vast contact network, and their proprietory website that employers access and request to interview BHA clients. I agreed that I had no network in San Diego, and that I was using the traditional newspaper and Internet job searching - which I was told only held a fraction of the available positions. I was also told that Haldane would re-do my resume to an achievement-based format that would draw employer's attention.
In the first meeting, when I asked cost, I was quoted between $2,500 and $4,700. I balked at that amount (and I was thinking $2,500) because I was living on savings until I found a job. The V.P., Christine Fischer, assured me that "We will get a sign on bonus from your new employer that will reimburse most if not all your money". Christine seemed so confident that Haldane was just what I needed and that within 6-8 weeks I'd probably be looking at a couple of job offers. She explained that Haldane was employed by me, not the employers, which is why they are paid by clients - their 'loyalty' is to the client.
When I came back in two days for the second meeting, I was told the price was $4,700. I reminded her she said $2,500 to $4,700, to which she replied "Oh, I didn't think I gave you that low a figure". Anyhow I was told that I'd get a 10% discount if paid in full. Again, she boasted about the sign on bonus that "We will get you". She said that since they can't be paid by the employer, that they will have the check made out to me from the employer and deliver to me. I also mentioned that since I have been out of work, that I may need some assistance with a job, to which Christine told me "We will get you a bridge job to tide you over". I assumed they would go to their horde of Haldane contacts for a job, and did not question her since she seemed, again, so confident. With that I signed up and put the $4,230 on my credit card. I hoped I would have a job before the bill came and that wonderful "sign on bonus" to pay the bill.
I met with my career counselor 10 times from July 5th to August 9th - 7 of those visits was concentrated on developing my new resume. The last three visits were on preparing and doing a mock interview which was videotaped.
The resume I was given was very wordy, large paragraphs with run-on sentences. It required reading - not skimming. I used it to post to websites and was told by at least four recruiters to re-format to a chronological style with bullet point achievements. I was told that employers want a resume that they can quickly scan and get the information they need - not read in detail. I ended up re-writing my own resume, much like the resume that I came in with to Haldane.
To look at each issue I have with Bernard Haldane Associates, I will give you what I was told, and what was reality:
* I was assured that "We will get you a sign on bonus".
Reality: You negotiate everything. A sign on bonus is not only not a guarantee, it's a rarity. And if you go through a recruiter, forgetaboudit!
* I was told "We will get you a bridge job".
Reality: When I asked my career counselor, after 4 weeks of no work and not even going out on interviews because I wasn't through Phase I, about their promised help she gave me a photocopied list of the Largest Temporary Agencies taken from the Business Journal. I complained to her that considering what I paid, I expected more. She told me that they were not a placement agency.
* I was told that the Internet and newspaper held a fraction of the available jobs, and that I needed their contacts.
Reality: When I finished Phase I, with my wordy resume, I was instructed to post to 20-30 websites a week and apply/respond to 30-40 jobs a week from either newspaper or Internet. I posted to over 100 websites and applied to over 80 jobs. You are told to respond if you qualify by at least 75%.
* Their Professional Services brochure says that "we help you establish appropriate level contacts to assure sufficient interviews for your job change and career advancement".
Reality: I was told to provide Haldane with a list of 20 companies at which I wanted to work and they would get me contact names. I had to give them the name, address and phone number. Since I wanted to work in medical/pharmaceutical sales in the San Diego area, I assumed at the very least I'd get a Regional Director's name. After a week I received the list with 'contact names'....which were the Corporate V.P. of Sales/Marketing, or no contact in six out of the 20 companies. I could have called and got the same information!
After paying $4,230 dollars - I did all the work, was told to contact temporary agencies if I needed a bridge job, had to re-write their useless resume, was informed that it was highly unlikely to get a sign-on bonus, and heard nothing from their 'huge Haldane contact database'. When I asked how many times my resume had been viewed by employers through their website, I was told they have no way to track that information.
I complained numerous times to my career counselor and only received a sympathetic smile. She, afterall, is a Haldane employee and must follow the "Haldane Method".
I was angry and embarassed that I had been taken advantage of. Their contract is set up in such a way that 75% of the money paid, or $3,172.50 is spent in Phase I, which is developing a useless resume. So they get you the most right up front.
I have mailed a letter of complaint on 9/24/2001 with their V.P. of Client Services and the BBB of San Diego demanding a full refund based on misrepresentation, questionable selling practices, implied and veiled promises.
:::::::::::::::::::Click here to read how others say they have been victimized by Bernard Haldane Associates. Could they all be lying?