Our experience is similar to many others. My boyfriend saw an advertisement for Bernard Haldane Associates in the paper and sent in his resume thinking they may be able to help him find a job in his field. They called him into an interview where they proceeded to give him the hard sell. They emphasized the hidden job market, all their industry contacts and so on. They said they were so committed to helping him that they wanted to meet his girlfriend to ensure that we were both informed and could make the decision together. In the meantime they did not mention their fees at all. I thought it was a little strange they wanted to meet me but it was important to my boyfriend so I went.
The office was located in downtown Ottawa, It was spacious and luxurious but little warning signals went off almost immediately. For one thing they kept us waiting for ten minutes to give us the impression that they were busy. But our appointment was first thing in the morning so it just seemed rude. As we walked through the office we noticed that despite the many smaller offices the place was practically empty. When we got to the senior associates office the first thing we noticed was that he had no computer. It seemed strange that any businessman but particularily one who is supposed to manage these hundreds of contacts did not have a computer.
As soon as we sat down he began the hard sell. In a nearly hour long very dull presentation he discussed the many services that Haldane offered such as resume presentation, interview preparation and access to industry contacts. It all sounded great but in retrospect no different then serivces offered by any community college. Still he was very persuasive. And they are an old company with offices around the world. I thought they must be successful to stay in business for over 50 years.
In all that time he had not mentioned the cost once. My boyfriend finally asked him point blank what the fees were and he talked about the diffenet phases and how the fees were distrubted (75% in phase 1, 10% in phase 2 and so forth). He also said they would be on retainer for us but he would not give us an actual number. He then left the office to give us time to think about it.
We decided that no matter what we would tell him we needed to think about it for a few days. But we wanted an actual number. We were also confused about what he meant by retainer. We knew what the term meant but weren't sure how it applied in this case. When the associate came back we asked what he meant by retainer. He said that it was something that law firms used which did not clarify the matter at all. When my boyfriend asked again how much this service would cost the associate's face tightened up and he said we could discuss that once we made a committment to move onto the next step.
We both realized that something was seriously wrong at that point. No reputable service would expect you to buy without telling you the cost. If you walked into a shoe store and asked a salesman how much a pair of shoes cost he wouldn't say that he was not going to tell you until you agreed to buy them. But that is what Bernard Haldane Associates wanted for what was obviously a much bigger cost. We said we needed a couple of days to think about it. He said that was fine but wanted to make my boyfriend a follow up appoinment. My boyfriend said he had to check his schedule and get back to him at which point the associate looked quite peeved but agreed and let us go.
After we left the office we decided to do some research on the internet to see if we could find examples of other people's experiences with Haldane. By this time we pretty much deicded we weren't going to work with then but we really wanted to know what they were charging since they wouldn't tell us. We quickly came across this site and were shocked to find so many stories of people getting ripped off not to mention the astronomical fees they were charging. How could any company in good conscience take $5000 from people who were unemployed?
My boyfriend and I were lucky. I have a good job and while he is looking for something in his area, he does have another job in another field so we weren't completely desperate and not so easily taken in. We were able to laugh off the whole experience. But it makes me angry to think that there are people who are really desperate for work and vulnerable who may be taken in by Bernard Haldane. Its disgusting that they would deceive people and take hugh amounts of money from people who really don't have much right now.
Anyone who is thinking of using their services be ware. They are very smooth. They give you the impression that it is a prestigious company and they are selective about who they take on as clients. That is untrue, everyone gets the same hardsell. They will try and impress you with their luxurious offices. They'll throw out a lot of numbers and briefly show you a long list of contacts they allegedly have. Do not be fooled. These contacts can be obtained anywhere with a little research . They will try and flatter you by asking to meet your significant other to make it seem they are really hands on. They will try to intimidate you by warning that you must act quickly because companies are hiring now but only for a short time. They'll try and guilt you by saying that if you were really interested in your career you would use their services.
No matter what tell them you need a few days to think about it. Once you are out of there you'll realize that it is a big hustle. Anything they offer could be found in a good career website or refernce book. I am happy grateful that we found this site before we had committed any money to Haldane. I hope our experience can help other people as well.