Have you recently responded to a job ad and during the interview were told that you needed to pay X amount to be considered? Have you been bombarded by offers to “fix” your resume for X amount with the promise of better chances of getting hired? Do you realize that, with few exceptions, what you are paying is exactly their business, and not to get you a job?
There are a lot of placement agencies out there that will not charge you, they charge their client companies for recruiting the talent they need. Companies needing certain skill sets often do their own recruitment or outsource their recruitment efforts to other specialized organizations. Those would not charge you for getting you in the door. So, why would you want to pay others to do just that? If they were serious, and needed to charge you, they would collect after placing you, not before. Why do you think many employers offer referral bonuses to employees who bring in needed talents? If they are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to employees just to refer you, why would you need to pay anyone for the same opportunity?
As to your resume, do not be too concerned. As long as your information is factual, your credentials verifiable, and your contact information clear, you should be able to get an interview if the organization sees that you meet their requirements. If an organization needs a software programmer and you meet the requirements, it should not matter whether you sent the resume on fancy silk paper or on a napkin. If they need you, they will hire you. Remember, organizations need qualified people to fulfill their obligations to their customers. Even in times of high unemployment, they need to pay more attention to candidates’ qualifications than to how beautiful their resumes look. True, a good presentation of your skills and experience will always impress well, specially to those high strung HR types who sometimes allow their biases to dominate judgement. Even then, do you really need to pay for a good resume? There are enough pre-designed formats for free either in your computer programs or in the Internet that you can use. If you think you still need help, there are non-for-profit organizations or even government agencies willing to help.
If you, like most job seekers, are so desperate to make ends meet, there is another trend out there that you may want to consider. An article by Brad Tuttle in the January 24 issue of TIME magazine illustrates an out of the box idea for job seekers: Offer a reward! Some people have placed ads in newspapers offering a reward to anyone who can help them get a job. That reward is paid after the hiring. Tuttle also offers information about websites that can help you with that type of approach. Again, if you need to pay, pay after getting hired, not before. Good luck!