Headhunter Review: Parabolic USA/Carrer/LLC (i.e. Career Coach Service)

TL:DR: Is Parabolic (USA/Carreer/Staffing/Job) a scam? No. Are they a recruitment firm? Technically yes but the job ads you are seeing aren't actual opportunities, they "are indicative of the type of role you can achieve through our career coaching" so the job listings are really advertisements for their service, not actual open opportunities. Is there coaching worthwhile? While there is some value to they're offering IMO the core packages are insanely overpriced ($5k-$9k) with far cheaper equally/potentially more effective solutions available. Candidates should be aware that their key sales pitch, a "job guarantee or all your money back", is not fact not that whatsoever with multiple IMO highly questionable twisting's of fact being dug up across the platform during my DD (details below) and I suggest you do your own prior to an engagement.

Recently returned to the job pool and came across many above market comp IB/PE/Corp Dev job ads from Parabolic (USA/Career/Job/Staffing/etc) but saw flags in the messages received after submission. Saw others were asking questions on WSO so did my own DD. I prefer lurking to posting, but learned about a planned expansion of the product line focusing on college students (which as Shiah's model has shown tends to draw in those who lack the career centers and/or networks to advice/assist with diligence) and felt sharing my findings/critical feedback on the current suite might be a helpful example of what to look out for and ask about prior to signing up for any service making large promises:

  1. What is Parabolic: Sorta depends on who you ask. The parabolicusa website says a tech enabled AI employing staffing agency for employers, the parabaoliccareer website says a tech enabled AI employing career coaching platform for candidates, the parabolicjob website says a paid job board host, job postings on third party platforms say a coaching service that also has real mandates, and the BBB says they are a business that went out of business (lol). Jokes aside – from what I found in all matters you will likely be coming across them they are a career coaching service, not a recruiter.
  2. Are They Real: Short answer yes, you will receive the service you pay for. How effective they are is another question I will get back to later, but wasn't able to verify much here. All the posts supporting their platform on WSO are from the same few clearly company accounts shilling bs about how this service got them from back office to BB. Similarly, I do not have much if any confidence in the validity of the claims made on their website regarding placement. Take the testimonials for instance crediting Parabolic with placing candidates at some solid firms (BCG, JPM, & MS), unless Parabolic has a time machine they're fake. Anyone bored enough to track down the LinkedIn's of the success story providers (reverse image search the photos/search the first name + hiring firm on LinkedIn) will see that the candidates either were already employed full time or had offers in hand a year or more before Parabolic was founded (which was in 2020 according to the CEO's LinkedIn, BBB filings, and their own website). Using the JPM candidate as an example, he interned in the hiring group in 2018 and started full time in 2019. If "Parabolic really helped me take control of my future and secure the job I wanted for the beginning of my career..." that coaching would have needed to take in early 2017. Not only did Parabolic not exist, but the CEO was still in college, so makes no sense. Same story for the one other candidate I cared to check.
  3. Current Service Offering: I'm going to assume their convoluted internal structuring is due to them being young and what seems to be a recent re-org and is not an attempt to misrepresent themselves/trick job seekers. After looking into their structure extensively and clarifying what I could during my two consultations, they are broken out as below. Note that certain items claimed on the website were not consistent with what appears to be the case in practice.
    1. Parabolic USA/Staffing: Described as the parent entity by the rep but per the website this is entity providing staffing solution to employers. The website indicates they accept staffing mandates and provide consulting services, but I was unable to verify what if any active mandates they have. Note that while the website says Parabolic USA helps with Parabolic Careers, I clarified with the rep that this is not. Utilizing their network is the currently employed practice of placing candidates. Job postings on recruitment websites represent fictitious roles and salaries of positions they claim you might be able to achieve after their career coaching rather than actual opportunities mandated or otherwise available to clients of any product line. It wasn't 100% clear, but based on my understanding mandates of Parablic USA/Staffing feed the Parabolic Job board and are not the top quality mandates for roles you likely are looking for.
    2. Parabolic Job: Standalone paid job board that is generally also bundled in with the Career packages. Rep guided me heavily away from considering this without a career package, explaining the jobs listed here were intended for different candidates or those with more immediate employment needs (salary ranges found here more like $50k-$70k). Not necessarily bad, some people need jobs immediately or that matches their expectations, but just to add some color on what is being offered as the website makes it sound like they have some amazing opportunities here.
    3. Parabolic Career: Primary product focus consisting of 3-tiered prepacked career coaching options, 1 customizable package (same contents as tiered but you can customize the offering like modifying total # of 1-1 sessions for example), and a a-la-cart service offering for one off items such as a resume revues. For ease of comparison and since its what the rep wanted to focus on almost exclusively I will focusing on the tiered offerings (Premium Career, Standard Career, and Essential Career unless otherwise noted). All packages come with 1-1 coaching provided by a third party industry leading contractor (24 sessions for premium, 18 for standard and 12 for essential), job application submissions (500, 300, and 100), access to parabolic's interview question database, software-enabled resume scoring and  a subsequent human review to make sure it passes human inspection, personal recruiting game plan, access to the Jobs board, and help finding jobs that sponsor visas if needed. The Premium package also includes post offer salary consultation and direct intros to Parabolic network contacts.
      1. Job Guarantee: Buckle your seatbelts. All packages come with a job guarantee, per the package detail main page, Parabolic will refund package clients if they do not receive full time employment offers within the stated timeframe (12 months for Essentials and Standard, 6 months for Premium) which "gives our clients an opportunity to invest in their careers without any financial risk" (what a classic). The ToS found at the bottom of the page further specify candidates are eligible for a "full refund" per the guarantee. It took me a solid portion of both calls to get some level of clarity on how the policy really works. THE FULL REFUND IS NOT TOTAL PRICE YOU PAID for your package after 12 months go by, but rather the full price MINUS THE VALUE OF SERVICES USED. Its unclear if includes deductions of refundable value for digital services (access to DB's resume review, etc) but the rep did specify the cost of coaching sessions used and I understand also the guarantee itself were not reimbursable. Using the a-la-carte pricing range of $150-$350 per 1-1 session and $1.5k-$3k for the guarantee, using the Premium Bundle as an example, if use all your sessions and not get a job after 6 months you'll be looking to get back less than 1/3rd of the price you paid for their service at most… in addition to being unemployed and 6-months closer to broke, that sounds like a financial to me. Don't bother trying to claim the coach was unhelpful to increase your return either, responsibility for the productiveness of the coaching session falls completely on the customer but you can switch as often as you want (a great solution for anyone who don't mind wasting x sessions connecting someone good).
        1. One other thing to note, job guarantees are nothing new and have a rather twisted history. Some of you may remember when online degree programs were all the rage a decade ago and remember hearing similar verbiage tacked on at the end of adds that students were guaranteed a job following completion of the program. You may also remember all the media coverage of how these guarantees were misrepresented and so often abused that you now rarely hear about them in the education space anymore. While I have no evidence or reason to think Parabolic has ill intent, a candidate should be aware that the guarantee is satisfied by an offer of employment, not an offer for viable (ie one you'd actually consider) employment or you accepting a position. Again I have no evidence of malicious intent, but given the firm feels confident enough to promise top paying jobs on LinkedIn, a potential customer should definitely make sure the final contract includes language on what sort of salary expectations/industries/etc would satisfy Parabolic's guarantee obligation. It would be a shame if you didn't get your money back because they got you an offer flipping burgers the day before their obligation came due.
  4. Pricing: IMO yes there is definitely some value to coaching and not every service is perfect, but generally that is reflected in pricing. I was optimistic here as I'd seen numerous comments by an account run by someone on Parabolic's team shill their service as a cheaper alternative to Shiah's class. A historical pricing found on f6s , indicates that they were previously charging job seeking clients $400 per month + 5% of their base salary + an additional 20% of base salary to the future employer, coming out to $30k per client customer, not surprising that model was unsustainable. The new approach while slightly better, is still shocking as it all but the Essentials are more expensive than WSMM (not endorsing them either but just for comparison) which I see are ridiculous for a company that has done so much to rebrand itself as AI and tech based and doesn't use in house coaching providers.
    1. Premium Package: $8,999.99
    2. Standard Package: $6,999.99
    3. Essentials Package: $4,999.99
      1. In fairness I should note you can get up to a total of $500 off based on packages purchased by people you refer and a rep may offer you of up to 10% I am told

If you cant afford these prices and are ok with taking on some pretty risky debt, payment plans are a provided option. Allow me to contextualize why I think the pricing is extreme using the Essentials package and commonly WSO/similar alternatives. In fairness I will again say that their service does save time and may or may not have additional benefits compared to doing the alternative depending on your unique situation, but generally what should you be valuing that time saving as worth when making your decision?:

  1. 12 Coaching Sessions: $1,688 for 12 1-1 sessions sold on WSO mentor page
  2. 100 Job Application Submissions: $100 if purchasing email list, $10 and 30 min of work w/ rocketreach subscription, free if you have a network
  3. Interview Prep/Case Study Guide: $497 complete WSO package (price easily reduced by $100 by getting bananas on WSO), free study guides and cases everywhere online
  4. Software ATS Based Resume Revue: Free from many job boards, literally identical software, ran mine through 3 separate job hosts this week to test and same feedback
  5. Human Based Resume/Cover Letter Revue: $100 WSO, free if you have a network
  6. Recruiting Game Plan: covered by WSO mentor but well tack on an extra $150 for an additional 1-1 session to budget time for formally putting one together
  7. Career Database: Just case studies so already included in WSO prep package
  8. Job Board: no value, you aren't looking for jobs that pay $50k-$75k and after paying 10% of your future salary for a career coach
  9. Work Sponsor Support: they claim they help you find firms give you sponsorship, how to go about applying, many posts on this forum free resources found on google but say another $100 of value added
  10. Job Guarantee – given how any offer apparently voids the guarantee, and how little of what you use would be refunded just go to your nearest fast food place and boom, same effect. Well say $0 which yes there may be some value but we were generous everywhere else and assumed a potential client actually needs and places values on each of the package subproducts
  • Total Price: $2,635 literally half what they're charging you

"But Theto, they're a concierge service and handle everything and have a guarantee so its actually a good deal for anyone looking for a IB/PE/Consulting gig. There are all these cross-thread copied and pasted posts on WSO talking about how Parabolic helped x person move from meh middle or back office job to top banking team."

No, IMO assuming all the inconsistent advertisements, misrepresented full refund guarantee, impossible testimonials, promises of jobs paying $50k above the actual average starting salary received by their customers are all just honest mistakes made by a quickly growing short-staffed startup (happens more often than you think), this markup strikes me as absurd, for a company focused on automizing the process (reducing overhead) and targeting a more vulnerable and less educated (in terms of process) customer base (foreign customers/those who want to break into IB/PE/Consulting post graduation). Let's also not forget even if they do happen to have an exceptional network there are only so many candidates they can place within a firm any given year at each firm, especially given you will still be competing against those coming from traditional paths for the same roles as well as a growing number of people from within their own coaching program. So no, IMO those considering this career coaching service should 1) conduct their own diligence prior to engagement (don't rely on mine or just assume every word advertised is exactly as you first understand it to be) & 2) understand the alternatives available and then make their own decision if the ROI is worth the investment in their unique cases which it may still be. If flags keep popping up take your time and keep digging until comfortable or say no, for example here it would have been good to ask if the $120k average salary is for all clients placed by Parabolic since inception or just since reorg, if there are material differences they can disclose in starting salary outcomes based on package purchased, % of package clients that accept FTEs, and if package clients everend up accepting offers from the job board/if any do if that starting is included in the average or not factored in as the job came from a different division (have seen this trick done before), just as examples...

Anyways – hope my takeaways help someone down the line. To Parabolic and its employees – the reps I spoke with were polite and know how to sell a product. I did not go into this looking to burn your firm and was genuinely interested initially. My opinions and observations, while sometimes critical, are the genuine takeaway I had after looking into the platform. I am unsettled by the inconsistencies and what I see as (maybe accidental) misrepresentations of key info across the platform which is concerning given current your client focus and especially concerning as you expand into the college student space. Per you're own ToS "The Client must represent themselves candidly when working with Parabolic. Integrity and honesty are critical to our business" and I would encourage you to take the inverse to heart as well. IMO I would feel significantly more comfortable recommending your service to a peer if your company 1) clearly defining the parameters, conditions, and nuances of its your main selling point, the job guarantee 2) spent time going through your various websites/marketing material/postings to ensure the story/pitch/product is consistent and accurate on all mediums and 3) passed some of the cost savings from your work on automating the recruiting process along to the consumer to make the option more cost competitive.


While I attempted to be thorough and objective, if there happen to be any material issues due to a mistake/something I didn't catch during my research let me know and I'll update/note it accordingly, tried to be fair and that remains the goal. 

Comments (3)

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  • Associate 2 in AM - Other

Also on the job market rn and I completely agree. I quick-applied to one of their postings without reading it fully (thinking they were a headhunter agency) and now I'm getting constantly spammed by emails (and even one unprompted phone call) from them, despite asking to be removed from their email list multiple times.

In retribution, I've taken to reporting every single Parabolic ad I see to LinkedIn for spam.They've got like 50+ of them up at this moment, all fake.


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