The career service industry covers a lot of ground from career coaching in various areas to writing career documents (i.e., resumes, cover letters, etc.), to positioning your clients in the right light on social media via LinkedIn profiles and online networking.
Social media plays a huge role in how people communicate nowadays. So when it comes to job searching, you, as a career professional, can serve as a key resource for people seeking help and guidance when it comes to presenting themselves in the best possible light both online and in person.
Your ultimate goal is to help your clients attract attention of potential employers while at the same time build their personal brand, making the most of their job search and networking efforts. It’s my hope that you are not making these mistakes. But if you are, let’s fix them.
#1 Mistake: Giving Away Too Much for Free
I learned this lesson the hard way early on. I’d give away free resume critiques to the point that it took the bulk of workday. Not only that, I critiqued it to the point where I told them everything that was wrong with it and how to fix it in writing via email! So where did that leave me? No sale. They had no further need of me because I told them what was wrong and how to fix it. Big mistake.
How to Fix:
If providing free resume reviews, consider providing your review or critique verbally and limiting the call time. Keep your call around 15 mins. Have them email a Word or PDF copy of their resume and schedule a time to speak with you to provide the actual critique.
If you have an online calendar, give them the link to schedule the call with you. If you don’t, give them 3 days/times you’re available and have them commit to one. (If you can make one of the time options during the lunch hour in their time zone, this might help with schedule conflicts too.) If they’re serious about getting your feedback and potentially working with you, they’ll find a way to make time for the call.
If providing free career coaching consults, have a way potential clients can schedule a call with you first. Once a date/time is scheduled and prior to their consult, send an email asking them what they hope take away from your time together. Asking them this question will help make the most of your time together, keeping your conversation focused and allowing them to get their question(s) answered while at the same time allowing you time to prepare for the conversation and revealing how you can best serve them and help them move forward.
#2 Mistake: Taking on Any Client Project
You’re in business to serve a purpose and do what you enjoy most and that is helping job seekers achieve career success. However, to earn an income you have to attract and retain paying clients. Taking on the wrong clients comes at a cost in more ways than one.
You open the door to unnecessary stress, draining clients, burnout, and resentment. Do a self-assessment and determine who your ideal client is and do your best to attract and cater to the needs of your ideal client and target market.
How to Fix:
Know who your “ideal” client is and get on their radar. You didn’t go into business to settle. You went into business because you enjoy helping people achieve career success and who better to serve but the clients you enjoy working with most and who leave you with the sense of appreciation for the help, guidance, and support you provided them.
Mistake #3: Negotiating Your Fees
For fear of losing a sale, the thought of negotiating your fees crosses your mind. Don’t do it—stand firm on your fees. To give in, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. How? You start to second guess yourself and it opens the door for that client to ask more of you and your time in hopes they can get you to give in there too.
If they persist asking for a discount, kindly tell them your fees are firm for the service/product they’re inquiring about, but you’re happy to discuss other ways they can work with you that’s more in line with what they’re able to invest to work with you.
How to Fix:
Get clear about what you bring to the table and how clients will see results from your work together. Then, put it on paper. Based on what you’ve written, reflect and determine how much time you put into each client project, the kind of support and guidance you provide to help them achieve their objective, and the value your experience and industry expertise has to offer them and set your fees.
Now posting fees on your website is totally a personal preference. Some coaches and writers post their fees to weed out “tire kickers,” some only post their starting fees to let potential clients know what the minimum investment will be for particular services, while others don’t post any fees because they just prefer not to. Again, it’s a personal preference—there is no right or wrong answer.
“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” —James Joyce