The key to hiring a solid resume writer, career coach, designer, or any other professional lies in quality and relevance. But everyone wants your money these days, and many are good at making you believe that they can deliver better results than they actually can. So how do you sift through the noise and identify a professional partner whom you can trust?
Writers want to write your website content. Designers want to build it. Marketing experts want to tell you how to monetize it. And life coaches wants to help you make it more representative of your inner passion.
A client brought something to my attention the other day that I thought was really great, and worth sharing. She received a free resume critique from a competitor company of mine, which is often common in my line of work, and later when we were working together, she shared the report with me.
There were some valid points around making a strong opening argument in your summary statement, talking about accomplishments, and avoiding a laundry list of responsibilities instead of details that provide context to the value you provided. But the other 95% of the 4-page document was text pulled straight out of a resume “how to” article – littered with useless facts that made no individualized reference to her particular resume.
This isn’t necessarily wrong – it’s simply a sales technique that a lot of resume writers, and other service providers, will use to provide a “sample” of the work they do, hoping to entice a prospect to convert to a paying customer. The only problem here is that it’s not focused on the customer when it’s essentially templated to speak to almost anyone. And that’s bordering on deception.
This brings up an interesting point in general for many of you who may be considering working with different types of professionals to market yourself, your business, or even in a personal capacity on an important project. With so many competing contractors out there eager to win your business, how you can you be sure that you’re hiring someone who 1) has legitimate experience, 2) has credibility in their field, and 3) will be worth your investment?
A few tips that you can apply not to just resume writing, but to any kind of contractor or service partner:
(Try to) Start a Conversation
I get plenty of people critiquing my SEO, asking me to guest post, or asking to advertise on my site (which I never do), and if they don’t address me by my name in the email, I don’t respond. My name is plastered all over my website and every social media profile out there – if you can’t take 10 seconds to do your research and learn a little bit about me, you’re obviously not interested in having a conversation with me – you’re only interested in my money/time/service/advice.
The same applies when you’re looking to hire a service professional. If they’re only willing to talk you via contact form or email, this says a lot around how much they value the interpersonal client relationship. It’s not reasonable to expect them to dedicate an hour on the phone to providing you an opinion or free advice. But your money is valuable, and a true professional should be willing to answer your questions and make you feel at ease about the process, and your investment.
Gauge Their Generosity
Be wary of people who give too much away for free, who undercharge, or who are willing to immediately finagle and lower their prices – they are probably doing so because of either a lack of confidence, or a lack of experience. At the same time, a good professional who knows the value in what they do does’t worry about giving away a little bit of their product or service for free. They’re confident enough that their work will speak for itself, and if you’re the right customer for what they’re offering, that little bit will likely be enough to instill a positive experience and encourage you to invest.
Another client once told me that when he contacted a competitor of mine and asked her for samples, she literally yelled at him through the phone, demanding that her X years of HR experience didn’t warrant the need to back up her expertise with, well, examples of her expertise. So then he called me.
If you’re hiring a writer, designer, contractor, tattoo artist, or anyone else who could feasibly provide physical samples of their work, they should be willing to do so. If you’re considering someone who is service-oriented, such as a career coach or marketing consultant, they should at least be willing to provide you with client references, someone whom you can reach out to directly and inquire about their working relationship and results. Be wary of someone who doesn’t want, or allow, you to see the work they’ve done – if they don’t like it enough to share, you probably won’t either.
Be Ready to Learn
Not everyone has expectations that jibe with what I can provide them (such as needing a resume written with one day’s notice). But that’s okay, because why should they? As the service provider, it’s MY job to educate my clients on what I can reasonably provide, why I charge what I do, and what they should expect from our work together. A true professional will be willing to take the time to answer your questions, they will likely have a standard process that they can share with you, and they will be upfront (and ideally in writing) about the expectations on both sides. So ask.
One thing I’ve learned in business, and as a career advisor in general, is that really great partnerships are worth their weight in gold. It may take a little bit of research, conversation, and trial and error, and perhaps you may even need to budge on your expectations a bit – but a good professional will help you get on track with what to expect, and leave you feeling confident in the value of their work.