Last week I got a phone call – not an email – from someone here in Seattle. She left a message: “I’m looking for help with a resume and interview tips.” She left a home and work number. I called back the next day.
The soft-spoken voice belonged to a woman I’ll call Emily. Emily told me, “It’s not for me. My daughter needs help and I thought I’d gift her with some professional help.”
“Great,” I said. “Tell me more.”
It turned out Emily’s daughter “Peggy” was not fresh out of school. She had a series of jobs related to customer service in one of those industries like finance or banking.
Peggy wasn’t sure what she wanted. Maybe human resources. Meanwhile she was getting a few interviews but no jobs.
“I’d have to talk to your daughter,” I said. “But it sounds as though she’s got something in her resume that’s attracting the wrong kind of interviews. Maybe she’s not handling interviews well.”
“What would you charge for an hour?”
When I told her my rate, there was a pause on the other end of the line. Based on her questions, I suspected she was thinking she’d pay $35-50 an hour. “If money is the issue,” I suggested, “she shouldn’t find a private coach like me. She needs to see her college placement office.”
Then Emily asked me questions that probably seemed reasonable to her or to anyone not familiar with career coaching.
Q. “Would she get a package of materials she could use immediately?”
A. No. Many people who are unfamiliar with the career world assume someone can polish up their resume, write a standard cover letter and …presto! Instant job search. Just add water and stir.
In practice what people need on a job search isn’t a standard set of materials. You need to understand the principles of resume writing so you can modify your resume for different positions. You may want to make corrections as you go along because you may get feedback from your network members. (I would be leery of taking advice from prospective employers. If they don’t like your resume, you just might not be on the same wavelength.)
Q. Shouldn’t you meet in person?
A. Why? I’ve worked with clients from all over the world. If you want to work on your wardrobe or nonverbal communication, we might do well to meet in person (although these days you could make a video). The glory of the Internet is that you can work with the coach who’s best for you. So you might have a long distance coach for resume writing and, if you need wardrobe help, hire an image consultant in your city or state.
Q. Do you have references?
A. You bet. I also have testimonials. But if you’re going to hire me for a single hour, you can go to my website and listen to some of my audio recordings. You can invest a few bucks in one of my Reports.
Q. It’s just that you never know who will be helpful or who won’t.
A. That’s true. I’ve been disappointed by people who had glowing references, testimonials a mile long and inspiring websites. I’ve been surprised by people I hired impulsively or after hearing just one call. I cannot guarantee results. A lot depends on how hard a client works, how much time they devote to the job search and how willingly they will leave their comfort zone.
But I could see two sides of the same coin.
On the one hand, Emily’s questions made sense, from her perspective. She wasn’t familiar with the career coaching world. She wasn’t familiar with the job search and career change processes. She may shop around and hire the most affordable coach. She may hire a resume writer from Craigslist. She probably doesn’t realize that the consultant’s energy and time for a single hour is much higher than energy for an hour in a multi-hour program.
She’s hardly alone. Once an executive refused to hire me because, he said, “You can’t put me in front of hiring employers.” I explained, as politely as possible, that only a licensed recruiter could do this. Recruiters are not career coaches. They are sales people. They work for the employer. I once heard of a coach who doubled as a recruiter but that seems to be a conflict of interest on several levels.
On the other hand, Emily seems highly risk-averse. I understand that she might be financially strapped. But I also understand that if you never take risks, you never make progress. Emily can take responsible risks. She can visit my site, buy an ebook or two and see if I’m the best choice for her daughter. She can compare fees of other private consultants; she can even google “fees for career coaches” and find articles saying the going rate is $75-$500 an hour. She can even recognize what she’d pay for a housekeeper or dog walker in Seattle and appreciate that she would pay more for a career consultant.
But I can just imagine a journalist like Barbara Ehrenreich, whose most recent book is Bright-Sided, ranting about people like me in print. “All that money for just one hour! And you don’t even get a stack of printed materials!”
As a business person, I’d rather say, “If I invest an amount that’s less than 1/5 of what I’d make the first week in a job, and I find a job even one week faster, my investment will be repaid many times over.” Funny how people with that mindset seem to have less trouble finding jobs and moving up the ladder once they get them.
Learn more at http://www.MidlifeCareerChoice.com
This post may be controversial! What do you think?