One of the most important things I want to impress on this community of professional career coaches and résumé writers – is you provide value to your clients. You are most likely trained and credentialed in career coaching and résumé writing, perhaps you completed the Certified Professional Coach (CPCC) program or hold one of the other credentials offered by PARW/CC; or you may have a degree in social work, human resources, business, or even something specific (nursing, engineering, accounting, law). You may have résumés published in books, been quoted by national or local news outlets, been interviewed for a media piece, radio, or TV, or, speak and deliver workshops to your client population. This makes you credible – and it is valuable to your clients.
You provide the tools, products, and services your clients need to navigate the employment market. You may write résumés, LinkedIn profiles, conduct employment research, provide interview preparation training and coaching, prepare career management plans, and guide your clients via the career management campaign.
No matter the client population – they are all seeking new employment; perhaps a first job after university; a
promotion within a company or laterally at a different company with more opportunities; or a step up into a management or executive position. Perhaps they are seeking a new career path or an entrepreneurial activity/ business. Perhaps they are returning to work after taking time off to be a stay-at-home-mom, or to care for elderly parents. Perhaps they are making the transition from the military to corporate (these people may have never owned a résumé or engaged in an interview). But, what all of these potential clients have in common, is they are all seeking new employment at some stage / level.
When a job seeker is laid off, fired, or making a job shift, it often causes anxiety and stress. As a career coach, you will also provide the confidence and positivity that your clients need to move forward.
You provide value in tangible (e.g., résumés, cover letters, ATS navigation, LI profiles, development of a career management plan, interview preparation, research, retirement planning, budgeting, and more) and intangible (e.g., building confidence, a shoulder to vent on, a note or phone call of encouragement, a cheerleader throughout) career management requirements.
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You can easily say to a client: If you make $1000 a month, and you are unemployed for six months, you lose $6000. If, you work with a career coach and regain employment in three months instead of six months, you only lost $3,000. But it is so much more than that. That lost $6000 is exponential over time – it includes lost 401K deposits and matching, lost medical benefits, and lost raises. It could be untold lost thousands of dollars over the life of a career.
The Discount Discussion
In normal times, do you offer a discount? Do you lower your fees when a client says:
• “I think your fees are way too high. Will you do the project for $300 less?”
• “Do you offer a military discount?”
• “Do you offer a discount for non-profits?” • “Do you offer discounts for colleges
or college students?”
• “Do you offer a group discount to write résumés
for 50 people at a homeless shelter?
Our budget is $500 total.”
• “Do you provide free services, because I live in
a country where the income is negligible?”
I get these types of requests all the time.
I have a referral process, whereby I refer potential clients to colleagues who charge less than me (they may be new to the industry, or are not comfortable charging more money yet), if the client wants a lower fee. Additionally, I refer potential clients to colleagues who specialize in certain functional areas, when my schedule is overwhelmed: IT, attorneys, executives. I find that having these referrals available is an excellent marketing opportunity. I took care of the client’s need in a polite and courteous way. And, many will refer others to me at a later date, for accommodating them.
I explain to potential clients that the fee is set – and it is based on the project scope – a résumé, LinkedIn Profile, interview coaching, research, xx number of phone calls, a DISC assessment, development of a career management plan, and coaching for salary negotiations when offers come through. Working together is an investment in their
professional development; I am not a recruiter and there are no guarantees of employment. There is an expectation of homework on the client’s part.
If they insist that the fee is too high, my intuition usually tells me that they are either not serious, or they are seeking a way to get very cheap or free services. They do not understand the value of working with a career coach. In my 30 years of owning my business, I have fully refunded four clients – and each time I accepted their work, I had that ‘gut feeling’ that it was a bad idea to work with that person. I would much rather send their money back, than get sued or be overly frustrated working with the client.
When my intuition says “red flag” – I know that I will be much better off not working with that client – as they will constantly ask me to discount the process. They nitpick the résumé, as “they know best,” and they do not follow through on homework. This is pretty typical. So, follow your intuition.
If you decide to offer / provide a discount during Covid-19, you may want to ensure that you provide clear guidance on how it will be done.
There is a big difference between saying:
“Covid-19 discount, get your résumé for $100 off.” (Without a specific end date, people can easily complain that they want a Covid-19 discount even in Summer or Fall 2020 and beyond).
“We are providing a Covid-19 discount of $100 off per résumé, through May 15/30 when the State/Government reopens (or select a date – maybe for three months or end of August).”
With this language – you can report to those seeking the discount past your end date that the discount is over.
However, by doing either, you may want to document the discounts in your ledger as a Covid-19 discount – for use with taxes and loss of income.
You can also break your package apart for the time being. If you normally provide a full package, you can offer an á la carte selection:
• Résumé: $XX
• LinkedIn Profile: $XX
• Interview Preparation: $XX
• Career Management Plan: $XX • Salary Negotiation: $XX
This will help job seekers better manage their budgets during this trying time.
Volunteering / Pro Bono / Bonus
Another way to give back to your clients and the community is to offer a “free bonus” during this time. Instead of offering a discount, you might consider offering a two- to five-page Tip Sheet or PDF booklet that you can provide to your clients for free during this challenging
time, to segment the services they purchase from you.
If you write your client’s résumé, then the Tip Sheet might provide tips on how to leverage the résumé and include an explanation of ATS. The document will also provide an opportunity for you to market your other services, including interview preparation, LinkedIn profile writing, and cover letters. Your Tip Sheet might ask: “What will do with your résumé?” Or, “Are you prepared to interview?”
If you are so inclined, you could offer a free cover letter to accompany the résumé; or a 30 minute-laser coaching session for interview preparation. (But, you will also want to record these sessions/freebees, as it adds up as time used, with no pay for you.)
Remember, if you provide a discount to one client – and he tells a friend or colleague – that person will call asking for the same break. (“Susan said you gave her a $100 discount on her résumé and you also wrote her cover letter for free...”)
You might consider providing pro bono services, at your discretion. You can provide a free webinar to specific populations; you can work with organizations like Wounded Warriors or Hire Heroes, your local homeless shelter, or others to work with and coach one individual – or train a group. It can be a one-time offering or ongoing based on your schedule.
You provide value. Educate your clients on this value – whether they purchase your services now or later. Stand strong in that value you provide your clients. This will be a challenging time for all of us, but our industry will explode in the coming months, as businesses reopen; we will be an industry sought after by job seekers. Polish your skills now – finish the CPCC training and obtain the test and credential, study the industry, listen to webinars and podcasts, read the Labor of Statistics website, communicate on the PARW/CC chat lists, update your LinkedIn profile, and / or seek a personal mentor.