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Director, Certified Professional Career Coach Program diane@cpcc-careercoach.com

 

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Discount or Not Discount? That is the question.

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Value

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.

MAY 2020 | PAGE 14

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 o
ffer a discount for non-profits?” • “Do you offer discounts for colleges

or college students?”
• “Do you o
ffer 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.

 

During Covid-19

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).

And saying:

“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.

Summary

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.

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Top Two Job Search / Career Management Mistakes, according to Diane, anyway

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 2, 2020
Updated: Monday, March 30, 2020
There seems to be a trending pattern with job seekers and two mistakes that seem to trip them up over and over: Assumptions and Not Being Prepared.
I recently read an article on the Top 22 Mistakes you can make on a resume – wow – 22 mistakes on one resume. That was significant. Some items were basic like avoiding typographical and spelling errors, others were a bit old fashioned, like, only one-page resumes are accepted by recruiters. 
However, there seems to be underlying career management mistakes that permeate and upend the entire career management campaign.  
Assumptions
Recently, a potential client called me to inquire of my services. He was interested in a Senior Executive Service (SES) portfolio: 10 executive leadership stories (essays) on 10 pages, a five-page SES resume with the leadership stories integrated into the body of the resume, and a one-page Technical Qualification statement (essay). He said to me, “I am the acting director right now, and most of the leadership team knows me, so I am a shoe-in.” He said he wanted a good package completed, but, he knew that his colleagues and leadership would expedite his package. He said, “We can just quickly prepare a decent resume, it will be fine.”
Diane’s thoughts: “No, it will not be fine. This is competition. This is a first impression; this is the first gate in many gates in the employment process.”
Well, he is assuming that because people know him, he is going to get the job. He is assuming that because the leadership team knows him, he does not have to include much information on his resume, as they already know what he does and the programs he manages. He is assuming that because they know him, he does not have to put his best foot forward – he is assuming that a really strong first impression is not warranted.  They prepare his performance evaluations, so he is assuming that they already know about his major accomplishments. 
His assumptions could lose him the job, because he is forgetting some very important other factors:
  • His resume and leadership essays will be read and scored by a Human Resources (HR) office before it ever gets to the leadership team. If the HR office does not score his resume high enough / if they believe his resume package does not meet the minimum qualifications, his resume may never get forwarded to the next level. 
  • The HR office may be in a completely different location than the leadership / hiring panel, meaning, the HR specialists may not know who he is, or that he is in the acting role for the office / location for which he is applying. Since HR hires for varied functional positions (accounting, Information Technology, engineering, legal, and more) on a daily basis, they will not necessarily understand that he is currently fulfilling the acting leadership role for the position for which he is applying. 
  • Unless HR has been notified by the hiring panel to forward his resume for the interview process, there are myriad reasons why HR may not forward his resume – including, in some cases an overwhelming number of resumes that have to be reviewed. There are cases where HR improperly scores a resume and does not forward a resume to the hiring panel. In this case, an applicant has to request an audit of his resume, if he believes he is qualified and should have been selected for an interview.   
  • If his resume does get scored high enough by HR and is moved up to the hiring panel for the next level of consideration, sometimes that panel includes members who work in other offices / organizations to maintain partiality. Again, some of these members may not know the applicant.
So, this applicant made an assumption that may have upended his application at the outset. 
 
Not Being Prepared
Another client found her dream job posted on an online job board. The job positing closed in four days. 
She had not applied for a job in years, so she did not have an updated resume. Her last resume was post college – one page, dates listed down the left margin, name and contact information embedded in the header, and font at 8 point to cram all the data onto the page. The entries were short duties descriptions. Her most recent two positions in the previous five years were not on the resume.  
She asked me, “Can you just update my resume, so I can submit it before the deadline? I will stick to the one-page version, because that is what my professor told me to do when I graduated college. I interview great, so if I can just the resume into the system and get the interview, I will be fine. I just need you to add the duties from my most recent two positions to the resume.”
Well, she made assumptions and she was ill-prepared. She assumed that her old resume format would work fine five years later. She assumed that cramming more information onto her already full one-page resume would be acceptable.  
  • She did not prepare in advance with a new fresh resume. She did not properly research the job posting and target company; rather she just reacted to the opportunity to apply to her dream job. 
  • She did not research Applicant Tracking Systems or learn that her resume would most likely be reviewed by a computer scanner before it ever made it to the eyes of a human. 
  • She was bound to the one-page resume rule, not realizing that a computer would read the document for keywords, key terms and key phrases, before it was considered for format. 
  • She had not done her homework. The job posting was open for 30 days, and she was waiting until nearly the last day to apply, which means there could have been potentially hundreds of applicants in the cue line ahead of her. 
  • Her zip code was 2,000 miles away from the target job’s location. She did not read the requirements of the announcement that stated they were looking for candidates within a 50 mile radius. 
By being unprepared, she most likely lost out on her dream job opportunity. If she had prepared early in the process, her resume would have been updated and expanded to two pages. The resume would have included accomplishments rather than duties. 
She needed to pare down the older jobs on her resume from college that were non-relevant and focus on her more relevant post-college positions, with strong accomplishments, projects, and awards. 
She should have researched the company and the announcement earlier in the process, so she could explain that she was willing to relocate to the target location at her own expense. 
She could have connected with the company / organization via a LinkedIn group or connected with people from the company via LinkedIn. 
Since, she was unprepared, with such a short deadline, her resume ended up being prepared haphazardly by herself, over a weekend. Because there was inadequate time, she did not follow any career coaching guidance, and added her two jobs to the one-page resume by expanding the margins. Subsequently, she never heard back from the company concerning her dream job.
She called me a few months later, showed me her “updated” resume, and asked to secure my services to prepare a proper resume to apply for future dream positions.
Assumptions & Not Being Prepared
Well, making assumptions in career management, resume writing, and job search and not being well prepared, cause people to lose out on potential positions. 
By reversing assumptions to the positive: “I will assume that I need to develop the best possible resume, making a targeted first impression” will lead to a much stronger application.
By being prepared by performing research, having an up-to-date resume, and knowing the requirements for an application will position an applicant for a potentially positive outcome in job search and career management.  

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January 2020 Spotlight

Posted By Doug Phares, Thursday, March 26, 2020

Oftentimes people prepare for the New Year by deciding on and declaring New Year’s Resolutions.

New Year's resolutions are a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, and / or to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life, according to Wikipedia. Forty percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions.

A New Year’s Resolution is defined as a firm decision made on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day to do or refrain from doing something over the course of the coming year, according to Oxford dictionaries. Many people decide to lose weight, join a gym to get fit, start walking, swimming or biking every day, quit drinking alcohol, quit eating fast food, change a habit, and so forth. People’s Yew Year’s resolutions may include:

• Get in shape
• Become more active
• Start eating healthier food / or less food overall
• Start writing a journal / book
• Reduce stress
• Earn more money
• Save money
• Get out of debt
• Give up cigarettes or vaping
• Learn to cook
• Improve concentration and mental skills
• Watch less TV
• Learn to be happier with life
• Meet new people
• Spend more time with the people that matter
• Find a new career
• Take a class / get a degree / get a certification
• Learn confidence and take chances
• Learn to control emotions
• Face fears and insecurities
• Stop procrastinating

• Become more polite / kind
• Learn to let go of grudges and prevent moping & blaming
• Get over an ex / former relationship
• Get more quality sleep
• Read more
• Find a significant other
• Become tidier / more organized
• Declutter
• Start drinking in moderation or quit drinking altogether
• Learn a new language
• Volunteer
• Give to charity
• Pick up useful skills or fun hobbies
• Adopt a pet
• Travel
• See a doctor / dentist regularly
• Reinvent yourself
• Stop being late
• Learn how to be more self-reliant
• Turn your hobby into a career
• Start being more responsible
• Learn more about art, music, culture etc.
• Spend less time on social media / turn off the cell phone
• Learn how to defend yourself
• Become more romantic
• Start remembering important dates
• Become more social
• Other: A goal that is not listed here

New Year’s goals are usually extreme makeovers. They can be lofty or unattainable goals without an action plan to back up the goals. These goals are not typically written down or prioritized, rather, they are pronounced.


So, we might want to encourage our clients who have made lofty goals, to take the goals to pen and paper (or computer desktop) in bite size segments.


Rather than saying, “I am going to the gym in 2020,” write a goal that says, “I will attend a dance class for 30 minutes twice a week.”


Or rather than saying, “I am going to lose weight in 2020,” write a goal that says, “I will stop eating fast food and sugary sodas.” “Next, I will begin to walk 10 minutes three times a week.”

The small baby steps make reaching the goals more attainable.

Business Resolutions / Goals
For those of us in business, instead of saying, “I am going to make more money in 2020” consider taking this approach:

Review your services, products, and income (and losses from 2019). Readjust your business budget and ensure there is enough money in your savings account each month / quarter to pay quarterly taxes, if you are a business owner. Ask your accountant to determine your annual tax rate and save that amount each month to ensure taxes are covered.

Don’t forget to build your budget to include annual fees, e.g., business insurance, umbrella insurances, web site (godaddy.com type fees), hosting fees, Microsoft 365, and other.

Look at your marketing dollars; how and where they were spent; and how much was spent on each activity. Is paying for click-throughs or Facebook ads more profitable than attending conferences and hosting an exhibit booth? Or vice versa? What marketing activities produced the most revenue?

Chart the ups and down to determine if marketing dollars were spent judiciously or not – and make adjustments for 2020.

Make a list of all possible marketing activities, and determine viable expenditures, man-power, and time.

Determine your best / most profitable social media outlet; do your products and services gain more traction on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or other site? If you notice that one site provides more interest than others, and if you are short on time, think about investing your efforts into only one social media platform – and work it well.

If you introduced a new product or service – and it excelled, you might consider increasing the fee for that product or service. If hat product or service did not gain traction and cost you marketing dollars, you will need to decide of you want to continue for another year, or drop that product or service and marketing campaign; and rather, put the marketing dollars into the product or service that excelled.

Prepare a business action plan for 2020 and chart the changes from 2019 – and indicate completion dates for new activities, e.g., complete the CPCC program by June 30, 2020, to be able to use the new certification and logo on the website and LinkedIn profile; Commit to writing two blogs a week for LinkedIn and/or the website; Commit to attending four community networking events during the next half year; plan to exhibit at one industry conference in 2020. These types of activities elevate credibility and visibility.

Decide if you need to select and complete a new certification in 2020. Save the money and determine a schedule to complete the course.

If you completed a certification in career coaching or resume writing or attended a professional industry conference in 2019, you may consider increasing your prices. The value that you provide clients became elevated.

Business Building
Building a business and managing a business is work. As a professional career coach, I am very good at coaching job seekers. I am very good at writing professional resumes and telling my client’s stories. I am a skilled interviewer; and I prepare my clients for interviews. I write articles and books. I speak at conferences, and I train clients at government agencies, military bases, and companies across the nation, Puerto Rico, and in Europe, Japan, and Korea. However, I was not prepared to manage a business. I jumped into the deep end of the swimming pool without a written plan in the beginning.

After realizing that I needed to write a plan, write my goals, and reevaluate the
plan year after year, my business became solidified and grew


Happy New Year

Take the time needed to write your personal and business goals, on paper. Turn pronounced New Year’s Resolutions into practical, doable, action plans for 2020. Stick to a plan, readjust as needed, and decide and plan to excel as a business owner.

Look at the action plan in March, July, September, and November. Identify and remove or adjust those New Year’s Resolutions that are not viable, and move forward with attaining goals that are working and are viable. Take baby steps in the process.

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