If you’ve never considered career services before and are now seeking out a professional to assist with your job search or professional branding needs, you may be overwhelmed with finding the best service provider that fits your needs.
I get it! There are a lot of factors to consider ranging from: “How do I make sure I’m hiring someone who is qualified?” and “How do I find someone that understands my background?” to “How much do I pay?” and “How long will this take?”
This article was developed with these questions in mind and to ensure you have the best possible experience with a career services professional.
In this article, I will cover:
- The differences between career service professionals (and how to select the best type of professional for your needs)
- How to properly vet career services professionals
- Making sure you select a writer who fits your needs (in terms of process, pricing, timeline, etc.)
Difference Between Professionals
(You Can Ask: “What Type of Work or Clients Do You Specialize In?”)
Did you know that career services professionals have different specialty areas? These specialty areas could be specific to the types of clients they work with OR these specialty areas could be related to the types of services the individual provides.
Let’s get a bit more specific.
A career services professional could specialize in a particular category of client. For example, a federal resume writer typically only works with individuals currently employed by or targeting work with the federal government. Alternatively, there are also career services professionals that may specialize in writing medical CVs and others that specialize in working with sales professionals, C-Suite clients, etc.
On the other hand, the types of services offered can be different. Some of us may focus our services on writing effective job search content (such as your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter templates, etc.). Others may focus not on writing these job search tools, but providing coaching needed to be successful. And finally, there are others who get to the root of what your personality, goals, etc. are best suited to and pointing you in the right direction.
You can often gain insight into what a service provider specializes in by paying attention to their job title.
- “Writers” = Typically focused on the development of job search content.
- “Coaches” = Typically involved in working with you on an ongoing basis to make your job search successful.
- “Counselors” – Typically involved in deeper existential questioning around what you are best suited for and how you can move towards an ideal career area.
- Note: You may notice some professionals combine titles. I for example refer to myself as a Writer and Coach meaning that I assist in both the upfront writing of job search content, but also provide some of the coaching necessary for you to implement an effective job search.
Before ever seeking out services, thinking through what you truly need will be helpful in finding the right career services provider for you. Once you have pinpointed what you need, simply asking “what type of work or clients do you specialize in?” will help narrow down who lines up best with your needs.
Selecting a Qualified Career Services Professional
(You Can Ask: “Tell Me About Your Experience and Training…”)
The career services industry is largely unregulated, which means that there are unfortunately companies and individual service providers that are…shall we say less than qualified.
Just like when hiring any type of service provider, it is up to you as the customer to ensure that you’re doing your research to properly vet those with whom you choose to engage.
Within the career services industry, there are a number of ways that you can research and properly vet your service provider:
View Public Sites: Take a look at their website, Facebook, Instagram, and review sites (like Google, Yelp, etc.). Not every professional you talk to may be present on these sites, but the more active they are in the public eye and the more developed their presence is on these sites – the more established they likely are.
LinkedIn Review: LinkedIn is truly the premier professional networking site these days. Any verifiable professional is likely to recommend you be active on the site and should also “practice what they preach”. Take a look at their personal LinkedIn profile. Is it well thought out, written creatively, and fully complete? Do they have a connected and legitimate LinkedIn business page? How about their activity – are they regularly communicating with fellow professionals, publishing articles, contributing to relevant industry conversations? All these areas of activity are indicators of a qualified industry professional.
Check Credentials: An established and qualified career services professional will have industry-specific credentials. Some of the top credentials a resume writer can have for example include: NCRW (Nationally Certified Resume Writer), CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer), NCOPE (Nationally Certified Online Profile Expert), and others.
Feel free to check up on these credentials to ensure they are from legitimate issuing organizations and that the person does indeed have the certifications they claim!
Check Professional Involvement: Another indicator that the professional in question is legitimate is their level of involvement within the industry. Are they part of professional organizations, have they attended recent professional development conferences, have they led presentations on relevant topics, and more are all good questions to gauge their involvement.
The more involved an individual is with their industry peers, the more likely it is that they are abreast of current trends, held to peer standards, and knowledgeable on the industry as a whole.
Check Recommendations: Good work = happy customers. Any professional you choose to work with should already have verifiable testimonials prominently displayed on their website, LinkedIn, etc. or at the very least, be able to provide you with former client recommendations upon request.
To get a feel of a potential service providers qualifications, you can prompt them by asking “can you tell me about your experience and training?” This should elicit a response that recaps some of the points above.
Ensuring Overall “Fit”
(You Can Ask: “What Should I Expect Throughout Your Process?”)
Just like different career services professionals will have varying specialty areas and qualifications, you can also expect the providers you speak to will have different processes, timelines, and service terms. Although there is not a “right” and “wrong” when it comes to these factors, you do want to ensure that you are comfortable with how the project will proceed.
Below are a few different details to consider when hiring a career services professional and ensure they “fit” with what you need:
Process: Writers and coaches will have different services processes that work best for them and it is important that you are familiar with their processes not only to see if it will work for you, but also to ensure that their final products will yield strong results.
Here are a few things to consider when thinking of process:
- Research: What is their research and analysis process? How do they strategize for your project?
- Writing: What is their writing style? What will they base their writing on (research or what they feel is best)?
- Editing: What is their editing process? How can edits be requested? How long does the editing process take?
- Communications: When does the writer/coach and client communicate throughout the process? Is there a limit on how much we talk?
Pricing: Ahh pricing, the ever-present elephant in the room! Pricing for career services is highly dependent on the provider in question and their experience, credentials, training, etc. as well as your background, job targets, and level of need. It is not uncommon for pricing to vary greatly – I’ve had individuals tell me they’ve gotten quotes as low as $100 and as high as $3K+.
The phrase “you get what you pay for” is very much accurate in this situation and I would urge you to take into account a few factors when deciding how much you’re comfortable spending:
- How much time will be devoted to your project based on how much you’re paying?
- How customized will your services be?
- How important is it to you that your writer has deep expertise?
Timeline: Depending on company structure, client base, and other factors career services professionals will have different timelines to complete services. It is advisable to go into conversations with a target date in mind to have services completed so you can see if the provider can meet your needs.
It is very important to note that services are typically a lengthy (multi-week) process and many providers have wait lists so being proactive with your research is a great idea. If you need services on a tight turnaround it is possible you won’t be able to find a provider to fit your needs or will need to pay a premium for rush services.
Company Structure: There are few different types of company structure that you may run across when deciding to hire a career services professional. You could engage with a solo business owner (the vast majority of resume writers and career coaches are solo), a solo owner who subcontracts work out, or a scaled career services business.
There are positives and negatives associated with each business type so just be aware of who you’re working with and how their company structure will impact your project.
Who Will Complete Project Work: It is extremely important that you ask who will actually be completing work on your project (this often goes hand in hand with how the company is structured as mentioned above). If you decide to contract services with one individual, but someone else altogether is actually writing your resume or working with you throughout the duration of the project that may not be ideal.
This is especially important to note because there are a number of what we call “resume mills” in existence. Essentially, you engage a larger company that in turn subcontracts out your project for a fraction of the price and often to someone less qualified.
Service Terms: Virtually all service providers will have service terms in place (which is great – it is an indicator that they have a proven process!) and it is important that you understand them. By service terms I mean: Are you bound by a strict schedule? How many edits can I request? How will my final documents be delivered?
Most professionals will review the general terms with you during your initial communications and will also require that you sign a service agreement prior to beginning work. Be sure to ask questions about their service terms yourself as well as thoroughly review the service agreement to understand these terms. If you’re not sure of something, get more clarification!
A simple way to ensure you are comfortable with the writer you are engaging with and are aware of how they will handle your project is to ask “what should I expect throughout your process?”
There are many variables to consider when hiring a career services professional and hopefully the topics covered above will help you go into conversations with potential service providers with confidence and plenty of questions to help make your decision.
*About the Author:
Brittney Beck-Ripley, NCRW, NCOPE is a Senior Résumé and LinkedIn Profile Writer at Vocamotive with a focus on career development strategy for her clients. She is one of less than 60 Nationally Certified Résumé Writers (NCRW’s) in the country and holds an additional certification in LinkedIn profile writing (NCOPE). She has an education in strategic communications from Butler University, as well as considerable experience in writing, career development, and personal branding. Brittney is highly talented in assisting her clients achieve their professional goals and the materials she creates quickly result in interview opportunities. Her dedication to her craft and expert business writing abilities result in top-tier products.
Follow Brittney on LinkedIn at: www.linkedin.com/in/brittneyripleybeck/
Contact Brittney via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org