Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Q&A: Help, I'm Spending Too Much Time on the Information-Gathering Process for Client Resumes

This is the latest in a series of Q&A posts. Every day, I get questions from resume writers -- and I share my answers publicly with you!


I’m finding that I’m spending way too much time on the interview process (I sort of knew that already), and I’d like to figure out a way to streamline that. Do you have any good resources for the client interview process?
 
What I’m doing is creating and emailing them a customized word document (from a template I’ve created) with questions specific to their career, taken from their resume (to add detail to good bullet points), and job posts that they send me (I require that they send at least one – I create questions to fill in missing information on their resume which the job post specifically calls for), questions lifted from Resume Writer’s Secret Room, as well as information about their technical proficiencies, leadership skills, employment gaps, etc. etc.
 
The customized interview definitely works very well in terms of getting the info for an exceptionally good resume, and clients have repeatedly told me that the interview has made a significant difference in their job interview preparation. It’s an awesome service for my clients. However, it takes me up to 2 hours to prepare the interview, and some clients come back to me wanting to deliver their responses via phone or in person, which can take up to an additional 2 hours for complex projects. Four hours spent on the interview alone is NOT a profitable process!
 
I’d like to cut back on the amount of time I spend on this process, but I don’t want to lose the value of what I’m providing. I put my clients through what more than a few have called a “grueling” resume development interview, and they come back and thank me for it and refer their friends.
 
I’m constantly tweaking my interview template document, removing standard questions that don’t work or adding standard questions which can streamline the customization process. When I customize the document for a client project, I delete the questions or sections that don’t apply and add questions specific to their resume/career. That’s helped a little, but not enough.
Here's my response!


I have a couple of resources and suggestions to offer.

The first is already included in your Bronze BeAResumeWriter.com membership. 
Log into your account and go to the Expert Interviews Series page 2, teleseminar #9:
(non-members can buy the recording and transcript for just $5)

You'll learn how getting better at the pre-writing process will help you save time on the resumes you write.

It's also about collecting the RIGHT information.

You can also purchase my teleseminar that I did for the NRWA last year:

This one specifically addresses the information-gathering process.

A related issue that I see is that you don't feel like the time you're spending is "valuable" (you said "profitable") -- which usually suggests that you're not charging enough!

(I looked at your website and see that your "average" resume is around $409 for a resume/cover letter. You're below the industry average of ~$500, so there is room to grow there.)

One way to direct clients to do things YOUR WAY is to give them the option, but CHARGE MORE for the way you LEAST prefer.

For example, if they provide information via custom questionnaire (which is the strategy I use with clients, and I do it just like you do!), the cost is "x."

If they don't want to do a form and they want me to interview them to collect the data, the cost is "x-plus" -- with the "plus" being the value you place on your time (your billable hour rate x the number of hours to conduct the phone interview -- i.e, x1 or x1.5, etc.).

You can use this worksheet to calculate your hourly rate:

Or, alternatively, refer out clients who want to do a phone consultation (partner with a colleague who prefers to work that way, and negotiate a referral agreement for a 15% referral fee).

So... two possible ways for you to go:
1) Do the same thing, but charge more (and I love the feedback from clients that your process helps get them interview-ready too -- I'd add testimonials to that effect on the website, and make that a key BENEFIT of working with you! ... and a justification for why you charge more than the $99 resume writer)

OR

2) Use the principles in the teleseminars above to streamline your information-gathering process so that you're only collecting the information you need (believe me, I'm an information junkie! But I sometimes find myself collecting information I won't need/use, which takes time!!)


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