Thursday, August 6, 2015

What Should Be In Your Client Contract?

Some resume writers don't use a client contract (or client agreement). But if you already have one -- or you're thinking you should have one -- check out these pointers for what should be included in your client contract.

Here's the things you should consider including in your client agreement:

Detailed Description of the Services You Will Provide
It's essential to very clearly describe the services that will be provided. The more detail you can put in this part of the contract, the fewer misunderstandings will occur. This is very important for resume writers in particular, since the majority of us charge by the project instead of hourly. Having a very clear definition of what is included in the services you're providing (including providing timeframes for client consultations, number of revisions, etc.) is critical. You don't want "scope creep" ruining your profit potential. ("I thought that customized cover letter was included." "Let's look at the agreement. No, a template cover letter is included. We can certainly customize it for specific positions; however, there will be a $40 charge per letter for that service. Would you like to order that?"

Responsibilities of the Service Provider
Spell out in great detail which dates youĂ­ll have the work completed by, and what your responsibilities are to the client in regard to getting the work done. How will it be submitted to the client? What constitutes finished work? Be very specific in this area. It will help protect you as well as help you feel done each day when you know what constitutes "finished."

Responsibilities of the Client
Spell out what the client must do so that you can do your job. For example, state that the client must get you the information you need by a certain date, and say how the client should contact you when they have questions. Be very specific and exact in this section so there is no mistake about what the client needs to do to ensure that you can do your work in a timely manner.

Important Due Dates
Restate the important due dates for both sides of the client/service provider equation. The reason you want to state this again is that it's an essential component in being able to work together cohesively without issues. These dates will ensure that it all happens without a lot of back and forth or problems. If the client returns the questionnaire to you after the due date, that will most likely cause a delay in the delivery of the resume draft. Make sure your agreement states that!

How Payment Will Be Processed
State how and when you will bill the client and how and when you expect the client to pay you. If you want to be paid via PayPal then you should say so, otherwise they may not be prepared to pay you this way -- which can cause delays. Spell out all the terms, the amount and how and when it all happens. Most resume writers charge full payment up front, so make sure your agreement outlines your refund policy. Also be sure to clarify how charges for additional services will be handled. (For example, those customized cover letters!)

Terms for Termination
Tell the client how they can terminate your agreement, and state how you can terminate the agreement. If there is an end date to this contract, state that here too. (For example: All resume projects not finalized within 45 days after the delivery of the draft document will be considered "closed" and any changes or corrections requested after that date will incur additional charges.)

It's super important to include any legalities that are required by your state or country. It also is good for the service provider to include a line that states any court proceedings and all laws will be determined by your state, city and county. That way if a problem happens you won't have to travel for court. (This is especially important if you work with clients outside your immediate geographical area.)

Complete Description of the Relationship between Both Parties
This is the area where you mention the nature of the business relationship, in terms of whether or not you are an independent contractor or an employee. Spelling it out here will protect both parties from IRS issues later. This isn't likely to be a big issue unless your agreement is with an outplacement service firm, for example, instead of a single client.

Non-Disclosure Agreement
This is something that is good for both parties -- you agree not to tell people you work for the client and the client agrees not to share your proprietary documents, processes, and materials with anyone else. Whatever you both want in this agreement to protect both parties in terms of non-disclosure goes here.

Ownership of the Deliverables
State in this section who owns the deliverables. Usually you will put words to the effect that deliverables are owned by the client once payment has been processed. This will help prevent non-payment or claims of ownership of the work when payment has not yet been submitted. This is the best way to protect your hard work and their intellectual property.

Having a client contract or agreement can't always protect you from PITA clients, but it can help you untangle the mess if a client does have an issue.