Do You Make Assumptions About Clients?

By Lori Jazvac.

At one time or another, we’ve probably all done it, possibly without even realizing it; made assumptions about prospective or existing clients.

Making assumptions about clients could impact our intake processes, client relationships, résumé and career coaching outcomes, and even our credibility.

How can we avoid making assumptions about clients? First, we must recognize that they exist. Then, focus on remaining objective and unbiased, maintaining a positive attitude, doing research, and asking relevant questions to uncover needed information from clients.

Four Common Assumptions to Avoid as a Career Professional

1. Don’t assume that every prospective client is your client.

Jobseekers may interview you as a career professional to determine if you’re the best fit for working with them. However, you also need to interview each prospective client to ensure that a suitable fit exists. Consider:

  • How can you best meet the client’s career goals and needs?
  • Do you have the tools, resources, and expertise necessary to help this client in both the short-term and long-term?
  • How will this client benefit from your services and value?

When in doubt about a fit between you and a client, refer to another trusted professional. The client relationship needs to be built on mutual trust, respect, honesty, and integrity. Be selective when choosing your clients.

2. Don’t assume that your client fully understands the résumé writing and career coaching process.

During my intake process, clients sometimes ask, “Is the résumé writing and career coaching process worth my time and investment?” or “Will I get results?”

The answer to both questions is YES.

I help clients realize and articulate their unique value, create compelling brand marketing collateral, and position them for their next career move.

It is natural for clients to feel overwhelmed by the career coaching process, especially if they have never worked with a career professional before or have not had their résumé customized in years.

Here are some things to consider when describing your services to prospective clients:

  • Explain how your career services are unique and will be beneficial in positioning them for their next career move.
  • Keep your methodology and processes simple.
  • Demonstrate the ROI and opportunity costs with proven facts and statistics.
  • Offer clients an e-guide with their résumé package: “Working Effectively with Your Résumé Writer.”
  • Emphasize that the résumé building/career coaching process is a collaborative process based on firm commitment and accountability.
  • Present testimonials and accolades supporting your personal career highlights and successes.

3. Don’t assume that your client understands the meaning of “achievements.”

Achievements will help set your client apart from the competition and are a key piece of the résumé. However, many clients have difficulty differentiating between responsibilities and achievements. In fact, some underestimate and understate the value they have to offer.

Outline clear examples of impactful achievements and then ask the right questions to guide and support clients in the process of articulating their own achievements.

  • Lead with metrics using the CAR method (Challenge-Action-Result) to identify key strengths, milestones, and successes.
  • Use details of key projects, challenges overcome, or work situations to gather information. As examples, how did the client increase revenue and/or efficiency, cut costs, or promote innovation?
  • Remind the client that achievements are important for conveying his or her unique value beyond the job search. When discussed during networking events, for example, those achievements might just lead to unexpected and exciting new opportunities.

4. Don’t assume that your client is ready to proceed with the job search right away.

Before you begin working with a client, it is helpful to set an agenda with clear objectives and timelines.

However, often the unexpected (client’s personal situation) can delay the job search process, especially during a challenging career transition.

What is the best course to take?

  • Ask relevant questions to understand your client’s goals and needs.
  • With the client’s input, build a sound and agreed-upon career action plan with manageable steps.
  • Remain flexible. Show empathy.
  • Demonstrate a firm sense of commitment and collaboration to improve outcomes.
  • Offer additional job search tools and keep your client updated on career and labour market trends/developments.

As career advocates, we need to remain supportive and adaptable. It is helpful to keep in mind that every client is unique and requires a personalized approach. We can all learn a great deal from our clients!

Elevate your career expertise to new levels by obtaining the Certified Employment Strategist (CES) credential through Career Professionals of Canada.

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