Why Good Career Services Are Worth Paying For

by: Joanne Meehl

When I offer a workshop series or other service, then state the fee, sometimes I get a surprised reaction -- as if I shouldn't be charging anything. This happens often enough so that it's a pattern. And it usually comes from people who are stumbling through their job search, month after month, and now into a second year. They continue to do the same old thing, expecting something new to happen. Some have savings or their mortgages are paid for but they won't spend a little in order to gain a lot. Your career funds your life -- so why be cheap with it? Do they not feel they are worth it? It is extremely painful to see.

A doctor or lawyer is called on to provide a service at times of great need. Yet one does not automatically assume that these professionals should go unpaid, unpaid for their knowledge and use of their skills. Why is it so, then, with career management professionals?

The best response to this thinking were words spoken by Peter Weddle, Internet job search guru, in his November 2009 newsletter. I've copied most of his comments here for easiest reading but be sure to read the original. He says it all:

"Certainly, no one can argue with the notion of trying, wherever possible, to avoid asking job seekers to sacrifice any more than they already are. To say that every product and service they might need should be free, however, takes that view to an illogical conclusion. Why? Because their good intentions have at least two unintended consequences that are bad.

"First, advising job seekers (and others) that they shouldn't pay a fee for a product or service that can help them find a job or advance their career is the equivalent of saying they shouldn't invest in their future. We pay for our college education, our insurance policies, even our membership in a professional or trade association because we believe that doing so will benefit us and we know it's up to us to do it. The same is true with our careers. There is no entitlement to workplace success, so it's up to us to make it happen. If we ignore that responsibility, we undermine our future.

"Sometimes, the tools we need will be free -- searching the employment opportunities on a job board, for example -- and at other times, there will be a cost to acquire them. Paying that fee is not inappropriate; it's a commitment we make to and in ourselves. We have to be smart about it, of course -- as with other kinds of investment, it is possible to buy useless or even harmful career products and service -- but the payment itself is a profoundly empowering act, one that reinforces our self-respect and our capability at the same time.

"The Internet is the richest source of human knowledge ever devised. It's also a garbage heap of mediocre advice, bad information, stale ideas, and occasionally, outright dangerous opinions. Most of us have learned, therefore, to evaluate what we find online very carefully. We select what we determine to be true and useful and we ignore the rest. Subscriptions to the online version of The Wall Street Journal, for example, have actually risen during the recession, and those subscriptions aren't free. Hundreds of thousands of people pay to access that information because they believe that it's helpful to them and better than what they can get in other places.

"The same is true with job search and career resources. There's a lot of free stuff out there on the Web, but it's not necessarily state-of-the-art or very helpful. For example, you'll find countless primers and checklists of job search techniques that worked in the 1990's, but will waste your time and get you nowhere today. Paying a fee for a career tool or resource doesn't necessarily mean it will be qualitatively better, but it certainly holds it to a higher standard. So, what should you do? Be as smart a consumer of career tools as you are of cell phones and television sets. Assess the credibility and track record of the individual or organization behind the product or service before you invest your time or money in using it."

So if you need to do something new, talk to some professionals and choose one who will help you, and pay them. Do something different. And good. For yourself. You are worth it.

Joanne Meehl offers a variety of career services via the web, small groups, and in person, to professionals in job search who want to get to their next step. Check other pages of her web site to learn more.


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