I realize I am probably about to open a HUGE can of worms with this topic. That’s OK. I am inviting a little controversy into the comments section of my post. So let me don my bullet-proof armor and then: bring it!
I can not count the number of times I have seen Virtual Assistants posting in various forums with this one sensitive question:
What should I do if a potential client asks me for my resume?
To be crystal clear from the start – I am never offended when a client asks me this question. After all, we are a new-ish industry and our clients are often unsure of what they should ask a Virtual Assistant during a consultation.
But with that said – a potential client will never get a resume from me. I’ll tell you why:
1. By definition a resume is : a document used by individuals to present their background and skillsets. Great! It is perfectly understandable why a client would want to see such a document. However, there is absolutely nothing on my resume that you can’t already find out about me on my ‘About’ page, or my Linkedin profile. In fact, there is a lot less on my resume than what they will find online. I will happily re-direct a client to have a look at those places first.
2. A resume is a tool you use when applying for a job. We have to always remember we are NOT applying for a job. We are not employees. We are business owners and it is generally understood that you do not ask other business owners for a resume. Did you ask your hairdresser for her resume before you ‘hired’ him/her to cut your hair? Did you ask your accountant? Of course not! By sending your resume to a client you are establishing very early on that you are ‘OK’ with them treating you like an employee. Are you really OK with that?
3. Resumes are not References. While it is not the norm to ask a business owner for a resume – it is perfectly acceptable to ask a business owner for references. (Take for example Joe Blow contractor who finished your basement…I would hope you asked him for references…yet you most likely did not ask him for his resume!) A good V.A. should easily be able to provide a list of happy customers and raving fans either on their websites or elsewhere. I have absolutely no problem providing references when asked. To reiterate: References are not resumes.
4. Every time you give out your resume (because it’s no big deal for you) you are de-valuing the entire Virtual Assistance Industry. Ouch! That’s heavy. But it’s true. When you happily send off your resume to a potential client you are re-enforcing the idea that this is an acceptable practice. It truly is not. If you want to be taken seriously – as a professional business owner – you must have the confidence and knowledge to act like one. In my experience clients will respect you far more if you are not so quick to send of a resume. Imagine for a moment if you actually DID ask your hair dresser for a resume. How much respect would you have for the person who bent over backwards to get one for you? Would you feel more confident if she were able to re-direct you to multiple places online where you can find out her skills, read testimonials and see samples of her work? Think about that one.
So how do you handle it when asked? It is really so very easy. When asked for my resume I tell my clients “Actually I use my Website and Linkedin pages to showcase my skillsets. All of my education and professional experience is there, as well as some personal info about me. You will find some testimonials from my clients and see how my company has helped others in the past. There are also some samples of my work. If you have any questions after looking there – I’d be happy to answer them for you”
If a client pushes the issue then I know they are not my ideal client and will happily let them move on and work with someone else. (To be honest – this has never happened to me. Usually once you have gently educated the potential client about using your website/social media pages they are more than happy to drop the whole ‘resume’ issue!)
I hope if you are asked for a resume you will think twice before sending it. The only way we will change the mindset of potential customers and increase the professionalism of the VA industry is to stick together on this one. Remember that you are a business owner and it is up to you to set the right expectations.