Recently a funny, yet all to true, infographic was posted to the Fly Higher Tribe called, “How a Website Design Goes Straight to Hell” (link shared below). It hit home for many of us, who at one time or another have been struck by the client who wants to make changes that we know will alter the success of the document.
I outline it as such:
Client comes back for changes to resume stating, “My brother’s sister’s wife’s aunt works in Human Resources, and she said….<insert butchering of resume to return it to evil, generic status…>.”
Now let’s be clear:
We want our clients to be happy and confident with their resume. We do listen to them. But if the changes are going to make the resume ineffective, we need to help our clients see the error in their ways.
However, after having all the wrongs whispered in their ear by someone they know, it’s common for them to now be scared out of trusting us regarding their resume.
Suddenly they have become doubtful, forgetting why they invested in you and all the testimonials, certifications, and etc. you showed them of proof that you are an expert.
When this happens you might have…
Let the client have their way.
Unfortunately, they may come back later blaming the resume for their lack of success, saying, “Well you let me do it. Why didn’t you tell me it was damaging?”
Try to talk to them before making the damaging changes.
But sadly, it most likely falls on deaf ears because they are panicked and low on trust now.
Where is that “just right” solution?
The Waiver of Responsibility
That’s it — presenting your client with a Waiver of Responsibility form!
Asking someone to sign a simple agreement that clearly states you are making changes you feel will be damaging is very sobering. It will get them to sit up and pay attention.
This is how it usually goes when using the waiver:
“Remember I told you blah blah blah (referring to what is in my consult script about resume needs/responsibilities). Well, if I make these requested changes I feel strongly that your resume will not work the way you expect it to. I’m willing to make those changes but I will require you to first sign my waiver of responsibility. I want to make sure it is 100% clear that I believe these changes will be detrimental to your chances for success.”
Then you send the waiver over to them if we aren’t face to face.
This is what the waiver, which you can access to download below, says:
I ________________________________ on this day ________, 20____, have elected to make changes in style, layout and/or wording of my professional resume that are not approved by the contracted service of <Company Name>. I have received counsel from my writing consultant regarding this matter but have opted to pursue this course despite his/her expressed concern. I therefore waive all responsibility of <Company Name> and its writers for my resume development. _____ Initial
I also agree to not apply the name of <Company Name> to the development of my resume or any problems I may encounter therein. _____ Initial
Further, I understand that should I wish to return the resume to its original recommended form at a later date, an additional charge will be assessed based on the required time to complete the revision / update. _____ Initial
And of course, there are places for them to sign it.
In the 12 years I put this form in front of anyone, every time but once (on a cover letter) my clients decided to trust me again.
Yes, it really is that simple.
If the client decides to go with their changes, they are clear on your stance and have removed any responsibility from your shoulders.
If the client opts to trust you, which most will, you know they have a tool with which to be successful.
One of our members, Melissa Kelley Kelley Resumes & Wordsmithing, took a look at CDI’s Waiver of Responsibility, and put a section on the waiver topic right into her client agreement/contract.
In this case, she opts to educate clients up front on the issue of “resume feedback” and can refer them to this if they come back wanting changes that will be damaging.
Resumes for Recruiters & Career Centers
This is a whole other can of worms but needs to be touched on.
If your client comes back saying their recruiter, career center, or other similar entity had issues with their resume, there is further critical clarification to be made.
It’s important to educate your client that it is common for these types of entities to require a template format that meets their standards, and theirs alone.
If your client wants to go through that channel, they must do what the individual/company requests. However, they should NOT be making these changes to the master resume they will use in ALL OTHER FORMS OF JOB SEARCH.
To learn more about this, we’ve got two great lessons to check out with links below: Deeper Look: Handling “My Resume Doesn’t Work” without Refunds and Grab My Scripts & Strategy for “My resume isn’t working”. These are written for when you have to circle back regarding any issues your clients may return with. However, reading them now can give you wording for educating clients in the initial resume editing and review process.
Help Clients to Succeed
Our sole goal as career professionals is to help our clients be successful.
While we want to embrace their personality, skill, style and accomplishments in our documents, it’s important to remember that sometimes they can be their worst enemy regarding who to trust.
Don’t be afraid to gently but firmly guide your client to the Waiver of Responsibility when you can see their changes heading them down a path fraught with struggle.
They’ve invested in you and your expertise, so champion them by being willing to speak up and show them the right way.
Additional Relevant Resources
Client Contracts and Agreements >> (Waiver is located on this page)
6-Figure Blueprint for Consulting, Sales, Packaging & Closing >> (Includes the entire consultation sales script under Core)