I was on a business development call with some colleagues and one of them brought up a difficult client. Someone else chimed in with one of their tougher clients. Then another. The focus of our call became the complainers with impossible demands and shifting expectations…

I admit I’ve had a couple of challenging clients through the years. It’s easy to write them off but it’s always best to look inward before casting blame.

So what’s going on?

We’ve got a rockstar team. Our resumes are the best in the business. People would be amazed at how much thought and time we put into a 1-3 page document.

Is it our process?

We have the most comprehensive information gathering process I’ve seen, comprised of an hour of coaching/consulting and a very well crafted questionnaire to both help clients generate resume content and prepare them for their interview process.

What about customer service?

We’re responsive as all get-out. When I can’t answer the phone personally, our administrative manager certainly does, if only to get back to customers with a real live voice to say “we’re super busy, how can I help”.

Maybe we’re slacking on followup?

Our infrastructure is technologically rich, making it possible to track projects through every step and get back to existing clients immediately to address their needs. At any given time, 3 people are paying attention to a single client.

Am I ranting?

That’s not the goal here (well, not the primary goal). The point is we’re doing all we can to keep customers happy. We’re staying relatively small, offering a high-touch service, and bringing clients into the process all along the way. Put another way, we’ve set up a system to control our extensive resume development process so that nothing and nobody gets overlooked or under-serviced.

But I guess there is one thing that we can’t control:

The job market.

Whenever I get a lukewarm response from a client and inquire further, I usually get a response like these:

“Things are tight right now.”
“I was really counting on this resume to change everything.”
“I just don’t have the money.”
“It’s hard to justify paying for anything.”
“I need help now, not in a month.”
“No one will hire me no matter what I do.”

The pain is real folks, and it flows amongst anyone involved in the job search process, directly or indirectly. I suppose I need to buck up with my self-absorbed complaints of “difficult months” and instead relish the fact that I’m employed and in a position to help. And although my intentions with BrightSide are honest, simply offering or even successfully delivering, such help may not be enough to make the pain disappear.

Only getting a job can do that.

If I’m truly open to criticism (which I try to be), it hurts a little. And I suppose we’re all hurting at least a little when we’re out of work. If it’s not us, it’s someone we know not getting the recognition they deserve.

After several months of non-response, anyone — even the most seasoned, self-confident professional — will get discouraged. It’s a lonely, frustrating feeling and it seems to be inextricably linked to looking for work.

At the base of the issue, it just hurts.

And I guess one way to offer support to anyone in this position is to put aside my ego, take their comments, and hurt a little bit with them.

Career Transition, Job Market, Resumes