ASK AN MBA: Resume and Career Consulting Business

ask an mba

I've been wanting to branch out as a resume and career search consultant. Any advice that you can provide?

-Marilyn R.


So you want to do career and resume consulting? Terrific! Here are some tips to get your business off the ground.

I'm not sure how far along you are in the process but I would attack this in a measured way. First, have you already helped some people with their resumes, especially where they could provide positive feedback about the results and process?

If you haven't yet, offer your services for free to a few friends or associates to get that step done. Yes, I said free. That doesn't mean your services aren't worth anything (they are actually quite valuable).

But once you get a bunch of these under your belt -- with solid references/recommendations -- this will give you the ability to market your services more effectively. 

You see, everyone wants to rush to sell or market themselves. But if you build the foundation first -- which could be a one-page website or even a one-page flyer with good info -- and you can show prior success in helping people, that's a battle won. A one-page website describing a) what you can do b) why it's necessary and c) that you've already helped a bunch of people is key.  

So before you turn your attention to bringing in paying clients (who will be your best source of future work via word of mouth), help 6-12 people and get their testimonials. Then register a domain and create a simple one-page site with testimonials, your pitch and contact info. Now you've got a solid foundation for selling your service.

Now maybe you've done this a bunch of times already and even have a webpage to send people to. Then we turn to marketing.

My first suggestion is completely old school: hit the streets. Create a 1-sheet with cut "pull-off tabs" and at the bottom of the paper put your website and phone number. Hang that up in local supermarkets, libraries, book stores -- ANYPLACE local to you with a bulletin board where job seekers might be.

Think creatively here - if you are a job seeker where would you go? I notice a lot of people looking for jobs as they use free wi-fi in coffee houses. Starbucks (or any national chains) will likely not allow you to hang or post anything, so think indie shops. Maybe there's a local stationery/ card store where people go to buy nice resume paper. Or a printer that makes business cards. 

And offer a free consultation (thats a big draw) and once someone contacts you, you are closer to a sale. 

I think this begs for local, grass-roots outreach to land clients. I'm hesitant to suggest ads on Facebook or Google because the money goes so quick when you do that and it's hard to get the ads right without a lot of experimentation.

Stick with your town and surrounding areas and I bet you could hang up hundreds of flyers. It's a numbers game - the more places you can hit, the more likely people will start to contact you.

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John Lavallo57 Posts

John is Columbia Business School MBA with expertise in marketing, business leadership, and law. John is a successful entrepreneur who took his first company public. He currently resides in New York City.