Should I Charge?

An acquaintance of mine was recently drafted to “look over” a friend’s resume in order to “tighten it up” a bit prior to an upcoming interview. This acquaintance happens to be great at writing resumes and cover letters, but hates updating her own resume and  “would never charge for something like that” since she’s doing this friend a favor. The only thing is, the resume she’s been given to work with is full of “cringe-worthy” grammatical errors and alleged lies about her friend’s work history and competencies.

I won’t delve into the ethics issue here, mostly because I feel that a lot of people who fudge their resumes get caught when they can’t back up the lie once they’re hired or heaven forbid, they can’t remember how the lie went in the first place. I also feel that it’s a different discussion for a different day, and it is a worthwhile one at that.

Just as you wouldn’t expect someone to climb on your roof and fix it for free, I shouldn’t be expected to climb out on a blank page and splay out my thought work without pay.  The job may not be as sweaty, but it can be just as perilous.

No, this acquaintance is not me, but I have dealt with a similar situation several times in the past, and I’ve learned my lesson: charge everybody for everything. It took me a long time to get over that because it somehow seemed mean spirited.  But a friend of mine gave me some perspective when she explained a simple premise: favors don’t pay bills. And when I was at my lowest point, when I wasn’t able to pay my bills or even survive because of all my “favors”, I learned to make NO apologies for charging people for my services. I do this for a living, and like you, I can’t afford to work for free.  Just as you wouldn’t expect someone to climb on your roof and fix it for free, I shouldn’t be expected to climb out on a blank page and splay out my thought work without pay.  The job may not be as sweaty, but it can be just as perilous.

However, for the folks who don’t shingle sentences for a living, what if you just so happen to be good at something and your friend is asking you for a favor, but that favor just so happens to take much longer and proves more challenging than you initially thought? Do you:

A.) Charge her for the resume work and do it remarkably well, as you would anyway ’cause you’re just exacting that way. Besides, there’s a recession going on and this is might result in full-time work for her and a part-time hustle for you.

B.) Look over the document, fire off some quick notes and let her “tighten it up” herself. She only needs a bit of guidance.

C.) Tell her ‘no’ because you haven’t even updated your own resume in six months, then honor the laziness in you by playing Wii Sports Resort for the rest of the afternoon.

While there’s no wrong answer, I did slip in one innocuous choice. I’m sure you know which one I’d choose and which one would be a close second. Kayaking anyone?

Leave your five cents at the beep.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Should I Charge?

  1. Southern Politico

    Hi Freelance Tita!

    I think one should simply “look over” the document, fire off comments (including one about the obvious lie), and let the friend do their on work. Think about it, your acquainatance was asked to “look over” the document,” not produce the masterpiece they are so inclined to create.

    Sometimes we burden ourselves trying to do “too much!” I was plagued with this disorder for many years and recently had to learn how to say no and back off to save my own sanity and the relationship (you usually end up resenting the person).

    Moreover, many times that person is not going to be hurt or offended that you offered them the minimal. After all, in this situation it is what they actually requested.

    I remember asking a friend to look at my resume once. Now I don’t think my resume was anywhere near the disaster you describe above, but I thought feedback from a trusted friend might offer me just the fresh perspective I needed to give new wind to the darn thing.

    This friend, like you, “shingles sentences” for a living (such a cute way to put it by the way!). And I think because of that, she automatically assumed I wanted her to overhaul my resume. I didn’t! I actually enjoy writing my own resume and would never be comfortable moving forward with a document, that is so organically connected to my image, to be written completely by another party.

    Needless to say, it was me in the awkward position that time. As the friend held onto my poor rezzie for dear life while she “found the time” to look it over, get updated on my career moves and professional development and most recent achievements so she could reflect them on my new resume, I waited (im)patiently and with much internal frustration just wanting for a few comments.

    Why didn’t I just say something?

    I did! However, because this friend is so used to people requesting the complete overhaul due to what is her chosen profession, she assumed that’s what I “really” wanted, despite the request for a”simple glance” that departed my lips.

    So, I say all of this to say sometimes, just sometimes, these awkward “should I charge?” moments are driven by us and not by the friend.

    Don’t assume that just because you are a doctor and and I ask you whether I should take my pesky cough seriously enough to see a physician, that what I’m really asking for is a checkup, gratis.

    Sometimes, I really just want to know what next step I should take…really.

    And for those moments when someone really is trying to mooch off of your kindness and propensity for perfection, just learn to “let go.”

    Even when you are letting go of the hottest piece of mess you ever laid before you eyes.

    Otherwise, that superwoman (man) cape will start to weigh you down something terrible.

    Peace!
    RC

    P.S. Loving the blog girl!

    • Letita

      Don’t assume that just because you are a doctor and and I ask you whether I should take my pesky cough seriously enough to see a physician, that what I’m really asking for is a checkup, gratis.

      Sometimes, I really just want to know what next step I should take…really.

      And for those moments when someone really is trying to mooch off of your kindness and propensity for perfection, just learn to “let go.”

      Even when you are letting go of the hottest piece of mess you ever laid before you eyes.

      Otherwise, that superwoman (man) cape will start to weigh you down something terrible.

      Hi Southern Politico! Thanks for reading. I think this is great perspective and further proves that even with all these years under my belt, I’ve got to work on my tendency to assume folks are mooching and want the world. As I wrote before, I’ve been in this situation a lot, so I jump into automatic freelance mode, contract in hand. But as SP articulates, that’s my perception; it’s not always the reality of the situation. To get at reality, though, it’s important to ask clarifying questions and be willing to let things go.

      I so love it when I learn from other people. I hate to get all Oprah on you all, but this is an aha moment if ever I saw one. Loves it.

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