This doesn’t happen often, but it has happened more than once. In each case, I gave my client my best advice, which was counter to my financial interest.

It was hard to do, but I slept better knowing that I had done the right thing.

Let me explain.

Because I am confident in the results that I help clients get, I work on contingency with many of my career transition clients.

This is an unusual business model in the industry, which tends to use monthly retainer or payment per hour as its standards.

When I help a client get a job offer or contract project, I get a small percentage of their first year’s gross salary or the total value of the project.

This enables me to work with people who may be in financial distress. They are more than happy to pay me if they get back to work. To date, this has mostly worked well for me and for my clients. But there are one or two exceptions….

The story I want to share is about a client I worked with for 5-6 months. We did a lot of intense work on her confidence, personal branding, and value to an organization. It was quite an investment of my time.

As we worked together, she had several interviews for full-time positions, but none resulted in a job offer. Then, an organization made her an offer for a long-term contract. She had the option to write the contract for 90 days with the option to renew – or for six months with the option to renew.

Given that the organization had gone through some recent shake-ups in senior management and was unclear on the exact scope of her project, I advised my client to do 90 days.

If things didn’t work out, she was only stuck there for 90 days, and she could honestly say that she completed the contract, and not have to quit, etc.

In addition, she also hadn’t worked full time in one place in a while, and it was a good way to test the fit – on both sides.

Unfortunately, the total value of the project was then 90 days, not six months, so I got half of what I would have if I had recommended that she go with six months.

Now, you could say that if she renewed the contract, I should be entitled to the rest, but that hasn’t happened in these situations.

Should I rewrite my letter agreement with clients? Maybe. It’s not a regular occurrence – but it does sting a little.

I have a referral-based business and most former clients do refer friends, colleagues, and family members. People who I do extra work with often pay me back with referrals. Any lost revenue tends to work out over time.

Maybe I should just think of it as a deposit in the karma bank?