Getting Professional Help 61 · Job placement services--These services can help you find employment when there is no out- placement service contracted by your organization. Let's face it: Not every em-ployer will give advanced warning of layoffs. When you suddenly become unemployed, it is not unusual to feel somewhat helpless and to lack direction. Job placement services will examine your professional and educational background to find job opportunities for you. These experts get paid to find you a job, and they will focus their attentions exclusively on identifying your strengths and applying them to the appropriate job openings. These professionals also give assistance developing re- sumés and honing your interviewing skills. Very often, these agencies are subcontracted by outplacement agencies where the employer is the client. · Entrepreneurship--Increasingly, many employees who have been laid off are starting up their own business ventures. A multitude of publicly financed agencies can assist with your efforts. The agencies listed in the following section provide the least expensive and most common sources of entrepreneurial assistance. The Owner These services apply to small and medium-sized firms seeking assistance with operating, market- ing, and financing their business enterprises: · Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)--Assist with business planning, conduct spe- cialized workshops, and offer free consulting services. Most are housed at community colleges and universities throughout the United States. · Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE)--Provides many of the services offered by SBDCs. You may prefer the counseling guidance of retired executives from major corporations. · Minority Business Development Agency, Women's Business Centers, and Native American Business Development Centers--Offer programs similar to SBDCs and SCORE, but are direc- ted to demographic segments based on racial, ethnic, and gender categories. How to Hire Help With the exception of government-subsidized programs, fees charged by consultants are diverse. Some charge by the hour; others charge by project. Caution Most consultants rarely, if ever, publicly advertise their rates. Find the type of consultant that you need, and call for rates to compare. Ask the following questions when you consider contracting an organization consultant: · · · · · · Do you charge by the hour or by the project? Do you have credentials to verify your education and experience with the type of service? Do you have references from previous clients? Can you provide a breakdown of the services to be performed, as well as itemized costs? Can you provide a timeline in which the service will be performed? Can the timeline show the results expected after each phase of your work? Like anybody else, you want the most bang for your buck, and you want someone who is qualified. The 30-Second Recap · For the office, there are specialty consultants to improve organizational structure and produc- tivity.