I took a class offered by the National Association of Professional Organizers this morning on Ethics. I've been professionally organizing for quite a while now so most of the information was not new to me. Therefore I am happy to report that whew, I am truly an ethical person.
Ok, I wasn't worried about that at all. I follow ethical and moral rules to a fault in my life, sometimes causing my husband to roll his eyes at my virtue. I really do need to relax about rules more and that's a whole other blog post I could write.
But how do you, as an average person, hire a professional organizer and know that you can trust them? Here are a few things to look for:
Are they a member of NAPO like I am? All members must adhere to a code of ethics and, to become a professional organizer listed on their website, must take several classes, including a class on ethics.
Are they a Certified Professional Organizer® like I am? All members must have over 1500 hours of working with clients before they can apply to become certified. Chances are that if they were unethical or unprofessional, they wouldn't have enough hours with happy clients to get certified. CPOs also have an additional code of ethics that we follow as well in order to maintain our certification.
Do they have clear company policies in place like I do? I send all of my clients my policies and procedures before our initial appointment so they know what to anticipate and there is no question about hours, payment, or expectations. In addition, they are available on my website so you can see them before you call me.
Do your research and look through the websites and social media sites of someone you are about to hire. Make sure they "feel right" to you, their personality seems like a good fit, and darn it, you just like the look of them. Someone who will potentially be seeing your personal records or personal pain or personal underwear is someone you really should be comfortable with.
I get asked a lot, "I bet you've seen it all," and believe me, I have seen a lot. But I've also learned to not judge people at first sight. I will not quickly recognize clients in public situations unless they approach me first in order to protect confidentiality. I don't EVER share private information I am privy to with anyone else. I always get client permission for everything I do. Above all, I'm a terrible liar, so I always tell the truth and have become quite good at doing it in a kind and respectful way.
So if you've been on the fence about hiring a professional organizer, just do your homework first. You may think it's just a little clutter, but you may end up pouring your soul out to this person while sifting through the items in your home. I'd want to make sure it's someone I can trust and you should, too.