Hiring a Professional Genealogist Part Two

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Thinking about hiring a professional genealogist? There is a lot to consider.

Obviously, if you consider hiring a professional I do hope you consider Global Genealogists, but the most important thing to me is just that you hire someone who is good—who has the skills, background, and record access to perform your research accurately and well. This doesn’t mean that they will always find the answers you seek immediately, of course, since the findings always depend on what the records have to say, but it does mean that they will adhere to industry standards and best practices. You should consider the following areas when choosing a professional.

Credentials. It can be very helpful to ask where the genealogist learned his or her skills. Did their only training come from watching a few free online lessons, or did they complete an in-depth, serious course of study? As in other professions, serious professional genealogists usually spend years honing their craft and knowledge in order to provide their clients the best possible service, often in formal education. In the genealogy field, such professionals are often part of professional organizations, have degrees in genealogy and family history, and may be active in genealogy education.

Perhaps surprisingly, the number of years that a person has been doing genealogy is not always a good indicator of their skill level. The extremely fragmented nature of genealogy records, and the many different areas of search and strategy, mean that training in each area is extremely helpful for obtaining pertinent experience. Many years of experience does suggest some skill, of course, but the skill levels vary widely among those with much experience, from extremely good to very poor. Some of the best professional genealogists in the world never got a degree in genealogy and learned everything hands-on; other researchers with decades of experience may barely be able to get past the census records.

Price and value. With genealogy, as in many other areas of life, you often get what you pay for. I have had many clients hire me after initially hiring someone else on the basis of price alone, only to find that the reason the work was so cheap was that the person had little skill or record access and could not produce any intelligent research.

Undoubtedly, a random person in China who doesn’t speak English will happily perform a Google search for your ancestor for ten dollars per hour, but this is not going to give you any useful information, nor will the presentation of the research be helpful or solid. This does not, of course, mean that price is unimportant, simply that there is often a reason the cheapest are the cheapest. I recommend considering the full value proposition of the genealogist: what they provide for the amount they charge.

Past clients. Does the genealogist have a number of past clients providing referrals or testimonials? If he or she does not have past satisfied clients, you may want to carefully consider why.

Personal service. No one wants to hire a faceless company, especially for something as personal as genealogy and family history. It is important that you know who is in charge of your case work, ideally by interacting with them directly.

Overall, professionals can be extremely helpful if used properly and if you make an informed decision on who to hire and how to have the work done. If you have further questions, you can contact us through email or phone via our website, www.globalgenealogists.com, and we will be happy to assist you.

Hiring a Professional Genealogist Part One

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When to hire a genealogist? Many genealogical researchers reach a point where they are simply stuck—on certain lines, or with their overall history. Others become concerned about the validity of the research they have or have access to, especially if obtained online. Still others are very interested in the story of their family, but cannot or do not want to try to do the research themselves. And people often seek services, such as large printed family trees or professionally written and bound archive-quality family history books, that they cannot do themselves. Whatever the reason, people around the world hire professionals to help them in all aspects of genealogy and family history.

When my clients hire me, some of the main reasons I have noticed are my training and experience, access to good records, and expertise in implementing basic and advanced methodologies in finding ancestor information. Full documentation and professionally researched and written reports also play a role.

It can, of course, be expensive to hire a professional genealogist. Perhaps surprisingly, then, one of the most important reasons to hire a professional is that doing so can save money and time. If you have little access to the record sources you need, especially to a top archive, your choices are to try to do the research yourself by traveling to the archives, by ordering the records you need, or by hiring someone there.
Travel, however, is both expensive and time consuming. Ordering the records can be helpful and is often cheaper than a plane ticket, but in addition to taking weeks or months to complete a single research step, many records are unavailable. By contrast, the right professional can perform the work you need quickly, thoroughly, and with no hassle to you. It is important, though, that you carefully consider who you hire.

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