This morning’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran an article about outplacement services, a newswire story that originated in Providence, RI.
The story’s theme: Companies try to help laid-off workers get jobs by offering outplacement. These services do an inventory of skills and interests, then try to help laid-off workers find new jobs.
Company spokespersons note that about 2/3 of lower-level managers and half of senior level managers within 3 months.
So are they successful? What I tell my clients
(1) Outplacement firms work for your employer, not for you.
Their goal is to defuse emotions so you won’t sue (or worse). They want to place you as quickly as possible so you’ll move on and, incidentally, have no reason to make a claim on your previous employer. If you’re earning a good salary, you can’t claim financial loss or hardship.
(2) Let’s get real.
Most outplaced workers are employable and even marketable. If you’ve got a good track record with Firm Blue, if you’re not above the age norms for your field, and if your industry isn’t about to go belly-up, then you have a good chance to win a similar position in Firms Green, Yellow and Orange. A few job hunting strategies will go a long way.
(3) Most aptitude and interest tests are a waste of time and money. See
my article on this topic.
Outplacement firms use them to gain time: you’ll do well on these tests and get into a better mood, so you’re more likely to do well on the job market.
But when push comes to shove, your outplacement firm doesn’t care if you’re happy. They want you employed so you make them look good.
Is this goal bad? Not necessarily. Getting on a payroll — any payroll — often makes a lot of sense. Just don’t kid yourself about what’s going on.
(4) If you’re over your industry age norms, outplacement firms may not help.
Above a certain age, you need to consider self-employment, whether you have the aptitude or desire. By all means continue looking for a real job with benefits. But insist on an interview with your local Small Business Administration. I have a list of resources to help my own clients and website visitors get started on the Internet.
(5) You may get lucky.
Some outplacement firms have superb consultants and wise leadership. Others do not.
Several years ago I met a displaced executive who had no luck with the resume his outplacement firm had put together — a functional resume that did not show off his superb track record. I made a few suggestions and he was soon happily employed.
OK, I am tooting my own horn here, but many career consultants could do the same. I find that outplacement services seem to recommend functional resumes, which turn off employers. Experienced career consultants rarely recommend them. See my own ebook:
Irreverent Job Search Guide
Bottom Line: If your company offers outplacement, don’t turn it down! But stay aware of realities and don’t surrender control of your job search to anyone, ever.