The Real Skinny on Corporate Outplacement Services

Posted on December 10, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

With the current state of affairs and rising joblessness rate, many corporations will be offering outplacement services to displaced workers. The corporation signs a contract with an outplacement firm to offer a variety of job transition assistance free of charge to employees that the company is laying off. These services can range from resume writing to career coaching to workshops to interview skills training.

By and large, it is a nice concept under not-so-nice circumstances. The company feels bad so it offers a consolation prize, essentially. These services would be expensive to purchase on your own, so now you don’t have to.

The problem, however, is that although many of these services provide you with well-meaning support from sincere individuals, the quality of the assistance received is lackluster, especially from some of the big-name firms. And the results are not counted.

Let’s take a look at the resume services, for example. On the resume side, the product is often cookie cutter (after all, they have to write hundreds of resumes for everyone in your company and they only have 10 writers to do it, so how much time can they spend on yours?), the writers are not always top notch, and the overall process is not performed at a high level (the interview process to retrieve your information can be weak; they’ll take whatever you give them with little follow-through). But even more concerning is the fact that these writers (and the firms they work for) are not held accountable for whether their documents are at all effective.

After all, you, the job seeker is not the client they are trying to satisfy; it is the company whose showing you the door. Therefore, once the service is done, whom do you follow-up with when things aren’t progressing?

It is certainly commendable that companies want to give you a handout, but you have to remember that you often get what you pay for. For entry-level and blue collar positions, these services may be OK, but for mid-management and up, where competition for jobs is tight, they are likely to fall way short of what these seekers really need.

So before you put too much hope into these “free” benefits, take a good look at the firm your company has chosen. Are you just a number, yet another laid off employee to assist or are you getting focused, targeted advice?

A layoff is a very disorienting, frustrating time for anyone, but don’t let yourself get lost in the shuffle. Picking up the pieces and deciding what’s next is both emotional and challenging, so it is time to stop relying on your old employer and the poor choices it makes on your behalf (remember, this is the same leadership that has been unable to manage its operations effectively, which is why you are being laid off in the first place) and instead take the lead and look for high-quality resources that will give you the true help you need. Yes, it might mean an investment on your part, but this is your livelihood, your career, and you want to be in charge of who assists you along the way.

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