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September 29, 2008

Thoughts on Considering The Best Outplacement Coaches and Providers

Outplacement firms focus on transitioning employees. In downsizings or terminations companies often choose outplacement programs or have them in place for these events. If you work in human resources choosing an outplacement firm and planning ahead would be a smart use of your time. Make these decisions in advance. Make them now. The design and delivery of services make the outplacement choice effective.

Once the province of only large companies, many small companies should add outplacement services and options for transitioning employees. It simply cuts down on anger, stress, legal retaliation and can be a source of positive public relations whether you are a company of 2 or 25,000+. We will do another post on the buzz and public relations or crisis communication problems that arise when you fire someone without the safety net of a quality outplacement program.

Outplacement often comes down to an individual sport. As an individual many people ask me what top career coaches in outplacement should do or tell them.

Thoughts on this issue continue below.

Often those coaches provide excellent advice, especially if those coaches within outplacement firms possess certifications and industry experience suited to potential jobseekers. As an owner of a boutique outplacement firm I can speak from 17+ years of experience on the front lines, coaching younger workers and executives.

In many of my national conferences, through personal and professional experiences I feel that the top career coaches are telling their clients what to do and what not to do in today’s market:

First an excellent coach should offer select websites, resources, and everything they know; the best career coaches cater their advice to the individual. They should guide you to a wealth of resources and you should do a lot of work yourself. A top career coach within outplacement provides studied, individual advice and helps you help yourself. They facilitate your search and should quickly encourage you to take ownership of your search after solid initial training. You must perform many of the hard aspects of your search yourself with a constant safety net; that’s the most productive nature of a good outplacement career coach. Most people want and need quick results. Work with your coach on getting those results.

Excellent career coaches within outplacement do not view their clientele as members of groups but as individuals with individual needs and goals. Even group events should be tailored to the audiences. Often in outplacement there remains a herd mentality to advice because outplacement contracts often imply group training or thoughts. If you have, purchase or are involved in multi-month outplacement you should look at it as a journey. Engage and help your career coach focus you. Force yourself out of your comfort zone to do the hard things in search – networking, relationship building, research, interview training, document tweaks. Let your career coach help you. Partner with them, work with them and encourage them too. They will help you. Some clients need a lot of help. Others need mostly encouragement.

The best coaches define networking, interview training, document preparation, research and assessments as vital. Solid outplacement career coaches empower their clients and are very available for key questions that come up along the way. Each element of the search must be planned for both short and long-term gain. From a macro perspective and group mentality point of view, I unfortunately I see generalized advice and generalized search ideas transmitted to people as one would feed a herd of cattle. It pains me to see jobseekers with a one day outplacement program think that they will have the kind of follow up and professional process they need to secure new and gainful employment. Search elements must be tailored to each individual as a suit of armor. That’s not always possible but it should be a collective goal between you the coach and the employee or executive in transition. It depends on the budget set for outplacement by the company. Good outplacement career coaches can only help if the program can afford their time. On another note outplacement programs often can be so short and short cited to no fault of the outplacement provider.

Let me also send up a few warning flags or signs of a top career coach so that you or those you counsel can find the right coach.

A strong career coach should not be doing this as an aside unless they have a multi-year reputation in the career field or industry. They should take a short and long-term approach with every candidate they assist. Good coaches both push and encourage their clients to take responsibility for their search and productive action.

Just being a former human resources representative is not enough to qualify someone as a top career coach at an outplacement firm. Remember many outplacement firms employ and pay their sales people much more than their consultants. Consultants that deliver the outplacement firms programs may be contract workers. According to the Directory of Outplacement & Career Management Firms: “There are many high quality people who work on a contract basis, but you need to know if they can deliver the firm’s process with consistency and quality.”

Furthermore, look for endorsements, training courses, certifications, publications and successful clients over years. The best career coaches in outplacement aren’t just between jobs or moonlighting as resume writers and career coaches on the side. This is their profession and they are committed to it.

Look for and demand only the best when you have a multi-week or multi-month outplacement opportunity. If you are involved in a group event as an outplacement employee be thankful for the time but don’t expect extensive personalization of your search program. But you can demand the best resources available and as much individual advice as possible, especially if you have an executive outplacement program. You may have to be willing to pay more for individual services and due your due diligence to find the best career coach possible.

Look for coaches and companies that can deliver services locally, nationally or globally. Many individual coaches and outplacement firms should have a multi-year local and national presence. This does not mean the firm must be big. But they should think big.

One Response to “Thoughts on Considering The Best Outplacement Coaches and Providers”

  1. December 30, 2008 at 4:00 pm, Dave Baldwin said:

    I haven’t had much experience with corporate outplacement, but the experience I did have was disappointing. It was similar to what you described: “Here’s how to write a resume, here’s how you write a cover letter, wear nice clothes to the interview, good luck.” It would have been great to have the support of a good career coach.

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