After working in outplacement for decades, I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in outplacement. Here are a few things to consider when offered outplacement.
Don’t sign yet. Review the package.
Outplacement can vary widely in terms of program length, severance payments, the types of tools and services provided, including access to coaching, professional writers, researchers, social media experts, and follow-up/accountability support.
Often, organizations understand that leaving your job comes requires some time to process the information and most companies are willing to let their departing employees have 24 hours (or more!) to review their options.
Ask if you can choose your own partner.
Some outplacement services are far better than others. Additionally, some people just don’t “click,” so there’s no harm in asking if you can select your own outplacement company, coach, career counselor, or resume writer.
Can I just ask for the cash?
Some like to ask for a cash payout in lieu of outplacement services. While some organizations offer this option, the outplacement services will most likely serve you better than the cash. The job search industry and hiring process evolves rapidly, so it is most likely in your best interests to find a partner to accelerate the process for you.
What if I don't like my options?
If you cannot select your own partner or accept cash and apply it towards the job search services that best fit your needs, I would advise that you accept the outplacement package and see what they have to offer. We don't know what we don't know and you might find yourself surprised by what you learn.
Additionally, do your own research and ask a LOT of questions to make sure their suggestions are right for you and your job search.
I’m not satisfied with the outcome of my outplacement program.
Outplacement can be a blessing and most likely will get the ball rolling on your search much more quickly than if you were left to your own devices. However, it can also fall short. If you find yourself unhappy with part (or all) of your outplacement services, you will want to figure out the gaps and do your best to fill them.
Potential Problem Areas:
Lackluster Resume — Some outplacement companies operate very similarly to a resume mill, populating work history into skimpy templates or sometimes even just making a few generic notes in the margins of your resume. Make sure your resume clearly articulates your target, breaks down your value offering, uses language that speaks to your next role, and offsets red flags like career gaps, long or short tenures, false starts, age discrimination (young and old), and more.
Zero / Overly General Coaching — While some job seekers can conduct their own research and self-motivate pretty well, most benefit from at least a little personal support. Whether venting their feelings in a safe environment or maintaining momentum due to periodic check-ins, support matters a great deal and dramatically improves the success of job searches.
Relying on Job Boards— Job boards can give you an indication of which companies have a budget for hiring, but limiting your search to job boards will severely limit your opportunities. Better to lean into your network, start conversations, ask for introductions, and start adding value to attract interest and offers. We see faster searches, higher offers, and better titles when job seekers build relationships and advocates instead of expecting an application to do the work for them.
Poor LinkedIn and Social Media Support — Your online presence should be analyzed and cleaned up if possible, making sure to avoid negative or divisive topics. LinkedIn and Social Media are sourced for candidates, so consider whether someone would want to bankroll the lifestyle you’ve posted about. Allow yourself to be viewed based on your expertise rather than a few ill-considered tweets or party posts. Social media channels can accelerate your search when your content feeds into your career path. You can demonstrate high EQ, your expertise, and a track record of success with well-crafted profiles and content.
More of the Same — Due to volume, many outplacement companies focus on career chronology and create content that invites more of the same. It’s easier to target a lateral move in the same industry, similar company size, etc. In the interest of finding a new position quickly, much of the content that comes out of outplacement firms is based on career chronology — what you’ve done before. This might not be what you want next. Consider carefully if your resume and LinkedIn profile speak to where you want to BE as opposed to where you’ve been.
If you have diagnosed any of these issues with your outplacement services, consider the following options:
Find free resources or invest in the coach, resume writer, or LinkedIn expert of your choice. When you personally select a partner, you are better equipped to find the solution that best meets your needs. There are resources and partners at all cost brackets.
Read content from job search experts and decide what makes sense for your challenges, your industry, and your goals.
Build or reactivate your network. Create a cadence of outreach that works well for your schedule. It takes times for leads to come to fruition, so start laying the foundation now.
Track your activity and outcomes to diagnose what works for you and what you have learned throughout your search. It is tough to maintain momentum, so this can be very helpful to show progress and recalibrate as needed.
Now you can make more informed choices about your outplacement services to steer a more effective job search!
If you're unhappy with your outplacement resume and don't have the budget for one-on-one, custom resume development, consider this comprehensive and cost-effective guide to revising your outplacement resume: