Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Executive Outplacement: A Suite Deal

Like the dollar, executive outplacement has declined in value.

Started in the early 1970's as a corporate-sponsored career transition service solely for executives, companies put a premium on the quality, integrity and experience of the career coaches who would be advising and guiding their key people. Most had their exiting execs interview coaches from various firms to select the one they were most confident in.

That all changed when outplacement was made available to all levels of employees. It became commodotized.

Volume discounts resulted. Instead of allowing executives to interview and select a career coach, companies inked deals with a single firm guaranteeing the lowest prices. Makes sense from a business perspective.

On the other side, to stay fiscally viable, the major outplacement firms had to cut costs. Office facilities required to house outplacement candidates were fixed expenses that needed to be maintained, however professional services could be reduced ... and were. With the advent of questionably effective webinars, e-learnings and online job banks, fewer coaches seeing more candidates saved money. Also makes sense from a business perspective.

That's the skinny on how executive outplacement morphed into little more than a suite deal.

Fine for some folks, but if you want a career coach who can get you to the next phase, one that you are confident can advise, counsel and guide you, then it's up to you to take the initiative.

First, interview the coach assigned to you.

What is their background, their training? Do they know your profession, your industry? Have they worked with people in similar situations? What results have they obtained? If you’re not satisfied with the answers or the chemistry, ask to meet with another coach.

Second, find out how much time you will have with your personal career coach.

Does it seem adequate to you? How big is their current caseload? How will emergency questions be handled? Will they be available when you most need assistance? Can they envision alternative scenarios for your job search when one path closes?

Third, ask about multiple job campaigns.

The best searches have at least two and sometimes three distinct, simultaneous campaigns. Can your coach help you map out geographical, industry or functional options that could impact your search? What about entrepreneurial possibilities or consulting?

Fourth, learn about the firm’s resources.

How extensive and current are the databases? Do they provide names, titles, email addresses and other contact information? How is their research capability? Can they tell you which small firms in your industry are growing fastest and the reasons for that growth?

Fifth, inquire about contacts.

Will they be able to truly help you network into top search firms? Can they provide leads to decision-makers or other knowledgeable third party sources?

If, after going through these five steps, you’re dissatisfied with what you’ve learned, consider going back to your former employer to share that feedback. Ask if you can apply the outplacement fee to another provider and if yes, go out and find one.

Unlike the large, institutionalized outplacement firms, many top executive career coaches have substituted smart career strategizing, hands-on networking and personalized campaign management, for the "suite deal"

In an era when business transactions can be conducted via personal laptops, cell phones, Blackberries, RSS feeds, Google alerts and text messaging, today’s out-of-work executives don't require a high-tech outplacement facility ... what they need is the "Euro" equivalent of executive outplacement to add value to their careers.

11 comments:

Jeff M. said...

A suite deal would have been better than my outplacement experience. I was given a 8'x8' cubicle for 3 months and a coach to help me write my resume. My resume was better without her. I went to seminars that were a rehash of info already on the internet. They had networking sessions every week where most of the time all that went on was complaining. I never got a lead from it. I went there for two weeks before I got disgusted with the whole thing and never went back. It was a waste.

Anonymous said...

Outplacement is a severance benefit and is based on the company's legal obligation. Whether or not the individual secures another job is irrelevant.

PT said...

How is it a legal obligation? I didn't get it when I was fired.

jeninct said...

It might be a legal obligation if you have large numbers affected like General Motors today which will hurt all of Detroit. Also if it was negotiated in advance, the company would have to honor it.

Anonymous said...

Outplacement is just like the word says --- placing out.

Its like your a dog being put in the dog house so you wont mess up the house.

I got outplacement from two companies and it was useless. I got new jobs both times on my own.

exvp said...

Hey it looks like you guys had bad outplacement. Mine is great. Ive got free coffee all day long and people to bs with. Last monday, we got bagels and muffins while someone lectured us. I make a lot of phone calls on someone elses dime, play on the computer, read a lot of magazines I don't get at home. I got a 1 year severance package earning interest and the job market sucks now so its a good place to hang out until things open up. This executive outplacement really is a suite deal. Enjoy it and good luck to everyone!

kc50 said...

exvp - interesting. i thought executive outplacement was supposed to help you get another job. didn't know it was a table at starbucks. can you get low-fat latte?

NYer1969 said...

Funny thread. Outplacement can be a hit or miss. The questions on the blog are good.

JohnL. said...

If you dont want outplacement, suggest you negotiate with the company for the cash.

Anonymous said...

When it's all said and done the outplacement experience is very much dependent upon the personal attention one can get to truly be an invaluable resource or a waste of time. The bigger the firm, the smaller the service in most cases.

With an exceptional, passionate and insightful career transition coach and quality tools made available by the best outplacement firms, the experience can result in a significantly higher level of success.

Anonymous said...

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- Henry

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