Outplacement is a step-by-step process to help departing employees find
another job. This article is directed toward those receiving company-paid
outplacement, but it will help you to work with almost any career advisor
you might have.
Your Consultant's Reality
Outplacement consultants are usually very busy, because they have several
roles to fill:
Group Leader, and
Staff Marketing Person.
Consultants also have to sell their company's services.
This makes them a job-hunter, just like you.
In addition, your counselor may be working with as many as 15-50 other
job candidates. This means he or she could be spread very thin. Still,
he or she will be very interested in you and in your success.
The Client's Reality
The client is often shocked and dazed at having lost a job suddenly.
He or she is looking for help and direction and is willing to trust the
career planner's expertise, at least in the beginning. The client is often
feeling vulnerable and time-pressured and wants to see immediate results.
The Consultant's Role
Newcomers to outplacement often wrongly believe that the outplacement
advisor will get them interviews or find them a job.
Actually, the consultant's role is to motivate and stimulate, to ask
the right questions (the hard ones), and to lend emotional support. To
be a catalyst, to help you generate options, and to keep you unstuck. To
help you clarify, to connect you with community resources and to lend job-search
expertise. That's all.
In truth, this is your job-search, and in the final analysis you are
going to have to do a lot of it alone. The consultant will help you, but
you will have to make many things happen for yourself.
The Client's Role
You can have a very big impact on the outcomes of your program by your
attitude. I have seen it happen every time. The harder you work at it,
the sooner you get positive results. Nothing new about that.
As a client your role is to complete homework assignments on time, to
keep productively busy, to keep the consultant informed, and to take the
Two Types of Clients
There are generally two kinds of clients: those who go with the process
and those who resist it.
Rick Wilson, the President of a large national bank, was terminated
and refused to office in our complex. Instead, he leased his own space for
$1,800 per month. He wrote and e-mailed a four-page resume with six pages
of supplementary accomplishments. We advised him to shorten his materials,
but he discounted everything we said.
Rick radiated negativity and barked order to the secretaries. The office
staff called him "General". He seemed to be in his own little
world and nothing we could say or do affected him. Because Rick did not
allow us to help him, he is still unemployed.
Tim Child took the opposite approach. He welcomed the outplacement experience
and wanted to do everything in the detail. When I asked him to list the
things he liked and disliked about past jobs, he wrote 13 pages.
After getting started himself, Tim acted as unofficial career consultant
to other clients in the complex, helping them with letters, resumes and
networking. The day we moved to a new office, he showed up in blue jeans
to help us pack.
After six months of immersing himself in process, Tim accepted one of
three job offers. When it didn't pan out, he used the outplacement technologies
to start a national management consulting firm.
Things to Do
Things To Avoid
Do take full advantage of the outplacement opportunity. Immerse yourself
in it, if possible.
- Do ask what is included in your program-and what is excluded.
- Do involve your spouse if he or she would be willing.
- Do set a rigorous schedule for yourself, and follow it. Keep the
- Do your homework assignments. Don't waste counseling time completing
homework you should have done on your own.
- Do the exercises wholeheartedly, even if you don't understand what
they are for or why they will help. Sometimes we don't know the benefit
of an exercise until after it is completed.
- Do trust the consultant as much as you can. Most likely, he or she
has been through this many times before.
- Do make your thoughts, feelings and ideas known. Don't keep things
- Do express your upsets in the counselor's office. Don't vent negative
feelings on your family at home.
- Do keep your consultant informed about your progress and any important
- Do call the consultant, don't wait for the consultant to call you.
- Do be assertive. Ask for what you want and need. Be clear and specific
(but there's no need to blow up).
- Do socialize with the other clients and counselors in the office.
- Do meet frequently with your advisor. After the first two weeks,
about one hour per week is usual.
- Do make and keep appointments (expect the consultant to be on time too).
- Do plan your meetings with your counselor. Make them fruitful, not
- Do prepare a list for your meetings. Bring specific questions requiring
- Do bring every ounce of optimism to the surface. Radiate a smile,
if you can.
- Do take action. Don't wait for others around you to do something.
Do something yourself.
- Do trust the process. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. Trust
that it will end successfully for you.
- Don't make a pest of yourself.
- Don't corner the consultant every time a questions pops into your
mind. Try to collect your questions and have them answered in one sitting.
- Don't try to skip steps or rush things. You'll make matters worse.
- Don't allow yourself too much free time. Too much free time tends
to breed anxiety.
- Don't hound the administrative assistants for your paperwork. Except in emergencies, a 24-hour turnaround time is considered excellent.
- Don't attack your consultant. It isn't his or her fault you're still
unemployed. The consultant is on your team. Remember?
- Don't beat yourself up. When things go wrong, we have a tendency
to attack ourselves. Don't do it.
- Don't assume your counselor can read your mink. Ask for what you want.
- Don't waste your advisor's time, or your own.
- Don't expect the consultant to know everything. He or she won't or can't.
- Don't complain to your former company about your consultant. Address
the person face-to-face and deal with the issues head-on.
- Don't expect overnight success. Rule of thumb: one month of job-search
for each $10K in salary. Thus, twelve months for a $120,000 job.
- Last of all, don't panic. The outplacement process works for everyone.
It will work for you too. | Return to index of articles.