Is Outplacement Outdated?


The term outplacement was first used over 50 years ago to describe a graceful solution to the nasty task of firing people. While Bernard Haldane may have had the first formal practice, right after WWII, in advising people looking for their next job or career, it wasn’t until the ’70s and ’80s companies subscribed to offering the service to most departing employees. It was “the right thing to do” but more accurately it placated departing employees while it was thought to help maintain a company’s reputation among current employees and their hiring communities. It also helped mitigate legal action departing employees might be inclined to pursue.

Departing professionals, managers and executives going through the current outplacement process see less value because budgets have been cut to the bone. This is unfortunate as it takes longer to find a new position and many people need guidance in how to shift industries not just finding job listings. Outplacement services have shifted to a mass market approach using Internet and group delivery at the risk of uncovering new solutions. Specifically:

1. Shrinking Programs. The services once provided have been shrunk due to cost-cutting, plain and simple. A manager with mid-range compensation may spend well over a year in a job search, but to give that manager a program valued at a few thousand dollars is incomprehensible. In some cases senior professionals are given little more than resume advice and access to Webinar recordings.

2. 30 Year Old Practices. The combination of services established years ago as the outplacement service model has not changed. Assessments, resume editing, access to databases, use of office space and group sessions are the norm. Job seekers today are well versed on a plethora of job-career sites with Internet access available everywhere by phone, iPad or computer. An easy way to cut the costs of customized outplacement has been assemble groups for discussions, venting and sharing job leads. A good mass market solution but ineffective for many deserving one-on-one assistance.

PREMIUM CONTENT: 2013 List of Largest U.S. Outplacement Firms

Meanwhile some amazing new sources and approaches have come on the scene delivering results beyond current outplacement programs:

1. Relationship Science. Networking was never the only way to find the next job but opens deeper connections beyond any ones expectations. can be effective in helping managers, executives and even CEOs uncover hidden sources, organizations and introductions. Months of digging can often be cut to a few minutes going way beyond LinkedIn.

2. CEO Forum. When job searchers join active top level groups they remain in the flow of what is going on. For those qualified such organizations when included in the outplacement package add valuable content and contacts. Providing a forum with people in top positions and in the flow has much greater value than with those looking for a job. Membership in CEO Forum and top business school groups is included in our top executive transitioning programs.

3. Transition Coaching. Executive-level coaches can keep job searchers “in the game,” but also fully focused and motivated. The AMA surveys show almost half of participating companies use coaching to prepare individuals for a promotion or new role. While half of all companies provide coaches to midlevel or senior staff. When those professionals look for their next position they expect top coaching direction not just empathy or access to internet sites. And they want it on a weekly basis. Transition coaching will martial assets, package them, create a better presence and find new possibilities. A professional stature program of outreach with Internet presence, speeches and white papers can also enhance hiring prospects.

A whole new restructuring of professional outplacement programs may take place in the future, but at this time the combination of services such as RelSci, CEO Trust and Transition Coaching are ahead of the game and may help define what can be done in the future.

MORE: Traditional vs. Next-Gen Outplacement


Charles Moldenhauer

Charles Moldenhauer
Charles Moldenhauer is founder of ExecutiveTransitioning LLC focused on outplacement for executives, managers and professionals. He has been a consultant in New York for 25 years.

Charles Moldenhauer

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