Outplacement is a service that companies provide to employees they dismiss or lay off. Depending on the outplacement service provider, it can range from the creation of a stock, one-size-fits-all resume and some telephone coaching calls, up to 90 days of consultation and support.
By and large, outplacement, like recruiting, is transactional. There is a contract that specifies terms and conditions and, most importantly, limits on the amount of time the outplacement coach will devote to helping you through this traumatic time.
Some of the biggest named firms offer the least amount of support. Without fail, every candidate I have interviewed that was referred to one of the national firms said they were unimpressed and received very little from the experience. Recently, I spoke with one highly regarded CEO who was ambushed by a “pre-existing condition.” He opted to ask for severance based on the conduct of the organization. His health system referred him to one of the national “elite” firms. When I talked with him, 30 or so days into his outplacement plan, he was woefully unprepared for our conversation which I began with, “What happened?” Apparently the firm had not bothered to coach their client in what to say when this critical issue came up.
Sadly, his former employer probably got more satisfaction from the knowledge that they used a national outplacement firm than the executive actually received from the expert’s advice.
In Tuesday’s post, we addressed the issue of resurrecting a career. Many of the most commonly known outplacement consultants are not experienced in this career management subspecialty. It is complicated. Primarily their standard agreements do not allow for an adequate amount of research, strategy development, education and support, to help an executive in a meaningful way. Redeeming an executive’s career can take six to 18 months, a lot of hard work, coaching and hand-holding. And much compassion. But it is important work and it is among the most rewarding things that I do.
Career redemption is not transactional work. This is not something that fits into a basic outplacement engagement template. It takes a team approach, and that is what we do best. It takes patience and ever optimistic coaches who have an unlimited ability to care.
Not every career mistake is recoverable but it is important to know that most are.
It is also important to know that most PR crisis management firms are ill-equipped to deal with this type of situation. They can help you manage the public mess until you are out the door. If you have contaminated medications or if you botch your role in a global health crisis, there are firms that are expert in this type of crisis management. But when it comes to helping executives navigate their way to resurrecting their career from a job error, well the list gets much smaller in a hurry because crisis management firms lack career management and recruiting expertise. There is not as much money in that practice.
If you are an executive who has suffered a mis-step and you find yourself looking for career redemption, unless your action triggered a “for cause” termination, you need to negotiate hard for the type of career transition support that will help you find your way back to a seat at the table. It is more costly than a standard outplacement agreement but it can be career saving for an executive.
Redemption is not a transaction. It is transformative.
Join us on Saturday morning for the release of our career management video — Important questions physicians should ask when they are being recruited. You can subscribe on our YouTube channel page.
© 2020 John Gregory Self