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If your outplacement firm emphasizes writing your resume for you according to long accepted generic templates as a first step in your transition counseling, you are probably dealing with a firm that is out of date and out of touch.

As result of this advice, there are way too many candidates in the job market with all-purpose resumes and unfocused value messages who are seriously unprepared for interviewing. That’s not just me talking. Many of my colleagues in and out of healthcare feel the same way.

Many outplacement firms emphasize resume development and networking skills as key components of their package. Here is why I believe that is exactly the wrong approach:

    • An executive entering the job market cannot build an effective resume until they develop their value statement. The value statement is at the core of the candidate’s message. If the job applicant doesn’t understand that, the prettiest, most colorful resume in the world is not going to help them find a job. This is something most executives struggle with and they will need help crafting this foundational statement.
    • Most outplacement counselors provide a resume to the candidate as part of their package without bothering to explain that you cannot send the same resume to every job. Moreover, since the applicant did not build the document themselves, most executives are not emotionally connected with the contents. Here is how you can tell: in an interview they lack the top of mind awareness of key metrics and accomplishments. Their answers lack specificity without any concrete examples of strengths and/or relevant successes that will help the prospective employer see that the applicant is qualified to solve their challenges.
    • Networking will not get you a job. Networking is important. I have been preaching that gospel for more than 25 years, but it is not the silver bullet many would have you believe. Some outplacement consultants spend an inordinate amount of time discussing networking and far too little time helping the executive master the critical challenges of effective interviewing which is, more often than not, where applicants lose in the search process.
    • Recruiters are having to interview more candidates to find the three to seven applicants they are comfortable recommending to their client. They have to. With industry consolidation employers know they can be more selective, holding out for just the right mix of skills and record of performance on issues that are important to them. Clients that I have spoken with say the pretty resume is important but its significance pales in comparison to the candidate’s ability to succinctly define their value (skills) and connect their relevant successes with job requirements.

Before you select an outplacement consultant, interview them. Ask who your consultant will be and how much experience/success they have had in your industry. Ask to see the summary of their approach, the order in which each component will be addressed and how much time will be spent on each of those components.