Making the most of outplacement services

If you are made redundant, your employer may well offer you ‘outplacement’ services as part of your redundancy package. Outplacement means support provided by a third party hired by your employer to help you get a new job. Typically, the outplacement company will provide you with a range of services that you can take advantage of. These may include:

  • Counselling or coaching support
  • CV writing and advice on job hunting and applications
  • A range of courses on things like networking, interviewing, presenting yourself, and how to make the most of your redundancy package
  • A neutral space away from your employers’ premises, equipped with telephones, computers and printers, in which to carry out your job search
  • Online advice and guidance on things like career planning

Getting value for money from outplacement services

Your employer may have negotiated a nominal ‘spend’ per employee (either in money or points), so you may have to choose what to spend your nominal budget on. The outplacement service may continue for several months but will be time-limited, so check the limitations before you make any choices.

If outplacement is an ‘option’ within your redundancy package, it could be that you are spending £1,000 or more that you could otherwise receive in cash, so think carefully about whether the advice and support is worth the money – sometimes it genuinely is, but sometimes you will know more than the advisors. If a previous cohort of employees has used the services, ask to be put in touch with one of them for some first-hand feedback, or look online for any comment about the outplacement company from others who’ve used them.

Choosing the outplacement support you need

Most people who have not been out of work for many years, when offered outplacement will instinctively go for help with their CV and with interviewing. This is what most people perceive as the most difficult aspect of finding a new job.

Before you make a firm decision on this, read the sections on this site on Your CV and Interviews just to get a feel for what’s needed. It may be that you don’t need as much support in this area as you thought.

Most outplacement companies will provide you with a list of courses you can attend. Courses are ‘cheap’ in outplacement budget terms, because they are provided for a group, so you’re only paying a part-share of the cost. This can make them good value. In choosing courses, consider the kind of job searcher you are, and what kind of job search you plan to carry out. You cannot do all the possible kinds of job searching at equal intensity, so make the outplacement services count most heavily in the kinds of job searching you intend to do.

If you have lots of personal and professional connections in your address book but have no idea how to approach them for help in your job search, consider a course on networking. If there are workshops on how to present yourself, ask friends or family whose personal style you admire to assess your style, and tell you whether you might benefit from this (it can be a real eye-opener).

Tip: toward the end of the outplacement contract, your employer may be aware that not everyone has taken up and used all of their outplacement ‘budget’. It is worth checking with HR to see if there is contracted budget that still needs to be used up, as your employer will want to see it used rather than lose it.

The individual counselling and coaching outplacement companies offer can be useful if you need help with positioning yourself in the job market, are considering a career transition or are struggling with the news that you are to lose your job. It may also be useful if you fear that you may lose motivation or confidence before you find another job.Typically, the company will make an effort to match you with a counsellor who has a similar background or has made a similar transition to the one you are considering.

If you are not fazed by your redundancy, and are certain of what you want to do, confident in your skills and relatively self-motivated, counselling may prove disappointing.

What an outplacement service will almost certainly not do for you is the actual activity of job searching. They will not find vacancies for you to apply for (although they may have some useful contacts within recruitment agencies). Many people are surprised that they do not get this kind of individualised personal support, but outplacement companies are typically not measured on how many jobs their candidates get.