OUTPLACEMENT SERVICES -- THE RIGHT CHOICE OR CONSUMER CON?
PRINCETON, N.J., Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The outplacement industry is currently under heavy media fire, as prominent business publications uncover a growing number of dissatisfied clients.
Already casualties of the recession, these managers may feel doubly victimized when the outplacement services prove to be less than promised. They claim that they or, more often, their employers, spent thousands of dollars for job counseling services that provided little more than limited office space and use of a telephone. They also point to problems with absentee or unqualified counselors, rigid policies, hidden charges, unkept promises and problems in obtaining adequate secretarial and research services.
A Consumer Issue
"Admittedly, the practices of a few unproductive outplacement firms prompted most of these complaints," said Phyllis Macklin an expert in outplacement and career management, and founding member of the National Association of Career Development Consultants (NACDC). "And, many usually competent firms have simply been overwhelmed by the unprecedented volume of white collar workers undergoing outplacement," she noted.
Consequently, individuals and companies are wary of investing in outplacement. "That's unfortunate," Macklin said. "A professionally planned job search can pay major dividends to both the terminated employee and the employer. But, as in making any other purchase, it's important to be an informed consumer."
Finding the Right Firm
What should companies and executives look for in choosing an outplacement service? "Traditionally these firms provided office space, secretarial services and hand holding for executives who lost their jobs," Macklin said. But in today's competitive job market, that's no longer enough. According to Macklin, an effective career management firm will provide more than a business address, secretarial services and basic counseling. In today's environment, clients need an aggressive, market-oriented approach that covers all aspects of a job search -- resume and letter writing, research, image development, interview training, networking, salary negotiation and even help in dealing with the impact the job loss has on the family.
The process should begin with an in-depth assessment of the individual's skills, employment history, patterns of success and failure, goals, likes/dislikes, potential job search liabilities, interests, personal values, lifestyle and family and income needs.
To speed the search, the firm's research department should investigate recruiters, companies, organizations and institutions which meet the client's criteria in terms of size, location, industry, marketplace and product. The staff should provide this information to the client and write all resumes and individual marketing letters to these target companies.
How can you be sure an outplacement firm provides these services in an ethical and concerned manner? "Look closely at the company's track record -- the state Attorney General's office and the Better Business Bureau can tell you if any complaints have been logged against the firm," Macklin advised. Check the credentials of its personnel, talk to current and former clients, and carefully review the services the firm provides. Those services should include adequate office space, support services and computerized research facilities. Beware of rigid policies that limit client access to counselors and support services. Most important, get a detailed proposal of all services and fees in writing.
What You Should Expect from an Outplacement Firm
Minsuk, Macklin, Stein & Associates, where Macklin is a founding partner, offers these guidelines to choosing an outplacement firm:
1. Professional, dignified and caring treatment
2. Timely handling of your projects
3. A clear outline of the services provided and the time in which they will be available
4. Easy access to a qualified consultant throughout the job search
5. The following minimum services should be provided:
-- Writing and preparation of a professional resume and cover letters
-- Customized research services to provide the data you need
-- Consultation and guidance in setting meaningful career goals
-- Counseling for your spouse in dealing with the changing employment situation
-- Guidance in effective job search techniques, networking, telephone skills, interviewing, and projecting a professional image
-- Guidance on job offers, salary negotiations and appropriateness of job offer
-- Once a new job is found, advice on making a successful start in the new position
To obtain a complimentary copy of these guidelines, send a stamped, self-addressed envelop to Minsuk, Macklin, Stein & Associates, 14 Washington Rd., Princeton Junction, N.J., 08550.
/CONTACT: Anne Sweeney of Anne Sweeney Public Relations, 908-274-2994, for Minsuk, Macklin, Stein & Associates/ CO: Minsuk, Macklin, Stein & Associates ST: New Jersey IN: SU: SM-CK -- NY067 -- 0082 01/15/92 14:54 EST