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“Downsizing” is a term we’ve heard all too often over the past six years. An unfortunate byproduct of tough economic times, displaced workers seem to be a consistent demographic in the U.S. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that “from January 2011 through December 2013, 4.3 million workers were displaced from jobs they had held for at least 3 years.”
But, if you know me, you have probably figured out that I generally don’t share negative news. (I was born and raised at Disney, for G-d sakes!) So, here’s the silver lining. Many companies are electing to offer outplacement services to displaced workers to smooth their transition and make the exit a compassionate one.
If this term is new to you, “outplacement” is a service that is paid for by your company that can include interview coaching, resume writing, group counseling and even assessments to help you discover your next career move.
At The Career Strategy Group, we work with tons of DC-based organizations in the midst of a layoff or downsizing, but not every employee takes outplacement services when they are offered. Still, to this day, this baffles me. So, let’s talk about this: if you’re a casualty of reduction-in-force and you’re offered outplacement services,should you take them?
Well, the short answer is absolutely!! But, for the skeptics, let’s take a look at why.
Outplacement is complimentary (to you the job seeker)
First and foremost, your (previous) employer picks up the outplacement tab. Most companies that face a reduction-in-force want to do right by the employees who loyally served them. (And maybe alleviate a bit of guilt too. It’s likely a combination of the two.) This is career support “on the house.” So, while you may be angry, depressed, frustrated (all very common feelings, by all means) taking the help does not mean that you need to use it that very moment. In fact, with our firm, job seekers get up to a full year to use the services. So, if you need time, take it! (But, take the outplacement services if they offered, too, while you’re at it.)
Outplacement services promote resiliency
Job loss is arguably stressful and difficult. Psychology Today says that job loss can lead to anxiety, depression and worse. But when your company offers outplacement services, you have the opportunity to deflect those symptoms and reroute to a more focused future. Along with outplacement comes the invaluable gift of productive distraction. Instead of entering panic mode, you’ll be able to center your energy on becoming more employable and focus your time on your next calculated step.
For a moment, let’s imagine your future after a layoff. It could go one of two ways:
- If you are offered outplacement that you do not accept, you’ll be unemployed, searching for a job, and unsure if your (possibly haphazard) approach is working. You’ll need to update your resume on your own, enlist a friend who has some free time to help, or or hire it out (on your dime, of course) and hope for the best. You’ll need to practice your interview skills in the bathroom mirror (without the support of a coach to offer feedback) and spend countless hours applying for job after job online.
- If you do participate, you’ll have seasoned pros at your side to keep you on track, coach you through all of the job-searching difficulties that are bound to show up, and help you land a job faster.
Outplacement coaches can help you learn how to grow your network
When you’re looking for a job, there are fewer things more valuable than learning how to create and cultivate a good network. And your coaching team will be able to teach you how to spend your time effectively, grow your own network, and leverage your connections to find your next fit. And a good outplacement coach will help you measure the quality of your network too (so you’re not wasting your time).
The bottom line is that the entire purpose of an outplacement firm is to help displaced workers with their career transition. If your company offers it, you owe it to yourself to see what it’s all about!