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Stuart O'Reilly

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The Changing Face of Outplacement

Historically, the industry formerly labelled as ‘the outplacement industry’ would parachute into a corporate war zone, apply first aid, carry away the wounded, support and restore them and send them back to the front line. This generally involved helping people to find a similar job in a similar organisation.  Redundancy was often viewed as a ‘one off’ and once back in work people could stop thinking about the job marketplace or career management and get on with being loyal to their new employers.  However times have changed. Redundancy is commonplace; job changes are inevitable (recent studies suggest that today’s graduates will have 7 - 10 jobs in their working lives) and the stigma of redundancy has largely gone. Nevertheless, despite the ubiquitous presence of job loss, the emotional impact remains very real and the nature of the support needs to be different to address contemporary needs.

The traditional model of ‘outplacement’ therefore no longer fits. However we believe the market is responding in the wrong way. Whilst the large providers are going down the route of providing essentially group, online and telephone based support, we, at Wickland Westcott,  have strongly and strategically resisted this trend with great success, maintaining a focus on providing personal, tailored support from experts that is more in keeping with what people want and need. Our premium Career Strategy service takes this one step further.  This programme has been designed to help senior individuals to proactively take control of their careers rather than letting fate dictate their direction.

The changing nature and uncertainty of the economy and constant technological revolution means that help now needs to be hyper-flexible and personal – so ‘laundry lists’  of process and actions, and the old staples of CV writing and cover letters are becoming outmoded.  Increasingly, web savvy, mobile executives who know their sector and who have changed jobs many times, no longer need the old tools – they now need sophisticated,  bespoke help often concentrating on personal branding, the concept of ‘Me Unlimited’ and support to navigate the advantages and pitfalls of social media networks.

Organisations are increasingly calling upon the services of career consultants to help support individuals before job loss is necessary and enforced – thus helping people to retain control, dignity and pride and to leave the organisation as positive ambassadors of their erstwhile employer.  Additionally as organisations increasingly invest in Executive Talent programmes they are faced with the challenge of needing to support high potential individuals bridge significant gaps between levels. Often the gaps identified within internal Executive Assessment campaigns relate the experiences that individuals have or haven’t had in their careers, highlighting again the need for organisations to provide such individuals with the tools to manage their careers. More and more people and organisations are realising the benefits, and embracing the idea of recommending a career coach in the same way you would an executive or personal coach.

For individuals, although the idea has been around for a while, it is becoming increasingly necessary to consider themselves as career activists – someone who is planning and preparing for a continually changing work/job/career landscape.  The standard interview question – “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” is now impossible to answer.  The biggest mistake is to rely on an employer for employment or career options: job security has gone, loyalty is no longer rewarded.  The key is to ensure that individuals future proof their careers by maintaining employability – seeking opportunities to enhance skills, keeping abreast of changing technologies, maintaining a vibrant and informed network, and by being bold.

Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. – Goethe

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