Top tips on selecting an outplacement company
If you are leaving your company, whether it is as a result of redundancy or an agreed parting of the ways, then a outplacement services can be of great benefit in supporting your transition into a new job.
What is outplacement?
Outplacement services typically include help exploring your career options, devising your CV, interview preparation and job search strategies. Networking opportunities and information resources may also be provided.
In a job market where employers are spoilt for choice, working with an outplacement company can make the fundamental difference between getting the job offer you want or failing to even get on the shortlist.
Advantages of asking your employer to arrange outplacement?
Some organisations will include outplacement services as part of an individual’s leaving package. They will either arrange it directly for the individual or allow the individual to spend the allocated money with the outplacement provider of their choice.
If you are about to leave your organisation, it is important to note that there are important financial advantages to you if your outplacement is processed through the company rather than organised separately by you. Outplacement provided as part of your redundancy agreement is tax-free, If you pay directly out of your own pocket then you lose the tax advantage, plus you will be charged VAT which is reclaimable by companies but not by private individuals.
For example, on a £4000 outplacement service, a 40% tax payer could save the equivalent of almost £2000 if outplacement is provided via the company rather than paid directly by the individual.
This means that even if your company is not able to provide additional monies for outplacement, it is financially advantageous for you to ask them to process the payment even if they deduct the ex-VAT price from your final salary.
How to choose an outplacement company?
Here is some advice on what to look for:
Ask around to see if anyone you know has a recommendation for a company to use. Organisations like your professional institute or other trusted authorities eg http://jobs.telegraph.co.uk/ may also have recommendations. Make sure that the outplacement company also follows a recognised Code of Practice such as the CIPD’s.
Think about the career support you need
Discuss with the outplacement company the things you would like help and support with. Some companies are stronger in some areas than others e.g. some will focus mainly on providing a CV writing service, while others offer more of a career management service with a full career assessment and review as well as practical job search support.
Compare and contrast
Check out at least 2 to 3 companies so that you can draw comparisons. Look through their websites and telephone them for more information. Go visit the ones that sound suitable. Most reputable outplacement companies offer a free initial meeting. At the meeting ask about the coaching, training and resources available to you. How would your outplacement programme be structured? Do they have on-line resources or a research facility that you can use? Are there networking opportunities? This is an excellent opportunity to ask questions and gauge whether this company provides what you are looking for. You’ll start to get a flavour of the company as well as key information about the services on offer and their customer profile.
Check the credentials of the coaching team and the coach you will be working with. They should have a minimum of the following:
- Substantial experience of working as an outplacement or career coach
- Expert and up to date knowledge of recruitment and job-searching
- High level coaching qualifications preferably in career coaching experience of working at a senior level within an organisation
Ask how a coach will be selected for you. Is it just who happens to be available on the day you turn up or is there careful matching being undertaken? Ensure that there is the possibility to change your coach if you don’t hit it off.
Make sure that you are crystal clear about the services that are being provided, the costs, the venue, any time limits or restrictions, what is included and what is not.
This should be confirmed in a written contract which you should read through carefully before signing. Unfortunately there are a small number of companies who are known to use high pressure sales tactics. These tactics can include flattery, cast-iron guarantees of success, evasiveness about price, even intimidation. Fortunately it is easy to find many companies who operate in an ethical way.
So, unless you are absolutely sure you wish to proceed, always give yourself some clear thinking time outside of the meeting to consider your decision and any further questions you may want to ask before going ahead.
Outplacement can be of significant help in achieving a smooth transition into your next role. Hopefully the above advice will be of benefit when choosing your outplacement provider.