Career Transition Update
Robyn Webb, Pohlen Kean Career Transition consultant speaks to the NZ Herald about the benefits of outplacement programmes to employers and employees.
Published in The New Zealand Herald, 25 July 2009
Transition help offers lifeline when axe falls
What is career transition and how is it beneficial?
Career transition supports employees at a time of exiting an organisation, whether as an outcome of a position becoming redundant, or possibly as a result of a performance management process. Also referred to as outplacement, it needs an effective transition programme that is customised to meet unique requirements, recognising individuals have differing needs and businesses have budget considerations.
Employers - why offer support?
Offering employees a transition programme is a positive and tangible way to support your employees through a period of change, ensuring affected people feel respected and valued as they leave the organisation. Remaining employees recognise your commitment to their departing colleague(s), contributing to a positive employer brand and enhancing team morale. The head of human resources of a global business adds: "Outplacement support sends a strong message to employees that, even though business changes have meant job losses, the business continues to offer support. Remaining employees have a level of comfort knowing that outgoing employees have been well treated throughout the process, reducing potential feelings of 'guilt' for people with continuing employment."
Whereas some providers follow a set programme format, maximum benefit will be gained by the participant if both the programme and the consultant allow flexibility, to ensure that content is relevant, up to date and practical. Some participants require minimal guidance from their consultant - perhaps a review of their CV, some interview tips and up-to-date market information. For others, a more comprehensive programme is appropriate, offering a broader review of career achievements and aspirations, perhaps incorporating personality assessments to enhance decisions or to realistically explore alternative options, such as self-employment. Whatever the chosen programme, participants should be encouraged to clearly identify their objectives and be empowered to recognise and target new opportunities.
Employees - why accept the support?
Considering the large component of our lives focused on our employment, it is hardly surprising that, at a time of job loss, the impact can be severe, even if the change has been anticipated and the reasons understood. Although in the current economic climate there is far less stigma associated with redundancy, people are affected in different ways. In addition to the obvious financial implication, there are other areas where an independent and confidential "sounding board", separate from family and friends, can provide an opportunity for acknowledging concerns, implementing positive strategies and "brainstorming" ideas. A personal perspective is offered from two people who have engaged in career transition programmes.
I would recommend taking advantage of an outplacement programme. Recently redundant, and after the initial shock waves settled, I found it provided me with an invaluable, independent outlet to get me back on track and focused on my marketability and transferable skills, of which I was not fully aware. Whilst family and friends can be helpful, they didn't necessarily have the expertise to provide constructive, relevant employment advice. My adviser was really helpful in finding out what I truly wanted out of a job and then how to go about getting it. We went through my CV and made improvements to its tone and order to make it more powerful and attention grabbing. All through my later job search, my adviser was invaluable in providing advice as well as a sounding board during my decision process. I would recommend career transition services to anyone wanting an edge during the tough job hunt.
Critically, a period of transition allows for a process of adjustment - reaction to the situation, sharing of frustrations and consideration of alternatives. If you are experiencing change through redundancy, you may well be confident of your CV, your networking techniques and your interview skills. However, if a programme of support is offered, consider the immediate and long-term value of investing time in yourself - time to reflect, to challenge and re-evaluate your objectives and values, to recognise opportunities and to determine your preferences for future career choices. Take advantage of the opportunity, accept the programme offered, then partner with your consultant to ensure you gain maximum benefit.