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Career Transition

12 April 2012


Career Transition

John Dakin, Directioneering

When are Career Transition services mostly used?

Organisations provide Career Transition (outplacement) services for individuals who are departing, usually as a result of a restructure and redundancy process. We must not underestimate the impact of job loss.

It is one of the most stressful situations that can happen to an individual, particularly in times of economic stress – such as we are currently experiencing. Losing a job can be a major blow to one’s self esteem and most people who lose a job will experience grief associated with the separation. Anger over job loss can be intensified if the termination is not handled sensitively. Providing career transition services helps to ensure that directly impacted individuals are treated fairly as they negotiate career change. Many remaining employees are also impacted by departures and knowing that their organisation has a culture of care for employees helps to ensure individuals remain positive and can decrease disruption to the business. Issues of unfavourable media exposure and potential discrimination or unfair dismissal claims can be managed more effectively through a fair termination process.

Who arranges these services?

Typically the head or director of human resources initiates contact with their Career Transition provider well ahead of the proposed restructure date. The HR team and the Career Transition provider then begin to plan the process to ensure as seamless a process as possible. Managers need to be trained in how to deliver a termination message effectively – with empathy and dignity. The business message must be clear and consistent at every level so that impacted individuals gain an unambiguous understanding of their situation and those remaining have a clear vision of their role in the new structure.

Perfect planning prevents poor delivery. Planning an effective restructuring exercise is complex and best approached with a detailed checklist, best broken down into:

Before the Announcement
Think about:

  • rationale for restructure;
  • roles impacted;
  • timing;
  • level of outplacement support;
  • manager training;
  • communication strategy;
  • room bookings;
  • frequently asked questions;
  • contingency plans;
  • documentation;
  • legal checks;
  • policies; and
  • security

On  The Announcement Day
Think about:

  • press release and communications strategy;
  • room set-up;
  • meeting schedule for managers and career transition consultants;
  • debriefing session; and team meeting agendas;

Post Announcement
Think about:

  • team re-focus strategy; and
  • farewells

How Career Transition Services are provided

Typically, consultants from the Career Transition provider will be on site to meet immediately with those who have been just had the news of their retrenchment communicated. While it may seem an imposition to have a provider organisation attending, there are several good reasons for providing this support. A retrenched employee will often be more open with an external consultant when talking about their personal situation. The focus of this meeting is to help the employee begin to focus on the future, by discussing their well-being and how they will communicate job loss to their family.

Ideally, the retrenched employee will be able to attend the Career Transition facility within a day or two of getting the news. A good provider will offer a dedicated, high quality consultant with that rare mix of empathy and practicality, who will work with the candidate through the ambiguity of job loss and assist them to adjust to change. The ability of the consultant to build a trusting relationship with the individual is vital for a successful transition.

Assessments of motivators, interests, values and work/life balance should be carried out before the candidate sets clear targets for long term career and immediate job targets. They also need to be aware of what makes an effective marketer as they approach the professional and hidden job markets – this will include effective, professional resumes, using different styles for different opportunities, and increasingly, the need for a focused LinkedIn profile. When interviewing, the candidate must be comfortable articulating goals, style, achievements and the reason for retrenchment – knowing what to say and how to say it is a vital skill and is best honed by undertaking video interview training. Managing referees is a key skill to be learned.

Another key to successful Career Transition is good research. Candidates need to be trained in how to research using social media and should be given access to high quality research facilities. More senior candidates are best served by having access to individual research services by a dedicated consultant.

One of the things that people miss most after retrenchment is the structure of the working day. The Career Transition provider should give them access to efficient office facilities in a high energy, positive environment where they have access to all services and may join in seminars and have the opportunity to network regularly.

How does Career Transition differ from standard recruitment practices?

When an individual is retrenched the initial reaction is most frequently that they need to find the same role with a similar organisation. This approach is one that most recruiters will follow as they are looking for the best fit for a role with their client and are therefore focusing on proven performers in similar environments.

Career Transition adopts a longer term view. When a person is retrenched he or she is facing change – the most effective way to manage that change is to ensure that it will work over time. Sometimes, going into the same role with a similar organisation may not be possible, or alternatively, it could be the wrong move if it doesn’t enable future progression. A good Career Transition service will encourage discussions about possible different styles of work, such as portfolio, consulting or starting one’s own business – thereby opening up possibilities for the individual, rather than consigning them to more of the same.

About John Dakin, Director at Directioneering

John has worked in career management since 1996 with Australian and international career transition firms. He works with senior candidates from all sectors and has project managed many downsizing exercises.

John joined Directioneering as a Director three months after its inception. Prior to working in the human resources area John spent over twenty years in the education sector as a teacher in Australia and the United Kingdom and then in school management. He has a Degree in Earth Sciences, a Masters in Education Administration and has completed studies in Coaching from the Jansen Newman Institute. John served on the Board of the Royal Rehabilitation Centre, Sydney and was Chairman of its Foundation.

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