As a veteran of the outplacement field for over 15 years now, I’ve had a ringside seat in observing both the best and worst practices of the industry — and seeing how the services of various outplacement firms have kept pace with the times and provided real value (or not) in terms of helping individuals impacted by corporate layoffs.

From my own self-interested standpoint, admittedly, I’ve trumpeted the notion that “not all outplacement firms are created equal” and that many companies, and HR professionals, should exercise far more caution in the purchasing process to ensure they get real value for their dollar.  Far too many firms, in my opinion, have been gotten away with murder over the years by providing lackluster service for outrageous sums of money.  I’m contacted frequently by executives, in fact, who have recently received a $10-15,000 outplacement package from their past employer — but are now seeking to pay out of their own pocket for resume help and job hunting assistance!  This is shameful.  For that amount of money, these firms should be writing these peoples’ resumes on gold leaf and personally chauffeuring them to every single interview they line up…

So given that I’ve been something of a lone voice in the wilderness on this issue for years, I can’t tell you how happy I was to discover that a source no less reputable than the Wall Street Journal was validating my perspective in an article they published this very morning!  Even if you have no particular interest in the nitty-gritty details of the outplacement world, I think you’ll find the article below fascinating, entertaining, and provocative.  Take a few moments and give it a read:

Seriously, 60-person caseloads?  Boilerplate resume templates?  Providing only 4 hours of coaching in a one-month program, valued in the $2,500 to $5,000 price range?  Advising people not to order cranberry juice in a lunch interview, lest the interviewer suspect they have a bladder infection?  This is the stuff that drives me nuts.  Such delivery methods may not technically be criminal, but boy, are they unethical.

Provided properly, I believe outplacement can be a tremendous win/win both for the company and its departing employees, helping both sides move on and make a smooth transition into the future.  And I’m happy to report that there are plenty of quality outplacement firms around, both in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the globe.  But more and more providers, I’m afraid to say, are cutting corners and exhibiting some of the laughably bad behaviors chronicled in this article.

Thanks for shining the light on this particular topic, WSJ!