Is outplacement the way forward?

I have nearly four years experience in a very broad, generalist role, and
have recently gained a post-grad diploma and CIPD membership. I chose a career
in HR because I wanted to work with and help people. I soon had my eyes opened
to the reality of life in a personnel department. I believe a roleas an
outplacement consultant may suit my skills and meet my expectations in terms of
job satisfaction. How can I best equip myself for such a role, and do many
vacancies occur? Do you have any other suggestions for more suitable jobs for

Claire Coldwell, consultant, Chiumento

Working as an outplacement counsellor is hugely rewarding but also very
demanding as you are often dealing with strong emotional reactions. You need to
remain objective and empathic while coaching people to find a way forward for

You need to assess your suitability. Talk to some outplacement counsellors
about their work – and get some realistic feedback.

There is currently no single recognised qualification for outplacement
counselling, although this is being developed, but a counselling qualification
is a useful foundation, ideally one recognised by the British Association for

Most outplacement counsellors operate as self-employed associates of one or
more of the major firms. Such positions are rarely advertised but tend to be
filled by direct approach to the organisation concerned, followed by a rigorous
selection procedure.

Alternatively, you might consider moving into training and/or management
coaching, or even HR – in an organisation whose values you feel to be closer to
your own.

Sarah Rendell, consultant, EJ Human Resources

You could talk to outplacement consultants/ contacts and research what they
actually do on a day-to-day basis to ensure this is the direction you wish to
take and that you are not just disillusioned with your current job.

This will also give you a deeper understanding of what skills are useful for
such a role and the areas you may need to develop further in.

I would also recommend you apply directly and network widely, using a CV
that emphasises the required skills, as such vacancies do not tend to be
advertised widely or registered with HR specific agencies.

Clive Sussams, recruitment consultant, Malpas Flexible Learning

You are still at a relatively early stage in your career and maybe it is
time to obtain broader experience to give you greater interest. While the
profession has become more strategic and is working more closely with overall
business needs, you may gain considerable satisfaction by being involved with
successful people initiatives.

Have you considered moving into learning and development? This has the
potential to satisfy some of your expectations, particularly through mentoring
and personal coaching.

Many outplacement specialists have developed their careers through HR
management and have been able to use the skills gained in a positive and
proactive way. Acquiring additional qualifications in areas such as
psychometric testing and counselling will also be very helpful to you.

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