Career Coaching for Outplacement and Beyond

Whether outplacing candidates or developing internal talent, career coaching can drive significant benefits for the organization.

Female career coach providing talent management strategies through executive coaching

In my work as a consultant and career coach with Right Management, I often hear outplacement candidates say, “I wish I could have had this coaching conversation when I was in my last role, rather than as I am leaving.” Having taken the time to think about what they want from their career and what they can offer to an employer, the individual makes the connection and sees the value of coaching as part of ongoing career conversations between manager and employee. Executive candidates, in particular, find this experience so valuable. For many, it has changed how they go on to lead future teams, with a new focus on developing their organization’s biggest asset: its people.
When I have asked individuals in an outplacement program which ingredient has been most beneficial, it is not surprising to hear that “the one-to-one coaching meetings with my consultant” is number one. After all, the coaching meeting is the opportunity for the candidate to share in confidence—probably for the very first time—their concerns and career aspirations, and to explore in a non-judgmental way the career options they are considering. 
Imagine telling a relative or close friend: “I’m thinking of not taking another full-time role with the same level of responsibility I’ve had for at least six months.” You may be greeted with shock and horror. Tell a career coach, on the other hand, you will get help in analyzing whether this is a realistic and viable option. Working with a coach, an individual can determine the right course of action and then rehearse how to position the decision with those who are likely to think it is a crazy idea, and change their resistance into support.
The expectations and assumptions of others, particularly around how quick and easy it will be to secure another role at a similar level in a similar industry, are natural. Why wouldn’t they be concerned? Their intentions are genuine; they have the individual’s best interests at heart and often can’t see beyond the next mortgage payment or university fees. However, those close to the individual may not think to ask the important questions around career goals, skills and experience—and how these align to today’s world of work. This is where the discussion with an experienced career coach during an outplacement program of support can add such value and make such a difference. 
Five benefits of career coaching
  1. Reflection Career coaching conversations provide the opportunity to reflect on your career. When was the last time you took the time to sit down and think about your career? To identify what “chapters” you enjoyed the most and those you didn’t, and ask yourself why?  Was it the role? Was it the culture of the organization? Was it the career conversations I had with my boss that helped me develop? What is the likelihood of a career conversation taking place in my current organization?
  2. Transferable Skill Identification – Knowing how to identify and articulate your skills to someone who doesn’t know you and hasn’t worked with you is a critical outcome of the coaching meeting. Ensuring the skills are aligned to the competencies of the role are a deal breaker for hiring managers when they are reviewing applications and CVs.
  3. Support and Challenge – Coaching sessions are an opportunity for the outplacement candidate to receive the appropriate balance of support and challenge to help them move forward. Friends and family can be great at offering support but a career coach is different. None of us particularly enjoy being taken into “unknown territory"; however, when you think back, the leaders, coaches and mentors that had the greatest impact were those who challenged and stretched us.
  4. Feedback – Receiving feedback on what we are doing in relation to any new skill enables us to develop that skill. Job searching skills are new to some people, while others have outdated skills. Career coaching meetings during an outplacement program give the candidate the opportunity to receive feedback, develop these skills, and make progress.
  5. Expertise – Trust between the career coach and the candidate is often built on the credibility and sound advice they can offer. A career coach is in touch with the most up to date thinking, world of work trends and recruitment methods—as well as business experience—enabling the candidate to decipher the mountain of advice they receive from other well-meaning advisors. 
  6. Career coaching should not just be reserved for those exiting an organization. When was the last time you had the opportunity to focus on you; to have the “me” time we often view as a luxury? Most of us do not take time out to focus on our careers; and as leaders we also don’t take time to focus on the careers of our direct reports. When was the last time you had a career conversation with one of your team members? Was it tagged onto the end of a performance review discussion? 
I encourage every manager to integrate coaching conversations into their interactions with team members. Sometime the greatest support you can provide as a manager is listening to your employees, asking questions, providing feedback, challenging assumptions, and giving them the opportunity to reflect and grow as professionals.


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