Education and Training: College
Salary: Median—$52,800 per year
Employment Outlook: Excellent
Definition and Nature of the Work
World competition and increased technology have taken their toll on middle managers. Companies now find that they have to operate with fewer managerial personnel. In the past when these managers lost their jobs, they received only financial compensation. More recently companies have been using the services of outplacement consultants who work for outplacement consulting firms. These are specially trained people who can provide many different types of assistance to the terminated employee.
An outplacement consultant is a type of human resources consultant/specialist. Outplacement consultants assist employees in obtaining new positions more quickly. Although these consultants do not actually locate new jobs, they help employees to develop the skills and attitude necessary for a successful job search.
In the initial stages of assistance, outplacement consultants counsel employees about the psychological effects of job loss and how best to prepare for looking for a new job. They may also test employees to assess personality and skills. Following this evaluation, the consultants spend time coaching employees in job-hunting skills, interviewing, resume writing, and how to market their experience and skills.
Until recently these services were available only to selected senior employees. Today many companies realize the advantages of offering outplacement services to other terminated employees. Many unions also include this benefit in their contract negotiations.
Consultants usually offer group seminars to nonmanagerial staff in company offices. They also set up workshops where employees can discuss their situation and the problems associated with losing their jobs. These meetings are followed by other workshops designed to develop job-hunting skills and to offer advice on how to begin looking for new positions.
The terminating company pays a fee to the outplacement firms for these services. Many firms also provide private one-on-one counseling and workshops for individuals who find themselves unemployed. A few large corporations employ their own outplacement specialists. They are often personnel managers with additional training in this field.
Education and Training Requirements
There is no specific training needed to become an outplacement consultant. People working in this field come from a variety of backgrounds. Many have had personnel experience in a number of industries. Some have become consultants after having lost their jobs.
Employers usually require that outplacement consultants have a college education. Courses in personnel administration, personnel management, business, psychology, and sociology provide a good background. Many outplacement consultants have master's degrees in counseling or behavioral sciences, and some have doctoral degrees.
Getting the Job
A college placement office may be a good source for locating outplacement consultant positions. Interested individuals can also check the classified ads in local newspapers and professional magazines and job sites on the Internet.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Outplacement specialists may advance to managerial positions within outplacement firms depending on their skills, experience, and performance. Some experienced consultants begin their own outplacement firms.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of human resources consultants of all types was predicted to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2014. The number of outplacement firms is expected to increase as outplacement services become an accepted part of employee benefits packages. Openings for qualified people will increase as outplacement firms begin to offer services such as management personnel assessment and preretirement counseling.
Outplacement consultants generally work from their own offices. They may conduct interviews and counsel clients in pleasant rooms or hold workshop and discussion groups in large conference rooms. They also work in resource rooms where reference books and materials are kept for clients' use.
When a large corporation plans to terminate many employees, the consultants usually travel to the company offices. Here outplacement consultants use specially provided space to conduct their counseling and training. They may also have to travel to different companies to discuss the services they offer.
Where to Go for More Information
Association of Career Firms International
204 E St. NE
Washington, DC 20002
Earnings and Benefits
The median annual salary for a human resources consultant in 2004 was $52,800, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Earnings for outplacement consultants likely depend on the size of the firm for which the consultant works and the number and type of contracts received by the firm.