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Outplacement is the efforts made by a downsizing company to help former employees transition to new jobs and help them re-orient themselves in the job market.[1] A consultancy firm usually provides the outplacement services which are paid for by the former employer and are achieved through practical advice and psychological support.

Outplacement is either delivered through individual one-on-one sessions or in a group format. Topics include career guidance, career evaluation, resume writing and interview preparation, developing networks, job search skills and targeting the job market.[citation needed]


The term outplacement was coined more than 30 years ago by the founder of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based career consultancy. With the increased rates of downsizing, rightsizing, redundancies and layoffs, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s,[2] businesses increasingly found a need for some form of assistance in reducing the trauma of redundancy for both departing employees and those who remain. Indeed, research shows that losing one's job is one of the most stressful experiences a person can face other than death and divorce.[3]

"Outplacement" firms can also provide counseling support for individuals who have not been offered those services through their employer, but choose, on their own, to pay an outplacement or "career management" service to provide the same assistance. Since the client of an outplacement firm is the individual or firm that pays the fee, the individual who elects to contract with an outplacement firm on their own may often receive more one-on-one time, and more individualized attention, than is usually offered when the company hires the outplacement provider.[citation needed]


A page-one feature in the August 20, 2009, Wall Street Journal, headlined "Outplacement Firms Struggle to Do Job", reported that U.S. corporations are increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of outplacement services they receive:

As demand rises in the $4 billion-a-year outplacement business, providers increasingly offer standardized services, which some workers say offer little value. Businesses anxious to shed former employees quickly and cheaply impose time limits that hamper effectiveness. Few employers track whether outplacement works.

The best outplacement programs provide ongoing support, as it is often the case that after the individual has not been able to find a new job after searching for a number of weeks that they need the most help. Many companies will stop providing support after an allotted time although some companies provide support for as long as the individual needs it. Some also track the success rate of re-employment to help evaluate their services.


  1. ^ Doherty, N. (1998). "The role of outplacement in redundanc management". Personnel Review 27 (4). p. 343. 
  2. ^ Littler, C. R. (2003). Understanding the HR Strategies of the 1990s. University of Queensland Business School Seminar Series. 
  3. ^ Lewison, J. (2002). "From Fired to Hired". Journal of Accountancy 193 (6): 43. 

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