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India - Outplacement Agencies turn to fine-tuned career coaching

31 December 2013

Layoffs on a mass scale may be a couple of years behind us, but outplacement agencies continue to have their jobs cut out for them, according to the Economic Times.

From just finding retrenched employees other job opportunities, these agencies are taking up the role of counsellors, with a focus on career transitions for executives coping with life changes and moving to newer businesses. The days when multinationals fired in hundreds are gone.

Chaitali Mukherjee, country manager for Right Management, the outplacement arm of Manpower India, commented: “From 650 layoffs in one company we are looking at 100 at the most. Therefore mere outplacement will not help us survive and we have to offer services like career transition.”

The focus earlier was to just to help them find another job. But during career transitions it is about finding the best job fit. Psychometric tests are now used widely, alongside coaching for three to six months.

Keeping in mind that older employees may not have kept pace with changes in the job hunting process over the past few years, coaching on the use of social media, tweaking profiles on websites such as LinkedIn, and briefings on the business environment in other industries has also become a distinct responsibility.

Hiring outplacement agencies make companies enter a wish list of future candidates. Sunil Goel, Managing Director of GlobalHunt, said: “In 2008, it was a reaction to a distress in the economy, and focus was on costs, but now there is a marked slowdown. Companies are aware that this is a situation that will get reversed going forward, and firms will need to hire back.”

Right Management recently helped middle managers move from Banking, Financial services and Insurance (BFSI) to healthcare and from media to instructive design sector. Some senior executives have even become entrepreneurs and Right Management helps them get in touch with the entrepreneurial community.

Preethi Madappa, Director of Human Resources, South Asia Intel, commented: "If not in terms of finding immediate employment, it helps to have such services in place to help employees adjust to the developments."

For the agencies, business has been growing. Close to 15% of Global Hunt's business comes from outplacement, and the market for these services has been doubling each year.

Companies that use their services belong to sectors spanning technology, high-end engineering, telecom, investment banking and research and development.

The sluggish economy has also made these outplacement agencies work as counsellors. They have to keep candidates' hopes afloat and ensure they update their skills.

Aditya Narayan Mishra, President of Staffing and Director of Marketing, Randstad India, concluded: "The success rate is 25% to 30% in terms of immediate placement. For the remainder, it is about mentally disengaging from the current role into the new state of being, and adjusting with society post the event of getting laid off.”


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