Recently I had the unfortunate experience of watching this video, which will apparently be aired over and over again on PBS. (Time for some humility here – I’m fortunate I only watched it and don’t have to live it, so I am NOT complaining.) This made me question a lot of things. I’m sure you’ll see this video recurring in future posts as I write about the different topics that crossed my mind. I’m going to begin with the very first thing I wondered as I watched.
The subject matter is the 99ers, a term for those who have exhausted their 99 weeks of unemployment. Being in the outplacement industry and having worked in operations where I have first-hand knowledge of our candidates’ experiences, the first question I had was to wonder how these laid off employees would have fared if they had access to our services? (I do not intend for this to turn into a commercial, but I believe very passionately in what we do and it may sound like one at times.)
Losing a job is ranked only behind death of a spouse or a child or divorce in terms of life stressors. When something stressful happens, what do you do? You look for support. If possible you seek support from knowledgeable sources. I watched the interviewees work on trying to develop their own support system, but how would they have benefited from a personal coach? This is someone who initially helps the candidate to manage their emotions – absorbing the shock, coping with the anger, fear and grief, and basically helping the displaced employee to accept the situation. But then, the coach provides assistance in not only developing a strategy, but executing the strategy. Our coaches arm them with tools and suggestions, and then stay with them to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Our coaches also recommend alternative efforts when what they are doing is not working.
I have seen the results and the mindset of those who choose to use our services. Yes, we still help with resumes and interviewing skills, but more importantly, we are there for them emotionally and that is proving to be the defining feature of effective outplacement. In fact, resume assistance used to be ranked highest as the most valued service by our job seekers. Coaching as the most valued service has increased from 24% in 2008, to 46% in 2009, to 55% today. And this trend will continue as long as there are just under 5 unemployed workers for each job opening.
People who are laid off need emotional support. The majority of them suffer from situational depression. But if this type of depression is not managed, it becomes clinical depression which is a serious and lifelong problem. The best treatment is support and assistance in coping. Recognizing this, we stopped offering coaching support for only one year and made this service available for the duration of the search, no matter how long it takes.
Unfortunately, this will not help everyone. Because the desire to do just that is what I’m left with, I am going to offer some resources I’ve put together to try to reach those that we don’t. If you know of anyone in this situation that could use them, please pass them on. If you have any you could add, please do so in the comments.
A great document with suggestions for using and maximizing coupons. Be sure to check out near the end where there is a great library of additional long term unemployment resources.