The Outplacement Zone

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As part of our transition, the company offers a free 60 day session with an outplacement firm. According to the website of that particular firm, its a win-win situation. Those of us on the outs get help finding a new positions. Those left behind will get a warm and fuzzy about how the company is treating those who were cast aside and stay engaged and committed to their work. And the organization protects its brand reputation (its all about the brand) because they were so nice to offer this little service.

And, there is some truth to this. In the last go round, the one person I was most worried about found a wonderful new job that she is enjoying. So, yes, I was glad to see that she got help. As for feeling better about the company well it was nice they did rather than just handing her a box and saying “pack your stuff and good luck”. But there were so many things handled poorly that it really didn’t do much for a lot of us who were left behind.

Now this is the second big layoff in two years. Right now, the remaining crew does not view the changes positively. It feels more like a sinking ship. To be honest, they’re probably now more concerned about saving their jobs then what happens to us. Having said all that, I still appreciate the fact that the company is providing this service even if they aren’t doing it just for our benefit.

I mentioned in a previous post that I’m not really going through the typical stages everyone talks about. But the person leading this class brought that back up again. I know some others are having a little bit more of a difficult transition and have personal situations that make it a bit more dicey to be on the street again. But it kind of bothers me when I sense someone treating me like some kind of fragile breakable thing. Don’t know why but it just kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

I should probably also say that I’m totally convinced that I don’t want another corporate job like I had before. I’m not even sure I want to get back into the job market. But there may come a time when I want something so I figured it would be worth it to see what these people can do and maybe get some guidance on a resume since I never really updated mine. Yes, I know that is bad but I wasn’t really thinking of looking anywhere else.

To foreshadow just a bit, if what she described is what it takes, I’m not sure it is even worth it but I’ll at least stay with it for a bit. I mean I’ve got 60 free days and I might as well make them do something.

So she starts going over their path and plan. They have a lot of self assessment tools and they want you to start there. All about finding your values and other things that could help you narrow down future career choices. I’m all about self discovery so that part sounded interesting.

Then, she started going on about LinkedIn and how it was just the best tool and they would teach us how to best use it. (Gee, I thought I didn’t need the free LinkedIN Premium or whatever it was they were offering). Cause its all about creating your own brand and networking. Because only 30% of the jobs are advertised. The rest are hidden and you won’t find them unless you put yourself out there. She relayed one story of how she got a consulting gig simply because she was linked to someone who knew the hiring managed and they figured that was good enough. Sounds like a stupid way to make hiring decisions but that’s just me.

Oh and we have to manage the message about why we are no longer working at the company. That makes sense. Most companies use downsizings to clean out the less productive people that they can’t fire for other reasons. So if you got swept up in that, you are potential damaged goods and you have to have a story about why you are still someone who should be hired.

And then it was about the resume and interview skills and the whole brand thing. All I could think of were those people on LinkedIn who call themselves “thought leaders” or other such fluff. Does that really work? Is that what really impresses people?

Now we get into the world is not fair to introverts discussion. And, nobody ever guaranteed that the world is fair so this isn’t a whine. Just a statement that this type of stuff is so easy for some and completely out of the comfort zone for others. The whole idea of networking appears so shallow. You just connect to people for random reasons or because you think they can help you. I know it has to be done but when you go into a relationship only because you think you can get something out of it, that just feels a little wrong to me.

She talked about LinkedIN stalking and how you might even be able to find the hiring manager and that you should definitely follow the CEO on Twitter. Something about knowing their pain points so you can artfully work that into the conversation during an interview – if you get that far. Plus, all big companies have their own lingo so you might even be able to speak their language at an interview which wins you bonus points. In other words, don’t be yourself. Be what they want whether that is really you or not. I should now go back and delete my previous post because it seems I am just woefully behind the times. These days it is all about aggressively self promoting and networking and that requires you to be different things to different people. Well, maybe it doesn’t but if someone doesn’t find you interesting, then they probably aren’t going to respond to any of your networking stuff so you’ve got to find what interests them and speak to that.

Now, I may have just been reacting badly to this and she may not have meant this but that’s what it sounded like. I suppose it makes sense. Interviewing is basically acting. You have to assume a part of a person the company can’t live without and aggressively sell that.

On the other hand (and this just occurred to me), maybe it does fit with the values and it means that if you aren’t comfortable putting on a show, then you narrow your search to jobs and places you are really passionate about. Then, it is authentically you and you end up in a place that fits.

The other thing about the whole branding and self-promotion is that it starts to sound like bragging. Again, there are people who have no problem doing this but there’s this part of me that just hates that. Those of us who constantly undersell ourselves are at a disadvantage. When I look through the comments from various people who responded to my one LinkedIn post, the common themes were intelligence, integrity and kindness. Should I work that into a brand? It just feels a bit wrong to say those things about yourself. Just something for me to get over I guess.

Anyway, I’m just glad I didn’t have to put myself back into the workforce before now. I know that finding a job takes a lot of work and effort but this whole thing of marketing and selling yourself feels a lot uncomfortable. I would hate to be a young INFP (or probably any of the introverted feelers) out there trying to find a job.

In some ways, it just seems a little silly to me. I know that big companies spend a lot of time trying to find the right “fit” because it can be hard to correct a mistake. And we counter by doing all these things to find out what the company wants and trying to find a way to convince them that we are that “fit”. I guess it is just the way of the world.

Like I said before, I’m now more convinced than ever that I don’t want to put myself back on the general market. I will take the time to do some of their stuff but I’m only going to make the effort if it is something I really want to do.

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