Outplacement cowboys screw the recently unemployed

The WSJ reports on the slipshod cowboys who've rushed in to fill the demand for "outplacement firms" who are meant to help laid-off employees find a better job. Some of these firms assign their "coaches" 15 clients per day, send out amateurish, typo-laden job applications on behalf of job-seekers (without their knowledge, signing their names to the cover letters, no less), and generally make a piss-poor hash out of their charges' future employment prospects. Laid-off workers are wising up and asking their former employers for cash instead of "counselling."

I'm always reminded of my friend's outplacement horror story: when he was laid off, he was called into a board room with the other unlucky unemployment lotto winners, where a high price consultant had scattered coins all over the floor and furniture and dimmed the lights save for a few dramatic spots. "Change," he intoned, "is all around you. And there's no need to fear it."

True story.

Damian Birkel, a career coach, joined Right in June 2007, initially as a contract counselor and later as a full-time employee. He primarily worked from home, but spent at least one day a week in Right's office in High Point, N.C.

Mr. Birkel says Right assigned him 60 people, a minimum of 15 a day, to coach by phone or online. One month of outplacement included no more than four hours of counseling, he says, a limited number of online seminars and access to a portion of Right's Web site. Most users received one to three months of services, which often ended before they found work, he says.

Mr. Birkel says Right fired him in August 2008, after he extended counseling time for people whose outplacement had expired. One was a single mother who'd missed appointments while trying to retain her foreclosed home. "I wasn't cut out for over-the-phone, fast-food outplacement," says Mr. Birkel.

Outplacement Firms Struggle to Do Job

(via Consumerist)

(Image: Unemployment Report, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from notionscapital's photostream)