Wow, A Lot Of Outplacement Firms Stink

Turns out that outplacement firms—those guys and gals in suits, hired by the company that just laid you off, who are supposed to help you get a new job—kinda suck.

The WSJ investigated and found that some of these folks are what some could call criminally incompetent.

One woman used outplacement services for 18 months and said that the whole process was a waste of time: the company sent out cover letters bearing her name and covered in typos.

She was also chastised for ordering cranberry juice at a mock interview session because “it could be interpreted as a sign of a urinary-tract infection.”

One guy on a mock job interview was “scolded for not following his coach to the restroom to continue the conversation. The other says he was chided for ordering diet soda because it suggested immaturity.”

Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, a large outplacement firm in Chicago, sent pretty much the same cover letter for two different women, including the cranberry-juice woman, to the same job…and the hiring manager, who was president of a PR firm, told the WSJ that “”We didn’t take the letters seriously because they did not reflect an understanding of our company — and they looked alike.”

John Challenger himself, CEO of Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, said it wasn’t company policy to send out cover letters without the client’s approval, but defended the cranberry juice comment. “He said [pieces of advice like that] are part of an overall message to always think about perceptions of the interviewer,” the WSJ wrote. “‘Ordering ice tea, water or coffee, doesn’t stand out. Ordering cranberry juice might.'”