Headhunters move into outplacement

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Underemployed headhunters in the City of London are turning themselves into outplacement experts, as firing replaces hiring in the financial services industry.

Penna Meridian, one of the biggest outplacement providers, has doubled its staff to 80 associates in just three months to cope with soaring redundancies at banks and other firms. At least six of the new staff have come from Penna BBM, the headhunting firm and fellow member of the Penna group.

Michael Moran, executive director of Penna Meridian, said: 'Inevitably, some of them have been doing less headhunting now than six months ago. It makes sense for them to use their skills in outplacement.'

They will be able to continue headhunting as well, as most of Penna's outplacement associates work part-time. About 12 of the Penna group's consultancy staff have also been turned into outplacement providers, while another 20 associates have joined from outside the group.

Moran said that early this year, redundant staff in the City took an average of about 12 weeks to find another job. 'It wouldn't surprise me if this lengthened to 15 or 18 weeks early next year, because of the economic climate,' he said.

Banks typically pay for a three-month outplacement package for departing employees or longer for senior staff.

In the past, about half of redundant employees in the City have moved back to a similar job via Penna Meridian, while the other half have left the City altogether, Moran said.

All Penna's new associates have received training in psychometric tests, CV writing, negotiation techniques and other skills aimed at helping redundant staff find new jobs.

Penna Meridian is active in the technology, media and telecoms, business consulting and financial services sectors.

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