Multi-level assistance made an impact

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She was happy to take 'a leap into the deep end,' but had limited expectations from outplacement, which Standard Chartered offers as a standard part of a senior redundancy package.

'I had only become aware of outplacement when my previous boss left and from the way he described it, I thought it was a glorified serviced office,' she says. When she arrived at outplacement firm Right Management Consultants, Todd was impressed by the range of seminars and services available, but still imagined she had little to learn.

'I thought I knew it all. It was like yeah, yeah, yeah, I'll give that a go because I never turn away free information.' Since then, she admits, 'I have swallowed my words.'

Todd attended both group and individual sessions on CV writing, personal presentation and interview skills as well as joining regular networking lunches and spending one-on-one time with her personal consultant focusing on her strengths and achievements and working out what she wanted to do next.

She also did a Myers/Briggs personality test for the first time. 'I found that very illuminating. My personality type likes endings and enjoys structure more than free-floating. Right Management do it also for their own benefit, so they know the best approach to take with each client,' Todd explains.

From the way she talks about outplacement, Todd clearly had fun with it, as well as deriving concrete benefits. These she describes as making the difference between an average performance and a polished one. So, for example, she developed a more concise and better targeted CV, got help with writing covering letters and practiced interviewing. 'It's useful to think through in advance how you are going to phrase your answers, what questions you are going to ask and what you need to be aware of in your body language. When I get excited I tend to wave my hands about. Having seen myself on the video, it's something I am now aware of,' she says.

The networking opportunities were also useful, both for making contacts and for exchanging stories and experiences. 'Some of the other people I met were totally bereft, especially men in their 50s. The group sessions and networking are a chance for people to work through their anger and hostility, especially for those who left in unhappy circumstances.'

Todd took four months to find a new job, initially going into Right Management's offices quite frequently and then once a fortnight to meet her consultant. She concentrated on two possible avenues, wealth management and corporate strategy, and ended up getting an advertised position in corporate finance with Ernst & Young.

Would she have got the job without outplacement? She says: 'I would give Right Management the benefit of the doubt in having sharpened up my skills. I'd gone in thinking, 'I would like that', but was forced to think, why should they employ me?

'To have had the opportunity to stop and think what I want to do, away from the daily pressures of working all hours and commuting, that has been great. If you ever have the opportunity to have someone pay for outplacement, take it,' says Todd. 'And if it isn't offered, ask for it.'

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