What Recruiters Can Learn From Outplacement - A Conversation with Orville Pierson - Former SVP - Program Design Lee Hecht Harrison

The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search - The Proven Program Used by the World's Leading Career Services Company - by Orville PiersonHighly Effective Networking

What Recruiters Can Learn From Outplacement - A Conversation with Orville Pierson - Former SVP - Program Design Lee Hecht Harrison

Abstract and Summary from Mike Rasmussen, PHR - Recruiter @ ADP: Recently - I sat down with Orville Pierson whom agreed to interview with me for a view on outplacement in the United States and some challenges job seekers face as well the view on the Outplacement side what really are job seeker challenges that recruiters may need to be sensitive to to be successful.  In addition we discussed some pertinent ways that Recruiting/Staffing/HR might find volunteer opportunity as well as opportunity to help job seekers and inadvertently tap into a new pool of talent.  There are in reality MANY things recruiters and staffing professionals can do to open the door for others in more ways.  There may be those in the community affected by the recent economy whom have opportunity waiting to tap in and assist.  His conversation with me was a "breath of fresh air".  His passion is helping the unemployed find work and a way to advance their careers.  A little help goes a long way as it were.  In this holiday season perhaps this is a view to look at - volunteerism to bring back the "human touch" of the recruiting side.  Realizing further that job seekers with their unique challenges may not firmly understand the "recruiter's view".  It is here I found Orville's experience quite refreshing.  You can visit his website at: http://www.highlyeffectivejobsearch.com/

Without further ado - here is the conversation I had the chance to enjoy with Orville and his biography as well as summary info about his books courtesy of Amazon.com:


Orville Pierson is a top expert in job search assistance and the author of two widely acclaimed job hunting books: Highly Effective Networking (Career Press), and The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search (McGraw-Hill).

He served for 19 years as Corporate Director of Program Design at the headquarters of Lee Hecht Harrison (LHH), a 300-office global career services program. He led the team that created job hunting programs used to assist over a million job hunters in finding good new jobs.

In that role, Mr. Pierson created the overall LHH job search curriculum and was the primary or sole author of dozens of privately-published LHH books, manuals and websites, including Executive Directions: Creating Options in Life and Work, Managing Your Search Project, a guide used by up to 100,000 job hunters a year and content for the industry's most comprehensive password-protected job hunting website, Career Resource Network. He also designed training materials for LHH's staff and trained hundreds of career coaches.

Mr. Pierson has been in the career services field since 1977 as a program designer as well as a trainer and career coach to hundreds of private clients. He has spoken at universities and business schools, as well as for groups of executives, HR professionals, and college career professionals. He has appeared on radio and TV, and has been featured in many articles, ranging from the NACE Journal to Forbes.com to general audience publications. His education includes a BA from Yale University and training in career-related psychological instruments.

 A Conversation with Orville Pierson – Author of “The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search” & Former SVP of Program Design – Lee Hecht Harrison.

Mike: Thank you for visiting with me!  I used your book a few years ago to great results – “The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search”.  Can you share what inspires you in helping Job Seekers find their way?

Orville: My life's work is helping unemployed people get back to work. Job hunting – especially when it follows involuntary termination -- is a difficult task and a difficult life passage. The studies on it show that people are more likely to have higher stress, health problems, marital problems, substance abuse problems, and all kinds of unpleasant things. So helping unemployed people get back into good jobs more quickly not only restores their livelihood, it improves their lives and might avert serious problems.

Mike: What do you think Recruiters can do to support job seekers better?

Orville: Recruiters are particularly smart about resumes and interviewing. They've seen it all. They know what works and what doesn't work.

Job hunters nearly always appreciate assistance in those two areas. We all have a tendency to want to talk and write most about the work experiences that were most important to us personally. But of course, employers want to hear about experience relevant to their organization. So helping the job hunter get it all sorted out––what to talk about and how to talk about it ––is a great service.

Most job hunters also appreciate information on how recruiters do their jobs and how job hunters can most effectively relate to them.

So when recruiters volunteer to do talks and Q&A sessions with job hunters, that's a great service, something of enormous value to job hunters.

Mike: From your experience what is the perception of Job Seekers about Recruiters?

Orville: Job hunters usually have a very positive perception of recruiters. Unfortunately, that sometimes includes the erroneous belief that the recruiter is  somehow paid to assist job hunters -- and will single-handedly save them from unemployment.

Job hunters often believe that recruiters––and anyone else in human resources––are experts on all aspects of job search assistance. So I think it's important for recruiters to tell job hunters what their greatest strengths are: which job titles, industries, and aspects of the employment process. And which parts of the job hunting process they're less familiar with.

Most job hunters are smart enough to know that it's a good idea to make friends with recruiters and honestly assist them in any way possible.

I don't see a lot of negative perceptions of recruiters. They’re sometimes viewed as a gatekeeper who is an obstacle to communicating with the decision-maker. And they’re sometimes viewed as insensitive if they decline to spend a lot of time with the job hunter. But, all-in-all, I think the perception is very positive.

Mike: What can Recruiters do to get involved more in helping with outplacement, career direction and candidate career growth?

Orville: I love to see recruiters involved as subject matter experts in outplacement or job search assistance of any kind. Their contributions are very useful. And I also think it's good PR for their employers or recruiting practices.

Mike: Follow up question: What resources are available to assist recruiters in locating local organizations that may have a need for help with job outplacement services of any kind?

Orville: I think they should start with any outplacement organizations in their city. If those organizations have no need for SME speakers, they may be able to refer you to organizations that do use such speakers --religious organizations, nonprofits, or state agencies.

The two largest outplacement organizations, Lee Hecht Harrison and Right Management, have offices in all of the larger cities around the world. Most US cities also have several local boutique firms. They’re all easily found on the Internet.

Mike: What can communities do to help job seekers with support and tools?

Orville: Many communities have job search assistance programs sponsored by churches, synagogues or community groups. In recent years, I have worked with a number of those. They typically have little or no professional staff, and sometimes a very limited number of volunteer workers. The staff that they do have is sometimes experienced in job search assistance and sometimes not.

I have been helping them add Job Search Work Teams to their programs. I created these teams about 20 years ago and they have been highly successful. There is very strong evidence that they assist job hunters with many of the typical job hunting problems. And there's evidence that team members find jobs 20% faster than non-team members.

I established these teams at Lee Hecht Harrison and they have been used there globally since the early 1990’s, led by career professionals. In the last 7 years, I've gained a lot of experience with member-led Job Search Work Teams in nonprofits and faith-based organizations. As a result of that, I've written a new book on the process, Team Up! Find a Better Job Faster with a Job Search Work Team. The book will be released in January.

These team are not self-directed, and they are definitely not informal discussion groups where people complain about the difficulties of job hunting. They have a defined structure that makes team members comfortable, involves them in group problem-solving and increases their effectiveness in job hunting every week, week by week. The design is consistent with psychological research on job-hunter behavior and job search effectiveness.

One important aspect of the process is numerical progress tracking. Based on research, this simple system allows job hunters to answer central productivity questions like:

-- Before you have an offer, or even an interview, how do you know if you’re making progress in your job search?

-- How much progress did you make last week?

-- Which of your activities are producing that progress?

Based on the experience of the last seven years, I know it’s possible for community and faith-based organizations to offer really great job search assistance programs on little or no budget. And the teams certainly help them do that. There’s a great deal more information on all of this in the new book.

Mike: What are your thoughts on “Social Media” and what do you think the future of technology means to both recruiters and job seekers alike?

Orville: LinkedIn is an essential part of job hunting. Job hunters need to know how to present a consistent picture of themselves on LinkedIn and all social media that they use. And how to honestly align that picture with their current job search.

That said, I think that the value of social media in job hunting is sometimes over emphasized these days. For example, I see Twitter as a useful information source on a job hunter’s target list of organizations. But I see little value for job hunters in making posts on Twitter.

Mike: What is it about one’s network that is important today and reputation in your opinion?

Orville: Reputation is everything. Reputation management is an essential piece of career management. Job hunters who had a strong positive reputation in former employers have excellent networking opportunities with those who knew them at work. A good strong reputation when you are employed is like money in the bank when you are in job search.

Mike: What drives you professionally?

Orville: I want to see unemployed people get back into a great new job as quickly as possible and with minimal trauma.

Mike: If you had one message for all professionals regarding helping job seekers what would that be?

Orville: Be aware of what you have to offer others.  Recruiters can help job hunters with written and verbal communications, as well as with selecting which jobs and organizations to go after.

Have a system for providing job search assistance. The progress measures that I use in Job Search Work Teams can provide such a system. You can use those measurements to see where a job hunter stands and quickly diagnose their needs and problems. Then you can provide targeted advice and suggestions – all in a very brief conversation.

Mike:  Professionally what are you most proud of?

Orville: Job Search Work Teams.  I designed the program in early 90’s – and its helped thousands of job hunters.  People can now do it for themselves.  I’m  interested in helping as many as possible.  The more the better.

Mike: Having just come out of this most recent “Great Recession”, can you describe what you think the next 5 years will look like from your view on the economic stability?

Orville: It looks to me like job search is still more difficult than it was before 2008, but it has gotten better. I’m not an economist, so I won’t comment on the larger economic picture. I’m not so sure that anyone knows what will happen with the economy in five years.

Mike: In closing – is there anything else you would like to share with Recruiting Professionals?

Orville: I’m delighted when recruiting professionals get involved in job search assistance. It’s so helpful. I think that professional recruiters sometimes underestimate the value they can bring to the table.

A Special thanks to Orville for his time and focusing in on a key few areas readers may want to know about from the job seeker side and from the perspective of how recruiters might get involved.  Who knows?  This opportunity to "serve" in the community by providing our expertise to the outplacement and community job seeker parties may serve us with more amazing talent options. 

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