Are Outplacement Firms Pointless?

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I know that when I lost my full-time job a few months ago, few of my colleagues bothered to utilize the outplacement firm paid for by our former employer. And almost all of the people who did use the firm found the experience of little help, with “tips” on job databases available to anyone and advice on networking that most people already know.

The WSJ has a front-page story reinforcing what I’ve learned about outplacement firms. Many of the people interviewed say that these firms are a waste of time. Also, a waste of money: Outplacement firms collect an average of $3,589 per employee (or rather, ex-employee). If my old company would have offered the folks being laid off that in cash—or heck, one-tenth of that in cash—my guess is that nearly everyone would have taken the money over the service.

“Compassionate downsizing” is an oxymoron. And in lieu of true compassion, I’d prefer cold cash any day.