Career Reflections from a Career Coach
Note from the author: COVID has us all working in unchartered territory. As most will attest, working in collaboration with staff for so many hours in a day, has us to start to feel like family. To learn more about the profession of Outplacement Services Career Coach, I sat down for a frank conversation with Kelly Bidon. Kelly has, over the course of her career, worked with thousands of employers and displaced workers – supporting employers with the many considerations regarding termination and for the affected employee(s), the many considerations required to prepare for their next career.
I started at Agilec when I was 24–years old and as you can likely assume, we were a much smaller team at that time. I had recently graduated with a degree in Sociology, and before coming to Agilec, was working at a group home that supported children with disabilities. My previous work experience had included work as a Health Counsellor, community outreach provider for the deaf population, and retail. When I graduated, I knew I wanted to work with people – work in a helping profession, but consistently heard from my guidance counsellor (high school and university), parents, teachers/professors, that I should consider social work, nursing, or teaching. I quickly found out for myself there were so many other opportunities out there where I could make an impact. In hindsight, I now realize, I needed someone to help me with a Transferable Skills Analysis. After learning about Agilec from a friend, I interviewed for a position and soon started out as a part–time, short–term Job Coach – working with a candidate in a large company mail room. After a few months, and considerable on-the-job training, that role turned into a full–time permanent Employment Specialist. I’ve now had the pleasure of working both as a Career Coach and Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist with thousands of candidates and a team of amazing coworkers at Agilec for over 25 years.
In the late 90’s, due to the changing labour market, Labour Adjustment services was becoming increasingly necessary. I worked with several employers/transitioning staff in the GTA – helping them to identify and prepare for a new career. I worked alongside each individual and facilitated the customization of a plan to include career decision making (career assessments, transferable skills analysis), training (on-the-job, apprenticeships, post-secondary), job search tools, strategies, and techniques learning and development (i.e., resumes, cover letters, interview preparation, networking, recruitment), and job maintenance. To this day, I continue to provide customized Outplacement Services – career transition services to meet the needs of everyone I work with. I have the privilege of turning an often unfavourable experience, into something that is new and favourably challenging.
“Outplacement services is offered when someone is displaced from a job for whatever reason: termination; restructuring; layoff; downsizing; or merger/acquisition.”
At Agilec, the Outplacement Services we offer are customized to suit our customer – be it the employer or displaced employee. More and more, employers are providing departing employees with a budget to choose and purchase their own Outplacement Services provider/package. I occasionally receive an Outplacement Services referral from a lawyer since they are occasionally hired to represent the displaced employee following a termination.
Although the term “Outplacement” has become more common place, Career Transition Services is another phrase that is occasionally used to describe the service of Outplacement. Over the years, I’ve become increasingly knowledgeable on the insurmountable value for employers and departing employee(s) to providing/accessing Outplacement Services. For the employer, when the displaced staff learns and implements competitive job search tools, strategies, and techniques, and ultimately secures employment more quickly, it mitigates risk – risk meaning lawsuit. Equally important, although employers may provide severance pay to a displaced worker, we need to keep in mind that most people require other assistance to create new opportunities. For the remaining staff who are watching and listening, they feel better knowing that their co-worker is being taken care of as they leave the employer. It maintains the employer’s level of internal customer service and supports a culture of wellness and well-being.
Over the course of my career, I’ve had the pleasure of providing individualized outplacement/career transition services for thousands of individuals and employers in the Greater Toronto Area and more recently, across Canada. Due to the many advances in technology, I’m able to work effectively with people from coast-to-coast-to-coast. My career has truly fulfilled my ‘want’ to work with people while ‘making a difference’.