Assessed to Death?
Some organizations in the executive outplacement industry do not offer career assessment services, claiming that leaders have been “assessed to death.” It is true that many executives have taken leadership assessments by the time they arrive at an executive outplacement firm, but a career assessment is something different.
Completing a career assessment at various stages of one’s career is good practice as work values, needs and perspectives can change over time. The outplacement period is an excellent time to take stock, determine what is important now, and evaluate the next steps. The rich black-and-white data provided by assessments anchors the possibilities that are floating around in the candidate’s mind. It enables candidates to construct and ask important “due diligence” questions during the interview process. The data also allows for evaluating opportunities that enter the pipeline during the job search.
A robust battery of career assessments can answer candidate questions that address the following:
- The best point of entry into the organization
- “Best match” work environment/culture
- Target company size
- Role preferences – i.e., start-up, turnaround or fine-tuning management
- Strengths to leverage
- Industry preferences
- Broader career options
- Entrepreneurial orientation
- Leadership style
- Natural derailers that can surface while onboarding
- Longer-term career or semi-retirement planning
A career assessment, along with a solid personal branding process, can inform and validate the candidate’s job search strategy. It can inform how the resume is worded, how the LinkedIn profile is positioned, how other marketing tools are crafted – even who is selected as references. It offers insight into target companies (industry and size). It is particularly important if an executive outplacement candidate has been with one company over a long period of time – or if the last job or two didn’t stick. Long-tenured candidates can make assumptions about what represents a good fit. Candidates with short tenure need to understand what went wrong, and what to be mindful of in order to avoid the same experience again.
There are different types of leadership assessments that we are often asked to conduct, including customized assessment batteries for selection (pre-hire), development, leadership skill building, onboarding, and executive coaching. During a job transition, however, a robust career assessment can focus and energize the search, and help to ensure a quality placement. So, have executive outplacement candidates been “assessed to death?” We don’t think so.