A History of the Outplacement Industry 1960-1997 from Job Search Counseling to Career Management: A New Curriculum of Adult Learning

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Virginia Tech


This study traced the history of the outplacement industry from 1960 to 1997 through the stories of seven outplacement firms, the three organizations that emerged from the industry and the changes that occurred in the design and delivery of outplacement services. The history was studied in the context of the changes that occurred in the social and economic environment that formed the American workplace between 1960 and 1997 and the subsequent impact those changes had on corporations, their employees and the outplacement industry. Outplacement has its roots in the job search counseling service designed and delivered by Bernard Haldane following WW II to assist veterans with their reentry into the post war workplace. In the 1960s, entrepreneurs expanded Haldane's service to include consulting with corporate managers on how to terminate employees, remove them from corporate payrolls and support their job search efforts until they found new positions. They called this service outplacement.

The primary data for this study came from personal interviews with industry founders, leaders and practitioners, the archives of the AOCFI, industry newsletters and published materials. The study traced the changes that occurred in the reasons corporations purchased outplacement services and the affect those changes had on the way corporations bought and distributed outplacement services for their terminated employees. The study traced modifications outplacement firms made to their services in response to corporate demands and the affect those changes had on the future of the industry. The study traced the evolution of outplacement services from a personal consulting service to a new curriculum of learning resources from which corporate buyers of outplacement services selected services to meet the diverse learning needs of terminated employees. The study traced the growth and decline of the industry, the subsequent impact on the industry's trade, professional member and certification organizations and the difficulties those organizations experienced as they attempted to respond to their members changing needs.

This study traces a history of the industry from the collected stories of industry founders, leaders, practitioners and industry archives and relates those stories to the rise and decline of the outplacement industry.



Career consultants, Career Management, Job Loss, Downsizing, Job Transitions