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Individual differences in outplacement success

Harry J. Martin (Department of Management & Labor Relations, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA)
Dennis F. Lekan (Corporate Leadership Associates, LLC, Westlake, Ohio, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 1 August 2008




Although outplacement consulting and career transition services have become a standard management practice and are almost universally provided when terminating executives, these services have not been carefully evaluated and their benefits are not clearly understood. The purpose of this paper is to consider the role of individual differences in determining outplacement success using the Big Five framework as measured by the occupational personality questionnaire (OPQ).


The behavior of a sample of 53 executives was examined during outplacement as well as their success following reemployment.


The study's hypotheses were largely supported with agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience making a significant contribution to the understanding of outplacement effectiveness both during and after the transition.

Practical implications

These results suggest that providers should assess individual differences as part of career transition counseling and question recent trends toward making outplacement a commodity service. They also suggest that the diagnostic and counseling skills of a trained professional help to secure a successful outplacement experience and that the process should recognize the unique needs and personality of individual clients.


This paper considers the behavior of actual executives in career transition. It also extends previous research on the Big Five typology to executive outplacement and provides evidence of the usefulness of the OPQ as a measure of these personality traits.



Martin, H.J. and Lekan, D.F. (2008), "Individual differences in outplacement success", Career Development International, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 425-439.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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