A response to The Apprentice – Supporting your leavers in the real world

Who else watched the start to the new series of The Apprentice on Thursday night? I have to admit, I haven’t seen the last few series’ and having watched the first episode of series 17, I quickly remembered why. But with a professional curiosity and not much else to do on a Thursday evening, I thought I’d give it a go.

Now of course I know it’s a tv programme, I know that situations are engineered for comedy effect and viewing figures, and having looked on Twitter and LinkedIn, I know there are thousands of people that were looking forward to the show’s return and really get something from it.

However – I work in career coaching, and for me The Apprentice has really effectively illustrated some of the common problems I encounter on a weekly basis with my coachees.

Number 1 – preparation matters.

Wearing a nice dress and a pair of heels won’t cut. In episode 10 of each series the candidates are grilled on their CV and business plan, usually resulting in them falling apart under pressure and scrutiny. Don’t be fooled into thinking in the real world you will get to the final 5 without putting the work into the foundations of your application. In reality you’re unlikely to even get shortlisted.

Number 2 – there are other ways to do business.

For some people wearing a suit or having a full face of makeup and impeccable hair makes them feel in control, authoritative, and is important for success. But it’s not the only way! Business dress is changing, suits and ties for many many businesses are a thing of the past. Working from home requires you to be well presented of course, but not dressed for tv. If you don’t feel comfortable presenting yourself like you see on the telly that’s more than ok – most of us aren’t power dressing on a daily basis. The producers could at least put one of their candidates in a pair of flat shoes to be *slightly* more relatable.

Number 3 – representation.

The Apprentice always starts with an equal split of men and women, and you can tell there’s been some awareness of ethnicity in this year’s selection of candidates, although this could be better. But that’s where the diversity ends. Where are the 40yr old mums who have had a career break and now want to pursue the great idea they’ve had for a business? Where’s the candidate that has a physical disability or uses a wheelchair? Where’s the 60 yr old who wants to set up his own business using his wealth of knowledge and experience from a successful career? Just because you can’t see them on tv doesn’t mean you’re not able to be an entrepreneur or can’t strive for your ambitions.

If this is our blueprint for business, success and entrepreneurship it’s no surprise people feel daunted if they’re unexpectedly entering the job market, and this is why outplacement support makes such a difference to people – and remains such a necessary support to leavers. We can educate people about the reality of the working world. We can take away the fear of this polished, cut-throat environment that isn’t representative of the staggeringly vast majority of businesses. We can make sure people have solid documentation to back themselves up and are prepared for the most intensive of grillings. We even help people with what’s best to wear for their interview(s). And most importantly and rewardingly, we help people strive for more; encourage them that they can be successful; to reach for their dream. Just because you don’t fit the mould of the so-called entrepreneurs we see in the media doesn’t mean you aren’t suited to setting up your own business or leading an organisation.

If you’ve got any recommendations for something else I can watch of a Thursday evening I would love to hear from you. And much more importantly, if you’re having to make the difficult decision to let people go we would love to talk to you about how we can help your people move on positively and successfully in the real world. Simply visit our Outplacement Support Services page, call us on 01491 414010, or complete the contact form below.


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