I have been laid off from my mid-level management position and have been offered outplacement assistance or an extra month of salary. Which should I take?
The first thing you need to discover is the nature of the outplacement agreement. If you're being offered a deluxe package, you can look forward to personal attention, including testing, contacts, and individual coaching, as well as an office and clerical support for your job search. Conventional wisdom says the job search takes one month for every $10,000 in salary, so this kind of intensive help can cut months off the time it takes to find a suitable position. If you were to purchase this kind of assistance yourself, it would probably set you back far more than one month's salary.
On the other hand, the kind of outplacement services usually offered to mid-level managers involves mainly group meetings and standard advice. This can still be helpful, but it's less clear that it justifies giving up cold hard cash. It's wise to give it a pass if you're already a savvy job seeker, with an up-to-date résumé, professional contacts, and a sense of the market. Outplacement, ironically, has nothing to do with "placing" you in a job. It can, however, be worthwhile if you need the discipline of group meetings to keep your job search on track.
Losing a job is never easy. It's fortunate that you have an employer who's willing to provide help.