From Assessment to Placement: Demystifying the Outplacement Process

January 29, 2024 by Cynthia Orduña

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As a buyer looking for the perfect outplacement provider, it’s important that you understand where your money is going and what the overall outplacement process looks like to ensure that you choose the right one for you. 

Embarking on a career transition, whether due to organizational restructuring or personal growth, can be a daunting journey for employees. In such times, the guidance and support provided by the outplacement process becomes invaluable. Understanding the intricate steps involved in this process is crucial not only for individuals seeking new career opportunities, but also for companies aiming to navigate workforce changes seamlessly.

Not all providers follow the same outplacement process, making it hard for human resources departments to choose the one that makes the most sense for their own needs. In this article, we’ll delve into the comprehensive roadmap of the outplacement process, shedding light on its intricacies and highlighting the importance of each stage in empowering individuals for a successful career pivot. We will also share the items you should consider when shopping around for the right outplacement partner for your organization.  

Steps in the Outplacement Process

Let’s begin by delving into the typical outplacement process, examining the stages that unfold when your departing employees commence their journey with dedicated outplacement support.

Needs Assessment

When departing employees begin the process with their outplacement firm, it is crucial for their outplacement coaches to engage in close collaboration. The first step is to explore each individual’s goals, skills, and desired job types and roles to identify areas of the job search that may require particular attention.

This initial meeting–often referred to as a needs assessment or evaluation–allows a skilled career coach to assess the most effective approach. The aim is to not only secure a position that meets the individual’s financial requirements for sustaining their lifestyle, but also one that brings professional fulfillment.

Given the uniqueness of each individual and their diverse career aspirations, this assessment marks a pivotal step and sets the tone for the entire outplacement process. Questions about whether the person wishes to remain in their current industry, explore new opportunities, pursue an executive-level role, or consider relocation are just a few aspects that the career coach will seek to clarify at this stage.

Resume Optimization

Following the initial assessment, the outplacement coach proceeds to collaborate with their participant to ensure their resume is up-to-date. While updating a resume may seem like a straightforward step in the outplacement process, the approach can vary among outplacement firms. Some firms require job seekers to repeatedly revise their resumes with guidance provided along the way. Although this may eventually result in an improved resume, the immediate goal is to create one that swiftly and effectively secures a job. 

At Careerminds, we enlist the expertise of resume writers to draft new resumes or edit existing ones for our participants, ensuring they align with current guidelines and job descriptions. To enhance the effectiveness of resumes, we also utilize our specialized Perfect Match software to identify and incorporate specific keywords. This strategic optimization helps participants navigate Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) used by many companies to filter job applicants, significantly increasing the likelihood of resume visibility and interview scheduling.

LinkedIn Optimization

The typical approach to the LinkedIn optimization process closely mirrors that of resume writing. Recruiters regularly scour LinkedIn in search of suitable candidates for open positions. Similar to an ATS (Applicant Tracking System), the use of keywords is crucial. Participants must optimize their LinkedIn profiles with keywords relevant to the positions they are seeking and their location.

A robust outplacement program should dedicate time to work with participants on optimizing every section of their LinkedIn profile. This encompasses their entire work history, education, certifications, and the often overlooked section: the summary. The profile summary provides an excellent opportunity to articulate a participant’s skills and include target keywords related to their desired roles.

Consider the example of Sarah, an operations manager who has recently been laid off. Collaborating with her career coach, she gains a deep understanding of the skills and keywords crucial for her LinkedIn profile. Sarah updates her summary to highlight her expertise in overseeing operations for mid-sized manufacturing plants specializing in large-scale construction equipment, such as cranes. As a result, when recruiters search for individuals with this specific operations expertise on LinkedIn, Sarah’s profile emerges as one of the top choices, significantly increasing her chances of being contacted for these open roles.

This activity holds particular significance for higher-level positions within an organization. Many executive roles are filled through talent sourcing and networking, rather than traditional job search listings. If your outplacement firm overlooks this step in their outplacement process, it could be a disservice to your higher-level employees.

Interview Prep

While an impressive resume and well-crafted LinkedIn profile can open doors, it is the interviews that ultimately seal the deal. Without a stellar performance in interviews, participants may find themselves caught in a perpetual cycle of rejections. It is imperative that your outplacement provider offers comprehensive training covering various interview techniques, complemented by trained career coaches who are capable of providing valuable interviewing advice to their participants.

The content and coaching provided by your outplacement firm should be extensive, covering all types of interviews and diverse methodologies. Employees should receive tailored training based on their specific field and seniority level.

As an illustration, a software developer should not only be equipped to handle behavioral interview questions, but also be prepared for technical queries and simulations that may be presented during the interview. This specialized training ensures that employees are well-prepared for the unique demands of their field and level of expertise.

Online Tools and Resources

While they’re working on updating their job search materials, participants are also given access to eLearning tools and training that can help them better understand and navigate their job search online. These tools typically encompass seminars, weekly webcasts, in-depth papers, and various other resources.

This should be a continuous process that is always available to the participant. Offering user-friendly online platforms that enable clients to continually enhance their knowledge of job hunting allows them to engage with their outplacement service at any time, ensuring maximum benefit. 

Essentially, it serves as a knowledge hub that the client, with the assistance of their coach, can utilize to comprehensively cover all aspects of their job search. By granting individuals virtual access to this information from any location worldwide and at any time, the outplacement process becomes more adaptable and accessible, thereby increasing the likelihood of the participant securing a new role.

Placement and Reporting

Upon successful placement of the participant in their desired new role, and throughout the entire outplacement process, Careerminds ensures transparency by delivering comprehensive reports to our organizational clients. 

Reporting holds paramount importance as it serves as a tangible representation of the organization’s return on investment for their outplacement services. Through our client-side online platform, organizations have access to real-time data encompassing participant surveys, exit interviews, and program results, offering valuable insights into the effectiveness and impact of the outplacement program.

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10 Things Your Outplacement Provider Should Include in the Outplacement Process

1. Engagement

Does the outplacement provider proactively engage your employees, both initially and ongoing, and how? Is their overall outplacement process intuitive? Is it easy for an employee to know what to do and when? Are there guides to help participants through the outplacement process? If the services aren’t simple to navigate and easy to understand, you are wasting your company’s money and your employee’s time.

2. Accessibility

Does the provider offer flexible hours throughout the outplacement process? Can their services be accessed multiple ways, at any time, from anywhere in the world? Depending on your employee’s needs, the flexibility to access services during off-hours–including nights and weekends–can be invaluable.

3. Flexibility

Does the provider offer the flexibility to effectively meet your demand for the service through the entire outplacement process? Is the duration and timing of their services flexible, such as foregoing term limits and providing unlimited support until placement? Look for a provider that is willing to be innovative to meet your needs, and has the ability to ebb and flow with your succession and workforce plan.

4. Personal and Personalized

Is there a human element to the service? Is the service personalized to each individual? Virtual benefits aside, losing the personal touch in a career transition program is almost never a good idea. The most effective providers incorporate this smoothly throughout the outplacement process as a baseline, and also have some element of personal attention and customization within the outplacement offering.

5. Service-Focused

What is the provider’s service delivery model throughout the outplacement process? How much of their business is focused on outplacement? What is the account management structure and their experience? How will they communicate with you? All of your HR technology vendors should practice great service, but it’s especially important when looking at outplacement providers.

6. Strategic Partner

How will the provider support you more strategically during a reduction in force (RIF) or layoff? Finding an outplacement provider that can be a service partner, as well as offer a product or platform for your transitioning employees, is a baseline need for your organization. With all the discussion surrounding HR being an integrated and efficient function, it makes sense to look for a partner, rather than just a vendor.

7. Technology

How does the provider leverage technology to support their service and accelerate a person’s transition throughout the entire outplacement process? Are they using best-in-class practices such as gamification? Social media? Personalization? How much do they spend on R&D? How frequently do they enhance their technology? In today’s job seeker world, technology is critical for both speed and efficiency. A lack of focus and investment in the most advanced technology throughout the outplacement process will be a detriment to both your employees and the company.

8. Strategic Partnerships

What strategic partnerships has the outplacement provider established throughout their outplacement process? Look for a vendor who has advantageous partnerships. Outplacement providers should be able to point to partnership opportunities that will benefit both the job seeker and your company as their client.

9. Proof Points

What metrics can the outplacement provider supply? How do they measure satisfaction and program success? What are their–current and former–clients saying? When considering a provider, look for proof that their services work throughout the entire outplacement process. While many outplacement providers have different ways of proving their system works, at the very least you should find one that can be verified. Comparing the results from an outplacement provider against widely available statistics can help simplify the task of choosing the best program.

10. Pricing

What is the outplacement provider’s pricing model? What services are included in the pricing? Outplacement prices vary widely and the devil is in the details. Look for a provider who is willing to understand your needs and able to work flexibly with you on creative solutions and pricing throughout the outplacement process.

All of these 10 items should be addressed by a provider when discussing their outplacement process. It’s important to ask questions similar to those above to gain a solid understanding of what to expect in every step of the outplacement process and choose the right provider for your organization.

The Outplacement Process: Key Takeaways

We’ve now explored the typical stages of the outplacement process, from the initial needs assessment to resume and LinkedIn optimization, interview preparation, utilization of online tools, and the participant’s final placement in a new, meaningful job. Keep these in mind as you shop for your ideal outplacement partner to ensure that they will provide a thorough outplacement process for your employees. A well-rounded approach is essential for empowering individuals through a successful career transition.

Here are the key takeaways to remember when choosing an outplacement provider:

  • In-depth outplacement process: Recognize the multifaceted nature of the outplacement process, from needs assessment to resume and LinkedIn optimization, interview preparation, online training and tools, and final placement.
  • Placement success: The ultimate goal is not only to guide participants through the outplacement process, but to secure successful placements in their desired roles.
  • Transparent reporting: Clear and transparent reporting, including participant surveys, exit interviews, and program results, offers organizations valuable insights into the return on their investment for outplacement services.
  • Consideration is key: When selecting an outplacement provider, careful consideration of factors such as engagement, accessibility, flexibility, personalization, pricing, and service focus is crucial to ensuring the right fit for your outplacement needs.
  • Proof of effectiveness: Evaluate outplacement providers based on proof points, including success metrics, engagement rates, client testimonials, and satisfaction measurements, to ensure their services are effective throughout the entire process.

If you’re ready to find the right outplacement firm for your organization, click below to speak with one of our experts and learn more about Careerminds’ outplacement offerings.

Speak with an Outplacement Expert

Cynthia Orduña

Cynthia Orduña

Cynthia Orduña is a Career and Business Coach with a background in recruiting, human resources, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. She has helped 50+ companies around the world hire and retain talent in cities like LA, SF, NY, Berlin, Tokyo, Sydney, and London. She has also coached over 300 people, from entry to senior levels, in developing their one-of-a-kind career paths, Her work has been featured in publications such as Business Insider, The Balance Careers, The Zoe Report, and more. To learn more you can connect with Cynthia on LinkedIn.

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