Deconstructing the outplacement process

May 08, 2024 by Elizabeth Openshaw

Choices, choices, choices. It can be a minefield out there. You want the best outplacement provider money can buy, so your departing employees get the best possible start to their new working life. So how to choose one of the many outplacement providers out there?

While it’s important to understand where your money is going, it’s equally as vital to get a grasp of the overall outplacement process to ensure you choose the one that’s right for you and your employees. Going through a life-changing event like a career transition can be overwhelming for staff, whether it’s due to a business restructure or wanting to grow professionally. That’s why having the right guidance and support throughout the outplacement process is invaluable. Getting to grips with the steps involved in the outplacement process is crucial for those individuals seeking new career pathways, as well as for organisations wanting to  seamlessly navigate those workforce changes.

It’s a complex process, with not all providers following the same route, making it hard for HR departments to decide on the outplacement provider that makes the most sense for their employees’ needs. Not to worry though – this article will help demystify the outplacement process, shedding light on the details while pinpointing the importance of each stage to empower individuals in pivoting into a successful new position. There are even 10 things to look out for when choosing an outplacement provider, so let’s get stuck in straight away.

Outplacement process steps

Let’s start by delving into the typical outplacement process, looking at the stages when departing employees begin their journey with dedicated outplacement support. 

Assessing employee needs

The first phase is exploring and identifying each employee’s skills, objectives, and ideal job choice in order to pinpoint any areas that need special attention. This initial get-together, often referred to as an evaluation or needs assessment meeting, gives the career coach a way in which to ascertain the most effective approach for that particular person. The aim is to secure a position that meets their financial needs and brings professional gratification. Every person is unique, with different aspirations, so it’s vital that the assessment really drills down into their background and future dreams in order to set the right tone for the rest of the outplacement process. Discovering if the employee wants to stay in their current sector, explore new areas, take a step-up, or look at relocating are just a few areas that need addressing and clarifying at this point. 

Optimising the CV

Once the initial assessment has been completed, the next step is looking at the jobseeker’s CV to see if it’s relevant and up-to-date. While this is an important part of the outplacement process, it’s incredible how much variation there is available from different outplacement firms. Some get jobseekers to repeatedly revise their CVs as they go along, but timing is key here.  

At Careerminds, we use expert CV writers, with years of experience behind them, to optimise, update, and write new CVs for participants, ensuring the documents align with job descriptions and current guidelines. Our bespoke Perfect Match software identifies and incorporates specific keywords, which enhances the effectiveness of CVs, helping jobseekers to score highly with applicant tracking systems (ATS), used by most large corporations to filter applicants. This increases the chances of the CV being visible and leading to interviews.

Optimising the LinkedIn profile

Having a comprehensive LinkedIn profile that sells you and your skills is vital in this day and age. Recruiters are regularly scouring LinkedIn, looking for suitable candidates for open positions. In order for your employees to catch the eye of a recruiter, they need to include keywords relevant to the position they’re seeking. Part of the outplacement process should include a period of time dedicated to optimising every section of a LinkedIn profile, including the summary, work history, education, and professional development. The summary is the best way to introduce yourself while incorporating keywords that relate to your perfect position.

A case study

Consider Arminder, a Product Manager, who’s recently been made redundant. He needs to regroup and hone in on what his true skills are. His career coach is able to draw out those crucial talents so, together, they add in keywords that make his profile come alive. Arminder updates his summary to include expertise in product management and product development in artificial intelligence (AI). Because of this, when recruiters are searching for these skills, Arminder’s LinkedIn page pops up right in front of their eyes, increasing his chances of being contacted for open positions.

This activity is particularly significant for executive candidates, as many roles at this level are filled through networking or talent sourcing instead of the traditional job application route. 

If the outplacement firm you choose by-passes this step during the outplacement process, it could be to the detriment of your higher-level employees.

Preparing for interviews

An impressive CV and well-drafted LinkedIn profile can certainly open doors, but it’s at the interview stage where the deal is sealed. If your departing employees can’t muster up a stunning performance during an interview, they might get caught in a vicious circle of constant rejections. Outplacement providers should offer full training that covers different interview techniques, complemented by career coaches who provide valuable advice to participants on top of that.

The coaching services provided by your outplacement provider should ideally delve into all types of interview scenario, with participants receiving customised training that takes their industry and level into account.

For example, a Software Developer doesn’t necessarily need to know about behavioural interview questions, but should be prepared to tackle technical queries and simulations presented during an interview. This unique training ensures that employees are well-prepared when going into an interview.

Online resources and tools

While working on updating CVs and LinkedIn pages, participants are additionally allowed to access eLearning tools and training to increase their knowledge and improve their job search navigation efforts. These user-friendly tools include webcasts, seminars, and in-depth papers, among other things, and should be readily available to participants throughout the outplacement process. This is because these tools enable individuals to continually enhance their understanding of the job search, while improving their chances of landing a relevant role.

It’s about getting the right mix of a people-centred approach and virtual support, so these tools can be accessed at any time, from anywhere.

Placement and reporting

Throughout the outplacement process, up to the successful placement of a participant, Careerminds guarantees transparency by delivering comprehensive reports to our clients. These reports are important, as they are a real representation of the client’s return on investment (ROI). If participants aren’t engaged, or the job search process is dragging on and on with no end in sight, it’s not a great investment for the company.

At Careerminds, via the client-side online platform, there is access to real-time data on participant surveys, exit interviews, and programme results, all of which offer invaluable insights into the effectiveness and impact of the outplacement programme.

10 tools that should be included in the outplacement process

1. Employee engagement

Is engagement with your departing employees one of the top priorities throughout the outplacement process? Is the process intuitive and easy for a participant to navigate? Is there guidance if needed? If the services on offer aren’t user-friendly, it’s going to be a waste of your employees’ time and a waste of your money.

2. Round-the-clock accessibility

Can services be accessed in multiple ways, at any time of the day or night, and from any location worldwide? This flexibility is a must, depending on employee need, as being able to access services out-of-hours is key for time-hungry workers.

3. Flexibility

Flexing to suit the needs of participants might come at a hefty price for some outplacement providers. Not so at Careerminds. We offer unlimited support “until placement,” which means we are there by the participants’ sides until they secure new roles. Don’t settle for anything less on this score.

4. That human touch

Are participants required to work solely on their PCs with no contact from an actual human being? That’s not going to be conducive to a successful job search. You need that human contact and a service personalised to each individual. While it’s great to be able to access online tools whenever you want to, you need that connection with a career coach to guide you even more. Effective outplacement providers incorporate this throughout the programme, with an element of personal attention and customisation.

5. Service-aligned

Is the provider a true professional when it comes to outplacement? Check how much of their business is aligned with outplacement provision. If it’s only a small part, it might be wise to look elsewhere. We all want and expect great service, but it’s especially important when deciding on which outplacement provider to choose, as it’s of benefit to both your company and the employees who are leaving.

6. A strategic partner

A partner supports and guides. You want your outplacement provider to be by your side every step of the way through the process of making staff redundant, as you want to do right by them. Ensure your chosen provider will be a service partner, not just a vendor, as well as offering comprehensive outplacement services for job transitions.

7. Technology support

For jobseekers, technology is critical in this day and age. We can’t live without it, and you should certainly settle on an outplacement provider who makes the best use of technology to support the whole of the outplacement process. Research how much they spend on R&D and how often they update the technology they use. If there’s no investment in cutting-edge tech, this could stall the outplacement process.

8. Strategic alliances

If you have an outplacement provider that acts as a strategic partner, you also want it to cultivate external alliances that aid the outplacement process. Look for one with advantageous partnerships that can benefit transitioning employees.

9. Proven track record

What’s the track record of the outplacement provider? Do they have proof that their methods work? What have existing and former clients got to say about them? When choosing a provider, search for proof that their services work. While outplacement providers have different ways of proving this, it’s worth finding one that can be verified. Comparing results from outplacement providers against available statistics can simplify the task of choosing the best programme.

10. Price points

At the end of the day, the price has got to be right for you and your company. But fees vary from one provider to the next, so you need to check the details of what’s actually included. Select a provider who will work with you all the way. Careerminds offers competitive rates, as well as all of the above tools.

When searching for an outplacement provider, ensure all of these 10 things are included, at the very least. You want to be able to have a real understanding of what’s offered at every step of the outplacement process, so you can select the right one for you and the employees who are leaving. 

Key pointers for the outplacement process

We’ve considered the typical stages of the outplacement process, covering needs assessment, CV and LinkedIn optimisation, prepping for interviews, and using online tools. These are all important to keep front and centre when shopping around for an outplacement provider that fits your brief. Together, they offer a 360 degree approach that empowers your departing members of staff to navigate through a successful career transition. 

Remember these key pointers when choosing:

  • A detailed outplacement process: Recognise that it’s a multi-faceted process, from needs assessment to CV and LinkedIn optimisation, interview prep, the use of online tools and training, and the final placement.
  • Successful placements: The end game is to secure successful placements for participants, by guiding them through the process step-by-step.
  • Clear and concise reporting: Transparent reporting, including surveys, exit interviews, and programme results, means you won’t be left in the dark when it comes to knowing where your employees stand and if your return on investment has been worth it.
  • Careful consideration: When choosing an outplacement provider, consider all factors, such as engagement, accessibility, flexibility, personalisation, pricing, and service focus to ensure the best fit.
  • Proof of effectiveness: Evaluate outplacement providers based on proof, including metrics, engagement rates, testimonials from clients, and satisfaction measures, to ensure the service remains effective throughout the process.

Is your organisation considering outplacement services? Then contact us at the earliest opportunity to find out more. 

Elizabeth Openshaw

Elizabeth Openshaw

Elizabeth Openshaw has over 12 years of experience in the job search sector, including extensive expertise in outplacement and CV reviews. Previously a Journalist on national publications, she is Director of her own company, OpenDoor CV Expertise Ltd. You can connect with her at Elizabeth Openshaw | LinkedIn.

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