Downsizing can be a turbulent period for companies. Although it’s an inevitable part of business, downsizing can trigger bitter emotions in redundant workers which can then result in lawsuits, loss of brand trust, and various other reputational hazards.
To avoid these unwanted consequences, HR departments work side-by-side with outplacement firms and consultants to ensure no one is negatively affected by the decision to downsize.
Therefore, choosing an outplacement consultant that has your best interests at heart is crucial. But with so many outplacement firms out there, finding the right outplacement consultant is easier said than done. This is why we’ve put together a cheat sheet that will help you in your search for outplacement consultants.
Let’s get started with the basics.
What Do Outplacement Consultants ACTUALLY Do?
Outplacement consultants are professionals who offer a broad range of services to terminated employees with the ultimate goal of transitioning them into new employment. Their main responsibilities are to advise, assist, and guide the employee in the right direction.
Outplacement consultants are responsible for helping people who have been laid off with their job search process. This includes interview coaching, resume writing, and LinkedIn optimizing. Outplacement consultants should be experts on these subjects and understand how to create a specific job search strategy for any person.
Although the end goal is placement, it’s not the outplacement consultant’s job to 100 percent locate new jobs for the individual. Instead, it’s their job to prepare the individual for the job search process, namely helping them develop the right skills and mindset needed for a successful career transition. While they will definitely help find outbound employees opportunities, it's more of a teaching process to ensure that the client has all of the tools needed to successfully navigate an ever-changing job market.
Get to Know the Outplacement Process
Think of the outplacement process as a journey that takes you from A to B. However,it’s not a straight line kind of a journey. Think obstacles, boulders, and plenty of detours along the way.
Ultimately, the quality of the outplacement process determines whether or not your journey will be an enjoyable one or an utter nightmare. You have one shot to get it right so make it count.
Here is what a good outplacement process looks like when handled by an experienced outplacement firm:
Step 1: Initial Assessment
When outplacement consultants first meet with a displaced employee, their task is to assess the individual’s circumstance in order to understand where the person is now and where they should be headed.
A great career coach knows that the initial meeting is crucial in establishing a trusting relationship. Therefore, the career coach should make every minute count and ask the terminated employee a number of relevant questions.
Do they want to find the same or similar role? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Do they qualify for early retirement? Do they want to start their own business? Every answer is a step forward in the outplacement process.
Step 2: Tailored Approach
After the initial career assessment stage, outplacement consultants need to create a tailored outplacement program for the individual. This is because a one-size-fits-all type of outplacement program can do more harm than good.
For instance, someone might need more help tweaking their resume while someone else needs more time preparing for interviews. Therefore, good career coaches should pay attention to what the employee needs to ensure a smooth career transition and a positive outplacement experience.
Step 3: Personal Branding
One of the biggest problems newly laid off employees have is presenting themselves to potential new employers.
This is where outplacement consultants come in. Following the initial assessment and outplacement development stage it’s time for personal branding. It’s up to the career coach to help displaced employees get noticed by potential employers and influential people in their industry. Outplacement consultants are responsible for tweaking the employee’s resume, updating their LinkedIn account and introducing them to various networking events.
All with the purpose of gaining social awareness. Essentially, personal branding is all about mastering the art of ‘selling’ yourself. So it’s a good idea to work with an outplacement firm that has expertise in personal branding.
Step 4: Online Tools
Access to online job searching tools and learning resources helps outgoing employees take charge of the outplacement process. Generally, online outplacement tools and resources include seminars, webcasts, in-depth papers and job search tools.
Some outplacement firms like Careerminds kick it up a notch and offer virtual outplacement services to ease the whole outplacement process and maximize client engagement.
Employees can use virtual outplacement services to access online tools and resources, measure their progress and schedule meetings with career coaches as needed. It’s up to them to set the terms.
Step 5: Interview Preparation
For some terminated employees it’s been a while since their last job interview. That’s why interview preparation is an important feature of outplacement services. It prepares displaced individuals for the real deal.
Additionally, it will give them a boost of confidence and they’ll know what to expect once they head into a real interview. Nevertheless, the time dedicated to interview preparation should be determined case-by-case.
Step 6: Successful Placement
You know your outplacement process has been a success once an employee has transitioned into a new role.
After all, it’s what everyone is aiming for when using outplacement services. But keep in mind that amateur outplacement firms like to implement time limits and retainer fees to charge a higher outplacement cost.
Careerminds is the only outplacement firm whose career coaches work with individuals until they are placed in a new role.
Learn to Recognize Great Outplacement Consultants
When choosing outplacement consultants to work with, formal qualifications are not enough to base your decision on.
There’s more to outplacement consultants than the degree they hold. They need to have other personal and professional qualities as well. Here are the key characteristics that all outplacement consultants must possess:
- Empathy – Job hunting can be described as anything but easy which is why the individual in an outplacement program needs all the support they can get. Therefore, the ability to empathize with clients is a quality every career coach should possess.
- Insight – Displaying a deep understanding of the outplacement process helps outplacement consultants take outplacement services a step further. Career coaches should listen to their gut feeling and read between the lines every now and then. Having insight and intuition helps outplacement consultants understand their client’s strengths and weaknesses and come up with the most suitable outplacement program for them.
- Communication – Every person reacts differently to outplacement processes. As a result, outplacement consultants should know how to establish effective communication, including all types of communication methods - verbal, nonverbal, and written communication. This will help build a formidable relationship that will ensure effective outplacement services and bring in positive results.
- Flexibility – No two individuals are the same so it’s important for the career coach to be flexible and be able to easily adapt to every situation. Outplacement firms should tailor their outplacement services to meet the needs of their clients. If the displaced employee needs guidance after hours, over the phone or in person, it’s up to the outplacement firm to fulfill these expectations.
- Tolerance - Outplacement consultants should inspire individuals to aim beyond their current job description. This means the career counselor should keep an open mind at all times and support the employee even when it might not be the smartest move.
- Confidence – In order for displaced employees to believe in themselves, outplacement consultants should first believe in themselves and their expertise. Signs of confidence will help assure the employees that they are in good hands.
- Persistence – Outplacement consultants should have a can-do attitude so they can deal with all the obstacles that may arise during the outplacement process. Failure is never an option, and it’s up to the outplacement consultants to prove it.
Outplacement consultants play the most important role in the whole outplacement process. They need to give individuals a sense of worth and encourage them to learn valuable lessons from every professional rejection.
Don’t settle for a mediocre outplacement program that barely scrapes the surface of the job market. Look for an outplacement firm that eats, sleeps and breathes outplacement instead. You deserve nothing less.
Take back the reigns of your company by working with outplacement consultants who actually know what they’re doing and have the numbers to prove it. Schedule a free demo.