There are so many outplacement companies out there, and each one of them does things a little bit differently. Leaving you (the buyer) unsure of what outplacement activities are essential for your employee’s success when you let them go.
So, what outplacement activities do you need to look out for?
Well, the short answer is: it depends on a lot of different factors, such as job type, job title, experience level, geographic location, budget, etc.
Regardless of all of those factors, there are some activities that should be standard to any outplacement program that you provide your employees. In this article, we will deep dive into each of those activities, and then I will talk about other activities that make sense for more specialized occasions.
But, before we get started with explaining each of these activities, make sure to download the pricing information for our outplacement programs with the button below:
Now, let’s get started with some of the more standard outplacement activities your provider should execute on with your laid off employees.
Many outplacement providers skip this activity in the programs they provide. This can be a huge mistake. Proper onboarding allows the outplacement coach to gain all of the information necessary about a specific employee. What are their goals? How much experience do they have? Do they have any extenuating life circumstances that would cause the coach to change the speed or diversity of their program?
For example, if you have an employee that enters into the outplacement program but is already midway through an interview process, it wouldn’t make sense for the coach to focus on outreach to potential employers. They would need more assistance with interview training.
2. Resume Writing
Did you know that, on average, a recruiter only spends six seconds looking at a resume?
I know, I was shocked too!
But that is why it is so important that your outplacement program has a great resume writing program for your laid off employees. I would argue that this is one of the most important activities in the outplacement process.
Expert resume writers do research about what skills a person in this position should have on their resume. Like a search engine optimization expert, they find keywords related to these skills and include them in a resume so that any Application Tracking System (ATS) and any recruiter can make the connection that this candidate is a good fit for the job.
Many ATS systems scan submitted resumes based on these keywords and then assign points to candidates that are most likely to be the best fit for the job based on their occurence in a resume. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance that a resume writer understand the key skills necessary for the type of roles that a participant is applying for.
This activity can take more or less time depending on the time-frame of the position the participant is applying for. For example, a very niche technical role may take a resume writer more time than an entry level sales role.
While it is important to be mindful of having enough time in this process, you should work with an organization that makes getting this activity done in a timely fashion a priority. The more time your outplacement provider spends on crafting a resume, the more time your employee is out of a job. Your providers average turnaround time should be around 3-5 days.
3. LinkedIn Optimization
The methodology behind this process is very, very similar to that of resume writing.
Recruiters are searching on LinkedIn every day for positions that they are trying to fill. Similar to an ATS, keywords are important! Participants should have their LinkedIn profile optimized for keywords related to the positions that they are looking for, their location, etc.
A solid outplacement program should spend time with the participant working on optimizing each section of their LinkedIn profile. This includes all of their work history, education, certifications, and the most forgotten section: the summary. A summary is a great place to explain a participants skills and target keywords related to any potential job that they are interested in.
Let’s look at an example:
Sarah, an operations manager, has recently been laid off at your organization. She works with her career coach to really understand the different skills (and thus the keywords) she should be hitting on her LinkedIn profile. She updates her summary to include her skills, which explains her expertise in running the operations for mid-sized manufacturing plants specializing in large scale construction equipment, like cranes. When a recruiter searches for someone with this type of operations expertise on LinkedIn, Sarah’s profile will populate as one of the first choices, increasing her likelihood to be contacted for the open role.
This activity becomes particularly important the higher up an organization an employee is. Many high level positions are fulfilled through the sourcing of talent and networking, instead of through listings on job search sites. If your outplacement firm doesn’t include this activity in their program, it is really doing a disservice to your higher level employees.
4. Online Training
In today’s technology-driven world, most participants don’t want to drive into a brick and mortar location to attend a seminar about the job search process. Today’s job searchers want information quickly and on their own time frame.
Since job search education is one of the foundational activities for any outplacement program, it is important that a firm has online training to assist with this. We recommend a program that has online modules that contain both video and text for all types of learners. These modules should be self-paced, and always accessible so that the participant can review the information whenever it is needed in the future.
5. Group Training
While having online, self-paced content is important, it is also important to appeal to every type of learner that could become a participant.
Some people learn better in a group setting. Others may have trouble sticking to a self-paced program due to life distractions. That is why a firm should always offer a group training option as an activity in their outplacement program.
As discussed above, a lot of organizations offer this type of group training at a brick and mortar locations in a group setting. While some people may enjoy this, we have found through our own research that the stress of having to drive to a brick and mortar location outweighs the positives of attending a seminar or workshop for today’s modern worker.
That’s why we recommend that provider’s offer this activity in an online setting. Our firm offers regularly occurring webinars about different topics relevant to the job search, such as salary negotiation, interview skills, etc.
Your provider should also be able to offer this group training activity in a specialized format for your specific employee population. For example, if you have an employee population consisting mostly of scientists, your outplacement firm should be able to offer a webinar series on researching for, applying to, and interviewing for positions in the scientific field, specifically for your employees.
Having the flexibility to offer both group and individual training is a necessary activity for an outplacement firm.
6. One-on-One Career Coaching
Unfortunately, many traditional outplacement firms don’t provide one-on-one career coaching to their participants. When a participant has a career coaching session, they either call into a hotline and get patched in with an open career coach at that moment, or they drive into a brick and mortar location and meet with whoever is in the office that day.
This just doesn’t make sense with the current state of the workforce. Employees are becoming more specialized than ever, and a one size fits all approach doesn’t make sense for career coaching. A coach needs to truly understand the prospects job search process, from start to finish, to be able to provide insightful advice.
Not having this continuity with a coach provides a really bad user experience for the participant. It can leave them feeling frustrated if they have to explain their progress and job search strategy every time that they meet with a new coach.
This can cause them to drop out of the program completely, which is a waste of the capital your organization has invested in the outplacement program. And worse, they could become so frustrated with the whole experience that they become disgruntled and post negatively about your company online, which will damage your employer brand.
When trying to decide on an outplacement program for your laid off employees, make sure that one-on-one career coaching is an activity that is included.
7. Until Placement Support
Most traditional providers only offer outplacement support for your participants for a certain time period. From the research we have gathered, usually this time frame only consists of three months.
Why is this bad?
Well, in today’s modern workforce, it can take a long time to find a position that is the right fit. And depending on the location and seniority of the participant, it could take several months. That’s why it is important to offer 'until placement' support.
Traditional providers start a participant's “3 months” from the minute they onboard, and depending on the providers schedule it could take weeks before they meet with a coach, get their resume back, or receive interview training.
This type of process just doesn’t work with the specialization and customization that is necessary for today’s job seeker. Every participant enters into an outplacement program at a different stage in their job seeker journey, and every job seeker has a different journey based on their field and level of seniority. So, outplacement firms need to curtail their activities based on these different characteristics if they want to provide a useful program to every single job seeker.
8. Interview Training
This activity is one of the most important in your employee’s outplacement program. While a great resume and LinkedIn profile can get someone in the door, interviews are what close the deal.
Without a great interview, participants will be stuck in the never-ending interview rejection cycle.
Your outplacement provider should have content surrounding interview techniques, as well as trained career coaches who can provide advice to participants.
Your firm’s content, and their coaches, should be trained on every type of interview and the various types of interview methodologies. Your employees should receive all the training that they need based on their field and level of seniority.
For example, a software developer should be trained not only on behavioral interview questions, but also on technical questions and simulations they might ask of him or her while in the interview.
9. Job Feed
With so many job boards on the internet, it can be confusing knowing where to look for open positions. That’s why it is important that your outplacement provider has a tool that can show the most relevant open positions to the participant that are available online.
One of the biggest concerns of job seekers is time management. It can be exhausting to check several different job boards with different keyword variations, just to find a handful of positions that could be a good fit.
This can be extremely frustrating if a participant has a very specific or niche position. For example, Tina is a network infrastructure engineer that specializes in retail environments. She looks for positions that fit her expertise on the most popular job boards. She goes through all of that work, and only finds 3 positions that are a good fit based on salary and location.
If Tina would have used a job feed that helped her with this, she could have saved more time on research and put more energy into the actual applications.
10. Social Network
Social networks are an important part of finding a job - believe it or not. That’s because they are how people network today. Twenty years ago, people would go to in-person events to meet contacts in their industry.
And people still do that, but now they also do the same thing online. If your outplacement firm doesn’t have social networking activities in their program, they aren’t living in the modern world of work.
In our research, we found that integrating our platform with LinkedIn allowed for the most seamless experience with social networking. This integration allows participants to connect with each other during the job search process. They can offer each other support, advice, and make connections for each other to get in the door for a job.
11. Work Style Assessment
Many outplacement programs focus on activities that are directly related to finding a job.
You’re probably thinking: “Duh! Shouldn’t they?”
Well, if they aren’t doing more than this they aren’t helping their participants as much as they possibly could be. It is important that participants understand what their strengths and weaknesses are so that they can be fully prepared for any obstacles that come up through their job search process.
In our research, we have found that a DISC assessment is the best way to prepare participants for said obstacles. For example, Doug might have a high S score, meaning that he has a supportive work style. Because of this, he would know to avoid potential jobs and environments that were unpredictable and insecure. Doug would also be able to prepare for any interview questions that might allude to his comfort (or discomfort) with situation that were outside of his personality norm.
12. Reference Checker
Wouldn’t it be the worst possible case scenario to give someone as a reference, for them only to give your potential new employer bad feedback?
Well, that is why this is such an important activity for your outplacement firm to include in their program. Your firm should have a tool that allows participants to request reference information from any number of potential references, then analyze the data to make sure that they are using their references to the best of their abilities.
For example, if a participant receives feedback from a reference that is more harsh than expected, that participant knows not to list that contact as a reference in any of their future applications.
Also, if said participant knows that a reference gave them feedback that matches well with the requirements for a specific job, but not with another job, the participant can make smart decisions about which references to use in which situations.
The above activities were general to all types of participants. The following are specific to certain populations.
13. Resume Promoter
Did you know that in certain places across the web you can upload your resume to be found by recruiters? Well, your outplacement provider should have the tools to be able to help your employees get their resume out to as many places as possible so that they can be found.
We found that this was super helpful for more entry level and hourly positions, as these are the types of roles that most recruiters will source for from these sites. Because of this, we developed a tool that allows our participants to post their resume to all of these places at once.
This activity can be extremely helpful for your employees that fit this population, as it can give them quick visibility to recruiters searching for workers at this given moment.
14. Executive Networking Membership
This is a great activity for any participants who are at an executive level role at the organization. Your outplacement firm can either do this in-person or via phone conferences. It allows executives to bounce ideas off of each other and open doors for each other. Since there are only so many executive positions across the country at any given time, it is fairly likely that if someone in this group is interested in one of those positions that the someone else in the networking group has a connection they can leverage to get them in the door for an interview.
Also, at this level in an organization, many times positions are not listed online to be applied for. This networking group can give each other tips about positions that they have heard are open that others may not know about because of this lack of visibility.
15. Job Search Support
This is also a great activity for any participants who are at an executive level role. If someone in the C-suite, or the at the VP level, is laid off, they might not be use to doing the more monotonous work associated with the job search process.
Think about the high level executives you know. How many of them have executive assistants who do a lot of this type of work for them?
Your outplacement firm can provide a program that has a job search support activity, that will help these high level executives with the work associated with finding their next role. For example, Kelly, a former COO, might ask her career coach to help her find a list of organizations in her geographic area that fit her ideal company where she would like to work. Or she could get support in finding a list of jobs from across the country that match her expertise.
The Final Say
Phew! That was a lot of different activities to cover. Overwhelmed? Don’t be. This article gives you a great start when it comes to activities you should review with your current outplacement provider or while shopping for an outplacement provider.
In general, it is best to remember that your outplacement provider should focus on a couple key things:
- Providing a program that fits with today’s modern world of work. This includes both in-person and virtual capabilities, as well as content and environments that appeal to all types of workers. A one size fits all approach just won’t cut it anymore.
- The ability to easily customize an outplacement program’s activities based on the situation. Your outplacement provider should be able to customize based on your employees expertise, field, and levels of seniority. And they should be able to customize for multiple different types of employees for each of your layoff events, not just one customized solution for each event.
When reviewing an outplacement firm and the activities their program incorporates, make sure to ask yourself if they focus on these two key things, and you will be on the right track!
Want to learn more about layoffs? Check out our notification guide: