Outplacement Services: What Every Job Seeker Needs to Know
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Accountability. Encouragement. Emotional support. Career guidance.
An opportunity to get back on track, and back to work.
Those are some of the many benefits of outplacement services.
In today’s rapidly changing job market, layoffs have become an unfortunate reality for many employees. Losing your job can be a stressful and difficult experience, and it’s important to have the right resources and support to help you navigate the transition.
What Are Outplacement Services?
That’s where outplacement services benefit laid-off job seekers.
Outplacement services are a set of programs and resources designed to support employees who have been laid off or made redundant. Companies typically offer these services to help ease the transition for employees who are facing job loss, providing them with the tools and guidance they need to navigate the job market and secure new employment successfully.
Outplacement services may include career counseling, job search assistance, resume and cover letter writing support, interview coaching, networking opportunities, and other job search resources. These services can be invaluable for workers who may be feeling overwhelmed, uncertain, or discouraged about their job prospects after a layoff.
Emotional Benefits of Outplacement Services
Losing a job is hard. It’s emotionally draining and stressful. The impact of a layoff can be felt by an individual and their family, both professionally and personally, for months.
“Many workers have never been laid off before and may not know the difficulties of finding new employment while being unemployed,” says Colleen Madden Blumenfeld, Vice President, Public Relations, Research for Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based global outplacement & career transitioning firm.
“Not only does outplacement help workers organize their job search, but it also offers ongoing support and another person off which to bounce ideas during the process. Most job searches last between one and three months, and they can be arduous and full of uncertainty and disappointment.”
Maureen E. O’Malley Rehfuss, SPHR, SHRM-SPC, ACC, is a former HR executive who is president and CEO of Career Partner International Twin Cities and Vantage Executive Services, which provide personalized talent management services including coaching, leadership development, HR consulting, and outplacement. She works with job seekers in transition every day.
One of the core benefits of outplacement services is the ability of career coaches to help prioritize the emotional well-being of individuals who have lost their jobs, says O’Malley Rehfuss.
“This is because losing one’s job can be very challenging, like losing a loved one or going through a divorce,” she said.
Julie Shore understands the emotional side of a job loss. As president of Career Development Advisors, Shore works with both individuals and organizations and provides a variety of outplacement services plans for organizations. Shore, also an SHRM-SCP-Certified Professional in HR by the National Human Resource Management Association, worked in HR early in her career, and “has been on the other side of the table, having to let people go,” she said.
Utilizing outplacement services can help job seekers get a fresh perspective from a trained professional that understands what the job seeker is going through.
“Job loss is emotional and doesn’t happen the same way or at the same time for anyone,” says Shore.
“It affects individuals and their families. One day you can be fine, and three weeks in, you can be struggling. As a coach, I am here to listen, guide and help them get back on track.”
Career coaches provide an objective sounding board to listen and guide job seekers through the process—and its many challenges—of getting back to work.
“I always tell the talented individuals I coach that they have amazing talent and skills,” Shore added. “It’s just that roles evolve and organizations change and sometimes their talents are not aligned with the current organizational needs. It doesn’t mean they don’t have value to offer—they most certainly do—but in another place and/or role.”
Job Search Tips for Recently Laid-Off Workers
Getting started and moving forward in the job search process after a layoff is a challenge. That’s where a good outplacement services provider can make a difference, according to Peggy Hogan, Vice President of Talent Services for Purple Ink LLC. Hogan manages recruiting, outsourcing, and career transition for the Carmel, Indiana-based HR Solutions provider.
“A career coach can get the process started for you,” says Hogan. “They can help you move forward when sometimes it’s hard to figure out where to start.”
Those who are active, engaging, and put in the time and effort get the most benefit from using outplacement service providers. To start the relationship with your outplacement services provider off right and ultimately succeed and land a new job, follow these tips:
- Engage with the services right away. “Some workers feel they do not need help in their job searches or want to take a break before looking,” said Madden Blumenfeld “This tends to be a mistake. Unfortunately, the longer workers have an employment gap, the less likely employers want to hire them. As soon as the services are offered to you, even if you still have time before your last day, start the process.”
- Talk to your coach as much as needed. A layoff is one of the most difficult things to happen to someone, and the process is full of ups and downs. Job seekers must have a network of people to vent to so they can show their most polished, professional selves to networking contacts and in interviews. “While friends and family are good outlets for this, they are close to your situation, may not be objective, and can burn out from the stress of your search,” says Madden Blumenfeld. “Your job search coach provided in outplacement services is a perfect person to let off steam, talk about all the minute details of the process, and get constructive, objective feedback.”
- Take responsibility for your search. While outplacement is an incredible service to help you find your next role, ultimately, you are in charge of your search. Deciding which companies to apply to, whether to accept an offer, and how hard you network is on your shoulders. Use outplacement as a resource but know that your search is only as productive as you decide it will be, says Madden Blumenfeld.
To get the most from an outplacement services provider, the job seeker needs to be committed. Establishing a routine that prioritizes the services and tasks required is crucial to success.
“This is something we discuss out of the gate,” says Shore. “I give them grace and time to process but if they want to get back to work as soon as possible, finding a job becomes their primary job and I work with them to establish a routine that fits their goals.”
What Type of Services Are Provided Through an Outplacement Firm?
A good outplacement services firm and its career coaches should provide clients with these services:
- Accountability. Being held accountable can help one stay on task. “If you want this—ask for it,” advises Hogan. You should also receive coaching and support to stay on task throughout your search.
- Encouragement. “It’s easy to feel down during the job search,” says Hogan. “A good career coach will know how to motivate you and offer you guidance on the next steps when you feel you’ve hit a wall.”
- Ideation. They help you discover what careers and jobs might be a good fit for what you are seeking, says Hogan. Where can you look? How can you connect with a recruiter or hiring manager?
- Interview prep: “Do not miss this rare opportunity to have someone tell you—no holds barred—how your answers are being heard,” says Hogan. “They’ll also review and provide feedback on the non-verbal messages you are sending.”
- Job search tools: Worksheets, application tracking, and other technologies/programs to keep organized and on task. Additionally, they should offer a LinkedIn profile review, tips, and updates.
- Multi-channel job search strategies. Your coach should help identify companies that meet your career goals and objectives.
- Networking tips, advice, and support. “Make sure the coach knows your target marketplace and can make connections for you,” says O’Malley Rehfuss.
- Resume writing assistance: A well-crafted chronological resume that showcases your career history and achievements and that is designed to include keywords and information is key to helping the resume stand out when being submitted through an applicant tracking system (ATS) or read by humans. The career coach, or member of the outplacement services providers team, should work with you on updating and rewriting your resume. “This is a huge stumbling block for many job seekers,” said Hogan. “Let the career coach take that burden off you.”
- Other services to look for. Robust online tools to supplement the actual coaching support and salary negotiation tips and coaching.
Mistakes to Avoid When Using Outplacement Services Firms
Job seekers who aren’t successful when working with outplacement services often have similar traits. The number one mistake?
“Not listening or hearing the feedback or advice that you are getting from the career coach,” says Hogan.
There are also those who are angry at their former employer and want to remove themselves from that company and anything associated with it as soon as possible, so they do not engage in outplacement services out of spite.
Do not go that route.
“Your former employee will be billed for the service, so you might as well have them pay for it,” says Hogan. “Not using the service doesn’t spite your former employer; it’s just not smart not to take advantage of the service.”
And finally, remember, the outplacement services firm provides the tools, tips, strategy, and resources. But ultimately, the job seeker has to put in the time and work to land a new job.
“Only you can apply for jobs,” says Hogan. “A career coach can give you tools, tips, a great resume, and guidance, but if you don’t network, apply for jobs, or prep for an interview—it’s all for naught.”