Imagine being let go of your job. There are hundreds of thoughts going through your mind. You feel unsure of what’s going to happen in your future, how long you’ll be out of a job, how to support yourself, etc. It’s a stressful time with too many uncertainties. It’s also really hard for your employer. As a business owner, our employees are like family. We take so much pride in being able to support our team members so that they can feed their families and do what they love with their money. Letting people go isn’t a choice we want to make. In fact, it’s usually not a choice. It happens because the business needs to cut down on costs so that the business can survive. Hopefully, it’s only temporary, but that doesn’t lessen the impact on the employees being affected.
During this unfortunate situation, companies will have a severance package which includes benefits and pertinent information about your exit. Some companies will also include a service called outplacement.
Outplacement is somewhat a newer service and yet it is still outdated. It started post-WWII in the 60s when veterans returned home. They needed support to market their skills and find work. Since the start of the first outplacement firm in the 60s, there are now hundreds of firms that specialize in supporting employees transition from one job to another.
What is common about these firms is that they focus on things like updating resumes and interviewing since a lot of these individuals may have been out of touch with the skills to do so. This is critical in the job search process; however, after serving hundreds of clients looking for work, we have found that resume updates, Linkedin updates, interviewing, negotiating and other tactical job search activities are all things that come after one deals with the emotions of being let go. It’s important to first identify what they offer, their strengths, values and find jobs that align with who they are.
Kudos to all employers who are offering outplacement services. You are ahead of the game. You are protecting your brand and doing the right thing. What I want to challenge you to do is not just have a service that is a check the box exercise. If you’re going to offer outplacement services, use a service that has a human-centered approach. It’s not just about updating resumes. It’s more than that. The outplacement process needs to take the whole person into consideration.
Historically, outplacement services are offered to help companies save money on unemployment insurance and to mitigate lawsuits. These general benefits are to help the company save money. However, companies who put people first understand that they need to take care of their employees. Word of mouth is powerful, and one disgruntled employee can tarnish a company’s brand. Employees are people who have emotions and stress and fears and need support during a very stressful time. If you care about your people, your company brand and want to do the right thing by your employees, then let’s think about outplacement a little bit differently. Let’s think about it as a high-touch and personalized service to support people holistically.
Here’s why we all need to take a more human approach when providing outplacement:
- This is a stressful time for everyone. When an employee is told they are being laid off, it’s difficult not to panic. This is the point when they need empathy and compassion. They need time to process what has just happened, take a step back and formulate a plan and figure out how they will move forward. Before we jump into which job they’ll apply to (which outplacement firms will typically do), we should focus on meeting the person where they’re at. Helping them to process and focus on what they need to do next. They need a certified coach who is experienced in helping people process information, reflect on their emotions and formulate a plan to move forward.
- Employees will remember how you helped them. During peak experiences in one’s life, you tend to remember the moment. Such as your college graduation, your wedding, first kid, etc. Being let go is a peak moment in that it has a lot of emotions and change. The quality of service you provide and support to help your employees transition to their next role will be something they will always remember. Support your employees by offering high-quality outplacement service. Do your research, find a company that has a process, that takes a holistic approach, and has certified coaches that are going to help your employees have a smooth transition to their new role.
- People need to reset and know who they are. You’ve been an excellent performer your whole life and all of a sudden, you’ve been laid off. This is a shock to you and to your identity. This causes people to question who they are and might be suffering from identity loss. One of the first things we do during career transitions is support individuals in figuring out who they are – what are you passionate about? What are your strengths? What do you value? What’s your purpose – how do you want to make an impact? When we go through this coaching process with our clients, we find that they have a whole new sense of self and confidence in who they are. It’s these insights that help our clients with their job search, resume updates, linkedin, interviewing, etc. Tactical and technical skills are important but what employers really want to know is who you are as a person and WHY you want the job. This is why we want to focus on the core parts of what makes you, you.
- Everyone has their own strengths. Instead of using your past history to define your next role, leverage your strengths and lead with them during your job search. You’ll be more successful this way. Traditional outplacement services will use a computer algorithm to help you find jobs based on your existing history. This is taking into consideration only a few data points. That means that if you’ve always been in accounting, your next role will be in accounting. What if your passions and strengths are more people orientated and you’ve always been excited about project management? We see lots of clients who come to us because they feel stuck in their careers and want to find something new based on what they can succeed in. Our first priority is to understand the client and start the job search with a blank slate. We start by exploring all possibilities related to one’s strengths and passions – what we call the sweet spot. This opens up countless and viable possibilities. Only then, can we narrow it down to the best career options and then start the resume, linkedin and interviewing process.
- It’s about the individual, not how many resumes you can crank out. Outplacement companies brag about having unlimited resume rewrites and career coaching sessions. The way to be successful in getting a new job is to not apply to hundreds of roles. It requires being strategic about where you’re networking, the quality of your LinkedIn profile, who you are connected to. At Ama La Vida, our approach is to open up our networks and support our clients to have high-quality touchpoints with their prospective employers. Outplacement service firms offer resume support and one point of contact – generally your resume writer. During a stressful time and to maximize chances of success, having unlimited resume rewrites isn’t going to do it. We need to understand how we can position you to stand out when there are hundreds of applicants applying for the same role. Having a kick-ass resume is going to get you only so far.
When you go through a difficult and stressful time in your life, you remember the people who were there to listen, to support you, to cheer you on and to help you step by step to move forward. This is something that current outplacement services lack. They go straight into tactical solutioning. We need to approach outplacement with a high degree of personalization and quality. It’s our job to ensure every employee is carefully matched with a coach who is going to be a good fit. We need certified coaches who are going to be with the client throughout their job transition process. We need coaches who will support the client from the very beginning, help them figure out who they are, increase their confidence and find jobs based on what they can offer and will succeed in.
If you are an employer and can offer such high-quality service to your employees, imagine how highly they will speak of you. Imagine how much faster they will land a job. Imagine how likely they will be to come back to you when you’re ready to re-hire.
Don’t include an outplacement service just to offer it. Do the right thing. Do your research. Make sure it meets people where they are at. Human beings who have just gone through a traumatic and identity shaking experience. Give them the support they deserve.