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Why Outplacement Matters Even In A Full Employment Economy

Even though the US economy is at record low unemployment, we still see news stories about massive layoffs from companies such as Ford, General Motors, Nissan, HP, and Deutsche Bank.

These layoffs are a result of business restructures – a necessary but unfortunate part of the modern-day business cycle. The job cuts are also a result of the accelerating rate of change taking place where firms find themselves having to make tough decisions about the impending disruption to their business model.

Companies developing their restructuring strategies may consider not providing outplacement support, thinking that their impacted employees can easily find work in this excellent economy.

I want to advise these HR Leaders to continue to offer outplacement services.

Here are my three reasons why.

A Great Economy Cannot Overcome A Bad Resume or LinkedIn Profile.

Even though there are over seven million open jobs online, a bad resume will not help a job candidate get through the applicant tracking software. A lousy resume will undersell the value of a candidate and can add weeks or months to their job search.

A poor LinkedIn profile will also cause a candidate to go unnoticed by recruiting and hiring managers. I recently saw an example of how an effective LinkedIn profile makes all the difference. Our candidate, a Microsoft-certified Full Stack Developer, had a LinkedIn profile that had all of his high-demand skills buried and unlisted. The candidate did think LinkedIn would be beneficial in his search since he had previously found all of his jobs through referral.

With some work, this same candidate’s revised LinkedIn started generating multiple emails from recruiters urgently looking for Full Stack Developers.

Outplacement consultants are professionals who specialize in helping candidates sell value, communicate clearly via their resume and LinkedIn profile, and develop effective job search strategies. This expertise helps candidates in any market – good or bad.

Building Networks, Not Walls, Will Help The Company In the Long-Term

There is a unique opportunity for forward-thinking leaders to demonstrate corporate citizenship by providing outplacement assistance. These smart leaders acknowledge that even though their layoff decision was necessary, they recognize that their responsibility to the impacted employees goes beyond their last official day of employment.

Displaced employees represent potential networking opportunities that can benefit the firm. They can be sources of new business, strategic alliances, potential talent that can be rehired, and ambassadors for the company. 

Corporate outplacement services can help former employees find a new position faster than doing it on their own. Outplacement has also been proven to help candidates negotiate better compensation packages. The net result is that many outplacement candidates end up in a better place and can put their experience in a more positive light.

A great way to think of former employees is by thinking of them as alumni. They can help companies with positive word of mouth. I recently listened to a great webinar by William Tincup, who said:

“It’s your brand. You have to own what your former and current employers say about you. It is important to treat people as well when they leave as when we are recruiting them. The relationship is for the long term.”

Smart employers treat their former colleagues with respect, dignity, and compassion. Workforce reductions or even performance-related departures are never easy. These layoffs involve people who are friends, longtime associates, mentors, and collaborators.

While the business rationale for downsizing may involve cost reduction, consolidation, or business liquidation, we cannot separate the accounting/finance part of the decision from the personal impact that it has on the individuals involved.

Employer Branding Matters

The robust economy that we are now in is a reminder to every leader that employer branding is essential for talent acquisition – reviews on Glassdoor.com that blast the company management will provide a big-time disincentive to potential hires. Being dismissive about what is said about your company online is taking the express lane to irrelevancy.

The consultants at my firm have worked with hundreds of people who were understanding and appreciative of the outplacement assistance that their firm provided them. They correctly realized that their job loss was due to a business decision that was not related to their performance. The steps their former company took to help them get through their transition showed that the company knows how to do the right thing.  

Summary

Outplacement benefits are not just for bad markets. Having professional outplacement consulting support help candidates to find jobs quicker and develop career strategies that will benefit them in the long-term. Continuing to make investments in outplacement will smart organizations create stronger employer brands and communicate why they are great places to work.

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