There's no turning back. Once your company has been badmouthed online or gets the dreaded negative review, it’s basically carved into eternal Internet stone. And there’s no escape – over a third of employees turn to online review websites like Glassdoor.com to publish their grievances. Once the review goes public (and hopefully not viral), no amount of money can delete it from your company’s online footprint.
As we see it, the best remedy is prevention. Enter: Outplacement. Outplacement is essentially a fancy term for anywhere from one month to a year of career coaching for employees you’ve decided to fire or let go.
Offering “career transition support,” as it is sometimes called, improves camaraderie with the outgoing employee (potentially nipping the urge for negative online reviews – or worse, a lawsuit) and can even decrease unemployment insurance premiums. It also builds rapport and loyalty with current employees, who know they won’t be left in the dust if their department is downsized. In the end, it’s simple: outplacement is good PR, protects a company’s reputation as a desirable employer, forestalls any lawsuits, and helps your former employees back on their feet after a job loss.
The 5-billion dollar outplacement industry is growing – and fast. Whether it’s effective or not depends on which service provider you choose. Capa is uniquely positioned in that we both hire employees through our corporate recruitment and offer career transition services for job seekers.
Below, we’ve put together our list of the top traps to avoid so you don’t end up with an opportunistic outplacement firm offering nothing but fluff.
- Trap #1: Choosing a company that doesn’t track job placement
Shockingly, many outplacement firms do not track the number of job seekers that actually find jobs while using their services. Placing a laid-off employee into a new job is the basic goal of every outplacement firm and should be the first and foremost priority.
With a number of outplacement firms making it big and pulling in well over $115 million in revenue per year, some have turned the service into more of a cattle call and should be avoided at all costs. Watch out for firms that drag out the job search process and then upsell you or your former employee with more tools when no new job is realized.
- Trap #2: Not Doing Your Homework
The extent of coaching ranges as much as the price tag. Some outplacement firms offer access to exclusive career search portholes (like a personalized Indeed.com); a few even offer “unlimited” one-on-one coaching with certified professionals. Nearly all include some level of resume editing or writing. Packages range from bare-bones offerings for $500 total, to deluxe bells and whistles for a cool $25,000 fee per outgoing employee.
But here’s where it gets sticky: companies are paying for a service they don’t receive; the outgoing former employee is the one who reaps the benefit – or lack of – from outplacement. This can mean companies get sucked into paying huge premiums for less than stellar quality services without their knowledge.
Be sure your former employee gets the professional and individualized approach they need in the increasingly competitive job market by finding a service that offers personalized attention and a timeline for it. Pro tip: Gather opinions and experience from your former employees about the outplacement firm you’ve chosen for them.
- Trap #3: Using a One-Size-Fits-All approach
As with any industry that grows rapidly, quality doesn’t always keep pace. Horror stories of rushed job search training, canned job advice, and boilerplate resumes and cover letters run the gamut. It doesn’t get any worse than hearing of an outplacement firm that sends out nearly identical cover letters for all of its clients. Protect your outgoing employee from this embarrassment by doing your research.
If you’re seeking to support outgoing employees (read: if you plan to fire someone, now or ever), be sure to find an outplacement firm that offers one-on-one coaching, resume critiques, and tailored interview coaching. Many offer even more hands on support through virtual, video and even text messaging assistance.
- Trap #4: Not using outplacement at all
The bottom line is that navigating the increasingly competitive job market is only getting more complex. We’ve seen countless job seekers diving in with four page resumes, unprofessional LinkedIn’s and worse. Frankly, they don’t stand a chance against the truly polished and motivated candidates they’re up against. That’s why companies around the world are increasingly embracing the service as part of severance packages. More than two-thirds of 265 U.S. companies surveyed in 2009 use an outplacement service, at an average cost of $3,589 per employee, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Offering your former employee a leg up on their journey to finding their dream job can only reflect well on your company and is a good investment from all angles – so long as you find the right firm to provide quality outplacement. It pays to have a professional (and a good one) on your company’s side to support your past, present and future employees, and to protect your online reputation at the same time.
Interested in protecting your company’s online legacy through outplacement services? Contact us for more information.
Erin Schneider is the writer-in-residence and resume consultant who manages our Capa Career Coaching department. Since 2005, Erin has been writing and copyediting for a diverse range of publications from international business journals to Fortune 500 marketing content. Erin has a journalism degree from New York University and studied resume & interviewing strategies in a six-month course in New York City. She has also managed hiring and recruitment for online magazines in America and Brazil. Connect with Erin through email and Linkedin.