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The future of outplacement is personal

May 29, 2024
By Jeffrey Doucet

Credit: Getty Images/ ljubaphoto

In an increasingly dynamic job market, career outplacement is a vital resource for people transitioning between jobs, and for employers making changes to their workforce. Historically, outplacement was built around generalized support focused on career coaching, with standard advice and resources to help displaced workers find new employment. But in today’s economy this does not go far enough. Individuals now require personalized strategies, advanced skills training, and continuous learning opportunities to effectively navigate their career transitions and to secure meaningful employment.

As the nature of work has evolved at an unprecedented pace, employers’ needs are shifting, with demands for more specialized and advanced skills at every level of employment. At the same time, there is an increasing recognition that individuals will have multiple jobs across their careers – the World Economic Forum notes that the average North American will have twelve jobs by the age of 55. For many, this will include entirely new careers.

Therefore, effective career outplacement must pivot towards personalization. This shift is essential to effectively address the unique needs of individual candidates, and to deliver a qualified, dynamic workforce that positions business for growth.

The modern workforce reflects a changed world with rapid technological advancements, shifting economic landscapes, and diverse employment models. Traditional career paths are becoming less common, with many individuals experiencing non-linear career paths and frequent job changes. This is true at every career stage, from new entrant to mid-career, and beyond. In this environment, a generic outplacement approach is inadequate. A person’s career journey, skills, and aspirations are unique, demanding a more personalized form of support, where customized career coaching, individualized job search strategies, upskilling, and tailored resumé and interview preparation combine to ensure people receive the support that best fits their specific situation.

Technology plays a crucial role in this, using AI and data analytics to help tailor support by analyzing career histories and job market trends to suggest optimal career paths and job opportunities. Online assessments can identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for development, allowing for more targeted career learning and coaching. These technologies make it possible to offer highly personalized and interactive outplacement support, regardless of industry or geographic location.

A personalized approach considers an individual’s specific career history, strengths, weaknesses, and professional goals. Personalized career support can also address unique challenges, such as transitioning to a new industry or coping with the emotional toll of job loss.

By providing tailored advice and support, such outplacement helps individuals navigate their career transitions more effectively and with greater confidence.

Skills-based job matching, built on real-world data matched with a multifaceted, nuanced approach significantly improves the chances of finding a suitable and fulfilling position. For example, a mid-career commercial real estate professional may have decades of experience and industry credibility, but a job change offers opportunity for a reset, leveraging personalized coaching, career resources and insights on current market opportunities to enhance their profile and secure a position that furthers their career.

Here too, a personalized approach that recognizes the importance of learning new skills is essential for people in their current role, and certainly upskilling to meet the needs of future employers. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), over half of surveyed employees say they need more opportunities to develop their skills and improve their work.

For people changing jobs, updating their resumé is a common starting point. But a resumé is more than just a summary of past employment; it is a marketing tool that should highlight an individual’s unique skills and experiences. As part of a suite of personalized resources, outplacement helps people craft compelling resumés tailored to their specific industry and the roles they are targeting. Similarly, personalized interview preparation customized to the questions and scenarios likely to be encountered in the person’s desired job profile improves a candidate’s ability to present themselves effectively to potential employers, increasing their chances of securing job offers.

In a climate where a positive organizational reputation is critical, employers who invest in personalized outplacement support are positioned to enhance their brand reputation, maintain positive relationships with former employees, and reduce legal risks associated with layoffs.

How a company treats its people during layoffs has a significant impact on its public image. Adopting an empathetic, personalized outplacement approach demonstrates a company’s commitment to its employees’ well-being, even during difficult times. Layoffs are challenging for all parties involved, but organizations that take a personal approach foster goodwill and enhance the company’s reputation as a caring and responsible employer.

Without this, employers risk the wrath of negative feedback from online platforms such as Glassdoor, and with this, lowered employee morale and potential challenges in attracting the best talent.

By providing tailored support that addresses the unique needs of each departing individual, HR leaders can significantly improve the outcomes of career transitions. This approach benefits employees by equipping them with the tools and confidence they need to succeed in their next career step, and it benefits employers by enhancing their brand reputation, maintaining positive relationships with former employees, and reducing legal risks. In an era of rapid change and complexity, personalization is not just an advantage – it is a necessity for effective career outplacement.

Jeffrey Doucet is the chief executive officer of Thrive Career Wellness Inc.

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