Outplacement specialist speaking to a job seeker online

In-Person vs. Virtual Outplacement Services: Which Is Better?

When companies first started offering outplacement services, the internet wasn’t around in the way we know it today – and it certainly wasn’t a place where people searched for jobs. So naturally, laid-off employees would meet face-to-face with an outplacement specialist for career guidance and job search assistance.

Now that online job searching is the norm and 85% of job applications are submitted online, virtual outplacement services are becoming far more popular. But is virtual outplacement really better than in-person outplacement services? We’ve looked at three factors – accessibility, adoption, and effectiveness – to compare in-person vs. virtual outplacement services.


Career advisor helping transitioning employee at an outplacement cetner



Most traditional outplacement firms require job seekers to schedule in-person meetings with a career coach in their nearest city. While this may be convenient for those who live in metropolitan areas, it could be a burden for others – like people in rural locations, those taking care of loved ones, or laid-off employees who are working a temporary job and can’t meet during normal business hours.

With virtual outplacement services, job seekers can schedule sessions whenever it works for them and meet with their career advisor from their home. Plus, many virtual outplacement firms have online job search platforms and other career resources accessible to job seekers at any time, allowing them to jump in right away.


Man searching for job at home using an online job search platform



Accessibility and convenience are the keys to adoption. And if you’re investing in outplacement services for your employees, you want to make sure they’re taking advantage of it. People are more likely to engage with an outplacement program if they can use it on their own time and without impediments.

Virtual outplacement services remove some of the barriers that in-person outplacement programs may present – like having to travel for an appointment with your career coach or receiving limited access to job search resources. While most in-person outplacement services have an online component, many do not offer a job search platform that can be accessed 24/7.

For laid-off employees who have jumped into a temporary job or have other responsibilities to balance, they may not see the value in an outplacement program if they perceive it as something that will cost them time. They may opt instead to search for a job themselves. Virtual outplacement gives job seekers the autonomy to start their search immediately and with little extra effort.


Job seeker meeting virtually with a career advisor



The argument against virtual outplacement services is that remote meetings with a career coach are less effective than face-to-face coaching. However, if the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that virtual communication doesn’t have to be impersonal and virtual sharing technology can be just as effective as in-person communication.

Job seekers can get personalized career advice, resume pointers, interview tips, and demonstrations on how to use a job search platform just as they would in a face-to-face coaching session. Plus, without the overhead costs associated with brick-and-mortar operations, virtual outplacement firms can invest more in elements that will provide value to the job seeker, like advanced technology and ongoing training for their career coaches and resume writers.

In-person outplacement may also limit the number of career coaches available to the job seeker, meaning they’ll be placed with someone based on location not based on their needs. Virtual outplacement services offer more flexibility because career coaches can be matched to job seekers based on their industry, goals, and experience level without being limited by their location.


If you’re making a decision on in-person vs. virtual outplacement services, consider your unique situation, the needs of your transitioning employees, and what makes the most sense for your company.

by: Sarah Ballow
August 07, 2020