employee shaking hand with new boss

The Best Outplacement Firms Have These 4 Traits

A strong outplacement program is not only an invaluable resource for displaced employees, but also a strategic way for companies to protect their reputation after a downsizing event and invest in their employer brand. As a result, we’re seeing more and more companies adding outplacement services to their severance packages.

Like most great things, outplacement is a serious investment, and your company can’t afford to waste money on a program that isn’t producing results. To guide your search for a firm that will help you build a strong employer brand post-layoff, we’ve identified four traits that every great outplacement firm should have.


woman smiling during job search with career advisor


1. The best outplacement firms are personal.

Not every person needs the same type of support, and your outplacement provider should be able to individualize their services to meet your employees’ unique needs. For example, a chief officer is going to need different assistance than an entry-level employee. Additionally, you’ll have some associates who are interested in moving up in their career, others who are looking to shift industries, and some who are moving toward retirement. Look for an outplacement provider that can and wants to adapt their services to achieve the dynamic career goals of their customers.

During your search, be wary of firms that provide group coaching sessions in lieu of individual coaching. While group sessions can be a great way to create community among job seekers and workshop ideas, they should not be the sole means of career assistance. A quality outplacement program will offer your employees one-on-one sessions with a career coach who can give them their full attention and individualized advice.

Virtual career advisor meeting with job seeker


2. The best outplacement firms are flexible.

Outplacement programs should give your employees flexibility to use the services in a way that works for them. Many people prefer to search for jobs in the comfort of their home, so consider choosing a program that offers virtual and online coaching – you’ll likely see more employees using the service if they are able to choose an experience that suits them. And as you know, engagement with your program is key for maintaining a strong employer brand (and getting the most out of your investment).

You’ll also need to decide on the amount of time that outplacement services will be offered to your employees – this is otherwise known as a term limit and can range from three months to “until placement.” For hourly employees, a 3-month term limit may be plenty of time to find a job, but for more experienced professionals, a fixed term could be quite limiting. Consider finding a program that will provide outplacement assistance to job seekers, regardless of their level, until they are placed in a new position – that way, you can be confident that each of your employees will make a successful transition.


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3. The best outplacement firms are strategic.

If you want to make a smart investment, make sure that your outplacement provider offers strategic solutions. What do they do to drive positive outcomes? How do they measure the success of their programs? How are they helping you to build a strong employer brand?

Here are a few key indicators that an outplacement provider is thinking strategically:

  • They have knowledgeable, specialized career advisors. Career guidance should not be one-size-fits-all. Find a program that matches your employees with advisors based on level, industry, or career goals.
  • They have certified resume writers. Career coaching and resume writing are two unique and highly specialized roles. Look for an outplacement program that has certified resume writers who are experts at getting resumes through applicant tracking systems and time-crunched recruiters.
  • They provide metrics to measure the success of your program. Thoughtful services are critical, but above all, they need to drive results. Any outplacement provider worth your investment will have accessible and real-time data on your program. As you compare firms, ask for demos of their reporting tools and how you can measure the success of your program.


Employer checking outplacement stats


4. The best outplacement firms are innovative.

The job market is constantly changing along with recruiting technology and industry trends – make sure your outplacement provider has their finger on the pulse and continually augments their services. Ask the following questions to help you gauge a firm’s commitment to innovation:

  • What technology do you use to complement your outplacement services?

  • What improvements to your tools and services have you made in the last year? How successful were your improvements?
  • Do you provide ongoing training for your career coaches and resume writers?

A forward-thinking firm will also consistently post articles, reports, and other media to provide their audience with subject matter expertise and industry trends. This is a good sign for two reasons: One, they’re committed to sharing knowledge with their customers, and two, they’re most likely using this research to improve their own services.


Implementing a successful outplacement program is critical for maintaining the health of your business after an organizational change, so we understand that choosing the best outplacement firm for your company is a big decision. As you narrow your search, aim for a provider that adapts their services to the individual needs of your employees and prioritizes results through strategic, innovative solutions. Above all, focus on finding an outplacement program that meets your bottom line: to transition out of a downsizing event, however big or small, with a strong employer brand.

by: Sarah Ballow
April 14, 2020