How Can I Help an Employee When I Let Her Go?

May 10 2016

life preserverTerminating an employee’s relationship with your company can be heart-wrenching. One way to make it easier is to engage job-search support to help her get back on her feet. Often referred to as Outplacement, job-search support can come in many different forms and price points. In an age where technology and online tools are commonplace, what services are valuable and which ones yield the best results? The answer won’t surprise you—it’s people. Real people with specific, customized advice are by far the most effective resource in an outplacement service. If you’re thinking about letting an employee go, here’s what you need to know about investing in outplacement services: 

Online Tools & Webinars
Many Outplacement models include access to “proprietary” job search tools. When considering this model, find out whether your former employee will have tools that provide insight that is directly relevant to her. Don’t waste your time with expensive online tools that offer general job search tips for any industry. This isn’t much better than a simple Google search on “job search advice.” Online tools, webinars, and resume writing seminars are vague for a reason—they want to apply to everyone; this is also their downfall because they apply to everyone and yet help no one.

Professional Resume Writers
In a strange irony, a large number of Outplacement models don’t include a service to actually write your former employee’s resume! This is an investment worth making. A well written, concise, and simple resume helps job seekers narrow their focus, zero-in on their core skills and accomplishments, and learn how to translate that into a language that is enticing to potential employers. Less is more when it comes to resumes and a professional resume writer will help highlight what should stand out and minimize what shouldn’t. And most importantly, the process of having another person recognize and highlight key skills can give your former employee the confidence she needs to move forward.

Career Coaching Services
Customized Career Coaching is a valuable resource for anyone in the job market. Each job seeker has individual needs. For example, some have strong resumes but need support in learning how to network effectively. Others may have a great network, but haven’t interviewed in years and don’t know how to position their skills and close the deal. Some will want to make a career change and need practical advice and support to evaluate this option. When exploring Outplacement services, you will want to understand how much one-on-one coaching support your former employee will receive versus how much general information will be shared via online webinars, group workshops, and publications. One-on-one support is most valuable to a job seeker and creates much-needed motivation and accountability.

Navigating Electronic Job Boards
The worst habit of most job seekers is applying to the “black hole” known as online job postings. A strong Outplacement counselor will work with your former employee to replace the wasted time of online applications with a thoughtful and effective networking strategy. When considering an Outplacement service, be sure to ask about online applications to see what the company’s philosophy is on this topic. Many a job seeker becomes depressed and unmotivated after weeks of applying for jobs online and hearing nothing in return.

Can I Only Offer Job Search Support During a Layoff?
Employers often consider Outplacement as an option only when many employees are being terminated. However, affordable and customized Outplacement is often a great solution when a single employee (who hasn’t had negative performance documented) is let go. It may be a perfect “something of value” to be offered in exchange for an employee’s signature on a formal severance agreement. It can be much less expensive than additional weeks of pay and benefits. Of course, be sure to talk with your employment attorney or HR manager to ensure that your use of Outplacement is appropriate in these situations.

Many business owners don’t consider outplacement due to the perception that it’s only appropriate for executives because it costs $5,000 per person or more. Not true! Great Outplacement packages can be very reasonably priced ($500 to $1,000 per person) and offer a great solution to smooth over hard feelings when you need to make an employee transition at any level.


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