Time to Reinvent / Rebrand Outplacement?

Time to Reinvent / Rebrand Outplacement?

What Shark?

We know the only constant is change, change finds everyone, every business.

Change is like the predatory shark in the ocean. Ask Blockbuster Video. They saw Netflix coming and could have acquired the disruptive start-up, but did not see the future and were gobbled up – end of story.

Other ‘shaking-up the norm’ business examples that come to mind:

  • The taxicab industry has been reinvented by Uber.
  • Do you remember, or miss, My Space? Probably not, thanks to
  • Travelling? What company has reinvented the hotel and hospitality industry?

Answer: Airbnb.

  • Alibaba is another disruptor in the no-inventory business model.

You get the picture. Proactively change or lose revenue, or worse, go out of business.


Given Notice.

With cradle to grave employment long gone, change knocks often. When businesses must implement a reduction-in-workforce, Outplacement / Career Transition Services are paid for by two-thirds of downsizing companies. (Source: Wall Street Journal). The Outplacement companies support departed employees conduct an effective search for their next career opportunity. Why does an employer invest in Outplacement services?


The Business Case.

Outplacement benefits:

  • Protection and strengthening of the employer brand.
  • Improved employee morale, motivation and productivity for those who remain.
  • Enhanced recruitment capabilities.
  • Improved retention of top talent.
  • Reduction of possible legal action.


Hollywood Movie Stars and Outplacement

Outplacement has been an invaluable service for decades. Most experience it at some point in their career. If you have not, you’ll likely be able to recall the movie Up in the Air starring George Clooney, who played a corporate outplacement consultant.


Been There, Done That.

As an executive in transition, my Outplacement program was a life-changing experience, as it provided the guidance in helping me pursue a meaningful, career of passion. I strategically landed in the Outplacement industry. This evolved into my intra/entrepreneurial businesses – helping leaders in sport and business, adapt to change and reinvent both themselves, and their careers.


A Multi-Billion-Dollar Industry.

My Outplacement employee and consulting experiences over the past 2 decades, range from working with the pioneer in Outplacement, to a ‘disruptive’ start-up, to consulting for boutiques.

I’ve had access and insider insights into a myriad of provider programs.

With my recent Outplacement experiences, it was clear to me, it is time for a change.


Same Old. Same Old.

The Outplacement industry is tired. I was shocked at how little the service had evolved over the decades, other than the advancement in technology capabilities. The story of Netflix illustrates that progress is impossible without change. So what is the Outplacement industry waiting for?


Old School Outplacement. 

Traditional Outplacement services are simply no longer effective for the majority of employees in transition today. The world of work is constantly changing, especially with the global rise of social media. Outplacement is stagnant, it has not kept pace.


So What Has Changed? 

  • The Millennials rise in the workplace has reshaped employers thinking by making ‘job- hopping’ an antiquated stigma – Gen Y’s are more resilient and adept at self-directed change.
  • With multiple jobs changes, comes multiple Outplacement program experiences, resulting in a “No thank you, I’ve been there, done that”
  • Outplacement was a high value offering but has now become a low-cost commodity, playing a diminished role in a transactional employment market.
  • Increasingly, consultants have little personal contact with clients.
  • The overall approach remains one-size-fits-all, with canned job advice.
  • The industries traditional career transition guidelines cover the basics of managing your search process, but reflects ‘old school’ thinking ‘with the likes of the ’30-60 Second Intro.’ and mass-produced resumes, interview scripts and off-the-shelf marketing plans.
  • Outplacement professionals do not find you jobs; they prepare you for your search. Most programs expire before one is reemployed.
  • Few employers and providers accurately track outplacement results.
  • There is no longer a stigma attached to redundancy, so employers are feeling less ‘guilty’ and a little less responsible.


What Does This Tell You?

It is no surprise that almost half of the displaced workers

that are offered outplacement services don’t even show up.

For those that do, in an extremely competitive global market,

many are doomed to look like the millions of other job seekers.


No More Cookie-Cutters Please.

All this means that the cookie-cutter Outplacement / Career Transition industry has to reinvent itself if it is going to thrive. What does this look like? It’s about the customized adoption of in-depth, Personal Branding programs.


Everyone Has a Compelling Story to Tell.

Many participants in traditional Outplacement programs leave not knowing their story, understanding who they are, what they stand for, and where it is they truly want to go. Personal Branding is the evolution of career transition, with one of the critical components being the ability to leverage social and digital media for an intimate platform to connect, to shape perceptions for career / life advancement and thought-leader status.


So What’s Next?

In my work with professional athletes – as an intrapreneur at a global Outplacement consulting firm, and in leading my own start-up with an exclusive agreement with a BIG 4 sports client – the transition challenges that most athletes face are enormous. Reinvention is a must with an average career of a mere 3 to 4 years. For these world-class, over-achievers, the ‘old school’ career transition model was not effective, so we created an ‘Revolutionary Program’ that evolved into Personal Brand Storytelling.


Be Remembered.

Storytelling brings your brand to life and strengthens your ability to stand-out. Personal Branding is about understanding and leveraging your passions, your distinctive successes and expertise to optimize performance. Quite often this can mean the difference between an unfulfilling job or a rewarding career, and life.


Change the Game.

Personal Brand is about shaping a new image,

steering you towards unexpected paths that unlock your true potential,

that inspire a magical story,

that takes you to a higher ground,

that creates a buzz,

for all the right reasons.


The Personal Branding process results in a sustainable, energized brand, an enhanced emotional connection with your target audiences, an improved perception. This drives a competitive advantage as an influencer, an expert in your field, which increases fanfare and bottom-line success.


Outplacements Future?

Despite its present shortcomings, with the end goal of attaining or retaining Employer of Choice status, I believe the majority of visionary organizations will continue to offer Outplacement if it evolves – it is simply a good thing to do from a PR perspective, and the reasons previously.


In addition, more than ever in our digital world, the power has shifted to the individual. You no longer have to be a celebrity to be seen as an influencer. Anyone can enhance or tarnish an employer’s brand with a single blog, or comments on social platforms like Glassdoor.


Small Steps Forward.

The good news is there have been some progressive steps by the global Big 3 Outplacement players and boutiques. For example:

  • Advancements in leading-edge technologies, referred to as ‘Outplacement 2.0.’
  • Introduction of ‘Branding Professionals’ who build CV’s and Linkedin profiles (However, they barely scratch the surface of true Personal Branding.)
  • Searches on the BIG 3 sites do provide Personal Branding educational articles, but the deliverables do not delve into the ‘Art of Branding’.
  • Websites for Outplacement executive participants, is a new offering, but again, it is a cookie-cutter approach that does not build the story, the brand.


Where’s the WOW?

The Bottom-line:

No Outplacement provider has yet to create and implement

a robust, trailblazing, Personal Brand Storytelling process and program.


Who will enhance the deliverables and the client experience through a fresh branding program?


Who will be the catalyst, the game-changer?


The reinvention of traditional outplacement will happen: strategic, integrated personal branding, business branding, social media and digital communications is a must, especially for the C-Suite business leaders, who like elite athletes, face huge transition challenges and often must rebrand themselves.


The Players.

Again, the question is; who will be the first-to-market for a huge competitive advantage? The global, traditional Outplacement powers include: Lee Hecht Harrison (Adecco), Right Management (Manpower) and I’ll add RiseSmart to the mix (which was recently acquired by Randstad). In addition, there are some United States based ‘Nex Gen disruptors’ like CareerArc, and CareerMinds, and many traditional boutiques like Optimal Talent and Verity International in the Canadian market, to name a few.


Rethinking Normal – The Race is On!

In my next, shorter blog,

 I’ll explore the growing movement towards

integrating Personal Brands with Employer brands.


From Reach to LinkedIn.

I’ll also look at why other businesses with synergistic offerings, may enter the Outplacement market with the goal of reinventing it.  The professional online network leader LinkedIn, and business branding agencies like Interbrand, and Reach Personal Branding, come to mind – a piece of the multi-billion-dollar Outplacement pie could be theirs, with a new, integrated revenue line and a sustained competitive advantage.


Anything is Possible.

I thought I would always drive to Blockbuster.

The rain, cold, snow or dead of night could not stop me.

I’d walk the aisles, eat some popcorn and pick my favorite movie…

that’s the way it was always going to be.

We know how that movie ends.


“Times of transition are strenuous but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.” Kristin Armstrong


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