Rethinking ‘Normal’ – Out with the Old

Rethinking ‘Normal’ – Out with the Old


Goodbye Outplacement – Hello Personal Branding


In my last blog, I looked at disruptive businesses, like Netflix, Uber, Facebook and Airbnb, who have reinvented their industries.


I wrote about the multi-billion-dollar outplacement, career transition industry. The sentiment was unanimous, “It is time to shake things up… in today’s interconnected and social world the industry definitely needs to re-define its value proposition… differentiation is definitely a must if outplacement players are to keep the sector alive and maintain a market edge.” 


Old School


To reiterate, in todays’ ever changing, digital, global competitive economy, we know this about outplacement:

  • Protecting and strengthening the employer brand is more critical than ever, thus outplacement remains a necessary cost of doing good business for best-in-class employers
  • HR leaders and their organizations are not impressed with the stagnant transition model, and want more ‘bang for their buck’
  • Displaced employees ‘have been there – done that’ and require a fresh, value-add approach if they are to reengage in outplacement programs


The Bottom line: The commoditized, ‘cookie-cutter – one size fits all’ outplacement model simply is not good enough anymore.


The time to reinvent Outplacement has arrived.


What Can This (R)Evolution Around Personal Branding Look Like?


Let’s explore this exciting possibility: I know, ‘this is a long blog’ …but reinvention does not happen in 80, 140 or 160 characters J


One Brick, One Step at a Time

Business intelligence tells us small adjustments can make a huge difference, you don’t have to blow up the outplacement model. LEGO is a perfect example of a business that had to innovate – with vicious global competition, rapidly changing customer’s preferences and digital game technologies, they had no choice.


David Robertson, author of the new book, Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry, wrote, “If what you’re looking for is how to make a lot of money doing lots of small ideas and innovations, but integrating them really well and focusing them on what your customers want and need, then LEGO is a great model.”


Hello Personal Branding

So, let’s explore some ‘small ideas’ with a focus on the customer, a shift in the model that an outplacement innovator can roll out for a BIG impact.


Step 1: Throw out, rewrite the old outplacement playbook:

  1. Create, implement and deliver a game-changing personal branding and digital communications program, while leveraging proven outplacements tools and resources etc. in order to drive a much needed revitalization.
  2. Create a high-end, boutique branding program for the C-suite and influential leaders. Why?

Exceptional leadership begins with a personal brand reputation that is integrated, and unseparatable from the employer brand –  think Steve Jobs at Apple. The perception of the leader impacts how the organization is viewed, good or bad. A leaders’ brand and story must consistently inspire customers, employees and investors.


Step 2: Position the NEW outplacement program – with the focus on personal branding – as an integral part of the employment life cycle. This will lead to employee engagement, advancement, retention and development throughout. In doing so, the industry will gradually be reinvented. Here’s the why and the how.



‘Be Yourself – Everyone Else is Taken’ O. Wilde

My definition of personal branding – it is all about authentic storytelling, it’s about sharing the exceptional you, so you will be remembered™ for all the right reasons: It is about:

  • being genuine, being you, being real and sincere
  • understanding your present day reputation, and aligning it with how others view you
  • introspection that uncovers what you stand for, self-discovery and external feedback to determine where it is you want to go, can go, and why
  • understanding your unique values, your guiding principles, to help establish your sense of purpose, and direction for evaluating energizing life choices
  • personal reinvention in order to do what you love to do, what you wish to be known for
  • the way you optimize and leverage your business talents, your brand attributes, your passions and life achievements
  • differentiation to rise above, to be recognized as a leader – never a follower
  • defining, living your personal brand, and delivering on your unique promise of value
  • storytelling to leverage and showcase your superpower talents, to make others the ‘heroes’
  • social listening, sharing, amplifying, building relationships, one human at a time
  • adding to the conversation, becoming a strong voice, an influencer, a supporter
  • educating, engaging and drawing in your audience, creating and curating content that captivates and drives a buzz for thought leader status
  • consistently and emotionally connecting with people to build loyal fans and followers
  • validating your brand, backing it up with proof, and recommendations
  • showing your mojo, standing out in a very competitive world, communicating your value
  • resonating with your audiences, driving ‘aha’ and ‘wow’ moments, making those in your world, including your employer, shine!

Connecting Personal Brands with the Employer Brand

An employee’s personal brand impacts the employer brand, both positively and negatively. Accordingly, there is a growing movement towards integrating personal brands with the broader corporate brand. This harmonization in today’s social media world is becoming increasingly valuable for organizations and their talent management objectives.


Personal Branding = Brand Ambassadors  

Visionary organizations are beginning to invest in helping their employees understand and articulate their personal brands, as they see a return on the investment. (Reach Branding is now thriving in this market). A fully engaged and empowered worker is a happy, productive employee; they are employees who support a strong employer brand, become committed team players, and brand and social media advocates.


Tweet – Share – Like – Thumbs Up or Down?

Employee’s personal interactions with their networks impact the corporate identity. A positive story can go a long way to building an employer of choice status.  Every employee touch point – conversation with friends, followers, customers, prospects, influencers, and potential hires – can promote the employer and enhance the enterprise reputation, leaving a positive impression of the employer brand.


Fresh Thinking

Self-discovery is a component of outplacement, however, personal branding elevates the self-assessment and expression process to a much higher level. This creates a clearer career and life roadmap that results in increased confidence and career paths aligned with talents and passions.


When employees are:

  • equipped with resources to improve their personal brand, they become clear about who they are, and where they want to go
  • educated with an understanding of how they can apply their unique skills and expertise to activate their own personal success, they become more fulfilled at work
  • are able to articulate the corporate brand and values – in a way that works for them – you have a win-win partnership


Although the focus is on developing the personal brand, there is a boost to the employer brand and delivery on the corporate brand promise.


OUTplacement  à INplacement

Through the personal branding process, employees will have a better understanding of the role they play within the organization, and whether or not their job is really right for them.



This new found, personal wisdom can help HR and team leaders develop better employee career paths and ladders to:

  1. drive progressive internal successes or,
  2. necessitate a change in direction, a fresh career transition program


A reinvented outplacement service provider will specialize in personal branding that helps:

  1. visionary organizations engage, develop and retain talent
  2. displaced employees find what’s next, their passion path


Turn – Around. Upside – Down

We’ve flipped the table with the rationale of, why wait until your people – your greatest resource – leave before they receive invaluable personal branding guidance? In the new ‘outplacement’ model – with a focus on integrating the personal and employee brands –the individual and the organization both benefit upfront.


On-Boarding – Upfront

With the proposed shift (front-end brand investment, moving from reactive, outdated, outplacement services, to proactive personal branding throughout every phase of employee development) organizations can now offer a unique, upfront career development and learning offering which optimizes individual employee personal brands, and is tied to the employer brand. This enables enhanced individual contributions, from day one, to the organization’s objectives. This also serves as phase one of two, for an eventual exit from the organization – outplacement.


The new ‘personal branding’ service is used to on-board employees, engage and develop high potentials, top talent and leaders, and leverages their strengths for a ‘bang for their buck’.


In addition, both parties will likely come to some realizations; they discover who is not in a best-fit position, and who may not have the talent to succeed and thrive in the employer culture. This insight will likely lead to retraining, redeployment or an involuntarily, or voluntarily exit.


Off Boarding – Backend

Should the employer decide to severe ties (due to redundancy, restructuring, M&A, or for performance related causes) the employee is well prepared to proactively manage their brand. With their personal brand already in hand, they can begin their career search for what’s next, already better equip to transition quickly and successfully.


In addition, access to the traditional outplacement backend program, will help transitioning employees deal with emotional change when losing a job. Their outplacement team can begin to create a strategic plan to heal, connect, network, research, and prepare for interviews and negotiations etc., many of the valuable components outplacement offers today.


A Bigger Piece of the Pie for Outplacement Providers

The new outplacement business model that encompasses personal branding will help:

  • retain the existing career transition customer base and grow it with the value-add service, and fresh positioning
  • leverage existing HR relationships and lead to new discussions with new contacts, going deeper and wider into the employment life cycle
  • expand the conversations to a broader scope of employee development, advancement and retainment, for an increased revenue stream.


“I Wish I Knew Then, What I Know Now”

Outplacement at its peak, often elicited the above comment from most participants. For many it was the first time they invested in themselves, understood who they are, and strategically built a foundation to determine where it is they wanted to go.


To sum it up – Outplacement has lost its shine: With the new norm being constant and consistent corporate downsizing, restructuring, M&A’s and job-hopping, participant programs that once were invaluable, have become repetitive, mundane and generally ineffective.


Noted futurist Rohit Talwar: ‘Our youth can expect to hold 40 different jobs in ten completely different career paths in their lives.’


One Brick at a Time


1-Outplacement Refreshed

Like the Lego story, the fist brick must be laid if the industry is to evolve and succeed. The revitalization of traditional outplacement can only begin with the adding to the mix of ground-breaking personal branding, business branding, social media and digital communications.


2-Outplacement Reinvented

The reinvention of traditional outplacement, with the introduction of employee personal branding throughout the employment life cycle, is the larger brick, however it is synergistic and aligned with the core business.


  1. This progressive step will result in a win for employees – better brands, better opportunities and enhanced career fulfillment and successes.


  1. The organizations, the employers also win – better talent management and transformational strategies for improved workforce performances and productivity, and an upswing in brand ambassadors, resulting in a stronger return on investment.


Who will be the First Mover?

Today’s savvy executive has a growing understanding of the importance of developing their own brand to ensure perpetual business and life reinvention success. Let’s hope outplacement players get it too, and do their part to keep pace with the changing marketplace. If the sector providers do not see the future soon, their story may eventually conclude like the unfortunate Blockbuster chapter.


“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” R.W.Emerson


Courageous, Bold and Visionary.


I believe an innovator in this space will truly embrace this opportunity and strategically position itself as a one-stop provider. They will lead the pack by harnessing the power of personal branding – integrated with the employer brand – throughout the complete spectrum of the employment life cycle. In doing so, they will help their customers attract, develop, retain key talent, and of course, transition others. This catalyst will significantly enhance their value proposition, increased their market share, and change the game.


Who will be the trailblazer to ‘Shake it up’ and reinvent a tired industry?


Anything to add to the conversation that will help others? Please share your comment.


If you enjoyed reading this blog, or found it helpful, please pass it on. Thank you.


For part 1, of this 2-part story, please visit


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