Keep the Conversation Going Series – 2023 Philly SHRM Symposium
By: Gary Dumais, Psy.D., SPHR
Outplacement Services are in high demand nowadays, as thousands of employees have been laid-off nationwide in recent months from big companies like Amazon, Meta (formerly Facebook), Airbnb, etc. And many experts are projecting even more layoffs to come as doubts about the economy fester and recession looms.
With outplacement being a hot topic, I attended a presentation at the 2023 Philly SHRM Symposium by Raymond Lee, Founder & President of outplacement company Careerminds, to learn more. I was surprised to discover that some outplacement providers are offering training beyond job-search skills – akin to executive coaching – which made me wonder how the fundamental focus of outplacement services is changing, and why.
How are outplacement services changing?
The overarching purpose of outplacement services is to help laid-off employees find another job. Thus, it makes sense that outplacement services have traditionally focused on developing job-search skills such as resume writing, interviewing, networking, and the like. In other words, bridging the gap between a job-seeker and employment entailed mastering the skills related to getting the job, and outplacement companies’ offerings were aligned accordingly.
Yet, the idea of offering training beyond job-search skills suggests that bridging the gap between a job seeker and employment now includes mastering skills related to doing the job, in addition to skills related to getting the job. Raymond, Careerminds President, called this trend “upskilling” or “reskilling”, and listed several examples during his presentation, such as soft skills (e.g., emotional intelligence), and adapting to an increasingly digital workplace (e.g., how to manage remote workers).
In sum, outplacement companies are expanding their job-search training to include coaching on skills needed to perform well in today’s jobs, which begs the question, why is this change happening?
Why are outplacement services changing?
In a follow-up conversation with Raymond, he explained that Careerminds developed the new trainings because they are seeing an urgent need for it; many laid-off jobseekers are missing the skills required to compete in the marketplace, and that makes it difficult for them to gain new employment.
Simply put, outplacement services are expanding to offer job training because there is a growing deficit of employees who have the required skills for today’s jobs. And since outplacement companies’ success depends upon placing people in new jobs, it is in their best interest to resolve any obstacles in the way – like skill-set weaknesses.
So, why do jobseekers seem to need more job-training now to succeed? I suspect it is because workplace demands are changing more quickly than ever before, and academia is failing to adequately prepare graduates for the new world of work.
The abrupt shift to people working remotely due to government mandated lockdowns beginning in 2020 is an example of a rapid change in job demands. Even years later, many employees are still struggling to develop the new skills needed to successfully work remotely. Likewise, technology continues to advance at an exponential pace; soon employees will be struggling to adapt to artificial intelligence in the workplace.
Regarding new employees entering the workforce, I’ve heard increasing complaints from teachers, recruiters, and hiring managers that graduates are not prepared to meet job demands – missing even fundamental skills like writing, critical thinking, and accountability (e.g., completing assignments on time). As a result, it appears that outplacement companies are stepping-up to provide the job-skills training that is lacking.
In sum, outplacement companies are expanding their job-search training to include the skill-development required to succeed in jobs, such as soft-skills coaching and learning how to work in a digital workplace. Trends like these are likely to continue as workplace demands rapidly change along with evolving technology, and school’s graduate students lack required job skills. Human resource professionals should be aware that businesses are expanding their offerings in response to these trends and consider leveraging non-traditional sources of training – like outplacement services that provide executive coaching.
About the Author
Gary Dumais, Psy.D., SPHR is a Business Psychologist & Human Resource Consultant at Select Human Resources. Specializing in people-assessment, he profiles people for jobs, protects companies from bad hiring decisions, and gives decision-makers insight into people’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential. He has deep expertise in psychometric assessments and interview methods for hiring, development, and succession planning. Dr. Dumais is also a seasoned executive coach. He has a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology, bachelor degrees in Psychology and Health & Human Services, and is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources with over 20 years of experience.
Editor: Dennis Paris