When the Ax Hits Home


Brad Nelson thought he had landed well when he accepted a position as Senior HR Generalist with a major company in the financial services industry. He was the last of several additions to the HR staff, and much of his role was focused on recruitment. Within the year things took a major turn in the opposite direction. That’s when the first of the layoffs began for Nelson, each one exacting a personal toll on him. In his role as Senior HR Generalist, Nelson participated in more than 400 employees being laid off during the course of a year by the departments he directly supported and then the ax fell his way. By that time, Nelson was ready to leave.

Picking up the Pieces

Astute in business operations, Nelson realized his layoff was imminent and even volunteered for it. And while he knew a lot about the services he would be offered as part of the separation, he never truly understood how much the quality of service delivery would matter in his ability to bounce back. “I had a choice between CPI’s Winston-Salem, NC partner, Williams Roberts Young and another international provider,” said Nelson. “I’m really glad I made the choice I did, especially after talking to other people who went with the other provider.”  

Deanna Leonard, Nelson’s outplacement consultant at Williams Roberts Young, allowed him needed time to accept his job loss – to grieve. According to Nelson, friends who went with the other company were pushed hard to immediately complete their resumes and begin their job searches. “Allowing me to grieve and helping me through that process actually helped me land faster.”  Nelson met with Leonard weekly, and also phoned her every time he had either good or bad news to report. He always spoke immediately with her or got a prompt callback and experienced a great advice session and “cheerleading” as needed. Nelson says it seemed like he must be Leonard’s ONLY charge at Williams Roberts Young.  (In reality, Leonard was similarly counseling 14 other outplacement candidates, and handling a variety of other corporate responsibilities as a Vice President of the firm.)  Leonard mentions that it was during this process that “Brad rediscovered his creativity – something he’d almost forgotten in the process of pushing so many people out the door.”

Razor-Sharp Focus Wins

“The 30-second commercial was truly a turning point for me,” says Nelson. “I finally put together what I’d learned on my previous job about the aspects of HR that I enjoyed, and what other people told me I was really good at doing.”  He excelled at “affecting employees” and helping companies maintain high employee satisfaction and engagement– something he didn’t get to focus on much in his old job. Nelson tried out his commercial – “I’m in HR, and my dream is to make a difference in someone’s life every day,” at an HR networking event. The commercial landed him an interview with one of the top ranked medical and surgical facilities in the area, Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro, NC. Fortunately, Leonard had assisted Nelson in preparing for competitive interviews, even conducting mock interviews using questions CPI provided for preparation. Leonard had also helped Nelson with his negotiation practice. It wasn’t long before Nelson had not one, but two job offers on his plate – true cause for the celebration dinner that Nelson and Leonard enjoyed.  Nelson accepted the position at Moses Cone Hospital and after on-boarding reported thoroughly enjoying his ability to make a difference in so many individuals’ lives.

Service That Amazed Even an HR Specialist

Nelson was tremendously impressed by the resources that were placed at his fingertips by CPI. He found the candidate portal to be “amazing.” Before going on any interview, Nelson used the portal to study the full company profile and also to validate corporate financial status. He even got to know each prospective company’s executives via their profiles.

No stranger to outplacement programs given his tenure in HR positions, Nelson reports having worked with some of the “most recognized names” in outplacement and became familiar with their services. He cites the CPI workbook as being another great resource for him personally. “But I have to say that it’s the personal attention you get with CPI that really makes the outplacement experience totally different with them.”  Never once did he experience any pushback with availability of Leonard - something that peers using another outplacement firm sometimes encountered.

As a result of Leonard’s personal touch and Nelson’s own volition, Nelson was able to add a similar personal touch to the administration of HR policies at a thriving hospital in North Carolina. One can’t help but believe that with his personality and commitment to touching employee lives, Nelson has invented some “pay-it-forward” scheme that has a positive effect on the lives of patients who enter the doors of the hospital.

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