Outplacement Firms Provide Value

As noted in recent Wall Street Journal coverage (Assistance for Laid-Off Workers Gets Downsized and the subsequent blog What Helps After a Layoff? Seven Job Seekers’ Tips), many people today have experienced the impact of reduced outplacement services. This point is regrettably difficult to dispute. Research from the industry group Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) confirms that revenues for outplacement services have been declining in the U.S. since 2009. SIA estimates that revenue stayed flat in 2013, and will fall five percent in 2014.

In more than 30 years in the business, I've seen a wide variety of changes come to pass in our industry, driven by economic and employment trends as much as by great leaps in technology. Yet, several basic tenets remain as the cornerstone of a superior outplacement practice.  

The WSJ goes on to assert that, “Thanks to corporate cost-cutting, laid-off managers and executives today rarely get the personalized, face-to-face coaching provided in the past.” A number of examples round out the piece, citing the real-life experience from candidates of a few of our competitors. Again, it’s hard to argue with accurate quotations from hard-working people, especially against the backdrop of our larger economic reality these past five years. Times continue to be tough.

However, the fact remains that there is still great value to be realized from in-person services. And while the outplacement business model is changing, led by business pressure on some of the industry’s largest players—other top providers, such as The Ayers Group, a Career Partners International firm providing outplacement services globally, they continue to deliver a successful, personalized approach.

Consider this testimonial from one of our candidates:

“From the first day I started at Ayers, they went out of their way to listen to me and help me get back into the market quickly. Terry, the practice leader, sat with me and listened to my story, then paired me with Phyllis, my coach. He had a knack for knowing that there would be good chemistry between us. Phyllis and I met every week for an hour, and have become friends beyond our business partnership. Even on days when she wasn’t around, she would check in with me on topics, or send me to another coach to help me when she was on vacation. I also attended all of the Ayers seminars on branding, networking, and LinkedIn. This is a great team organization, and I have never once felt like I was in an assembly-line environment. I talk with colleagues who have been let go and I tell them that they need to come here. It’s a place that has kept me motivated, and helped me to move forward.

- Kathryn Auger, HR Executive

The WSJ further describes how, “Now, workers dealing with the trauma of job loss are often funneled into virtual classes, webinars, and phone or email coaching with a consultant in another part of the country.” Of course we use technology at Ayers, but only to supplement our programs. A technological or virtual approach can be highly effective when used as an adjunct to services—not as a replacement.

The Ayers Group has been a positive force in the lives of thousands of professionals, helping them to negotiate successful career moves. To remain successful, we retain consultants with an average tenure of 10+ years, who use proven strategies to optimize our candidates’ networks, and maintain the expertise to leverage the supplemental resources each might need to improve their individual searches.

And as noted above, in-person networking groups remain key to our solutions, featuring bi-weekly senior- and mid-level HR networking groups for professionals in transition held at Ayers facilities. We work to constantly expand and deepen candidate networks, with the largest groups at roughly 50 or more participants per session.

By focusing our efforts on high-touch programs, each personalized and customized to the candidate’s next step - Ayers is careful to sustain a high quality of relationships, which become a true partnership. As one stark difference, our candidate-to-coach ratio is about 40:1, as compared to an industry average referenced in the article of as much as 100 to 120:1. We feature true one-on-one coaching, with candidates always meeting with the same coach—not a “doctor is in” model as deployed by some.

It’s a growing challenge for many candidates to overcome the negative subtext that some recent trends have engendered in our industry. But in reality, for every less-than-stellar experience a candidate may have, there are good ones to counter from Ayers—even from some of our more apprehensive clients:

“Truth is, I was very skeptical when I was told that Ayers was a resource for me after my parting with my former company. But once I met with them the first time, I knew I was afforded the opportunity to grow as a professional and to set a path for success. Ayers helped me define who I am, where I’d like to go and how to get there. My consultant was a true pro, and someone who helps to get the best out of people.”

- Lou Grieci

We look forward to a time where every candidate can enjoy the same standard of service.

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