You may be looking for an outplacement provider due to an upcoming reduction in force (RIF) or to partner with a provider to support regular turnover. Whether you work in procurement or are managing an outplacement request for proposal (RFP) as an HR business leader, you’ll want to find a provider that meets your budget but doesn’t sacrifice quality to do so. Skimping on service can lead to an ineffective program. A productive outplacement RFP will help you find a provider who can provide the right level of service for your employees that’s also cost-efficient. This vendor will help your impacted employees get new, meaningful work, quickly.
Why Would a Company Provide Outplacement Assistance to an Employee?
Outplacement is offered as part of a comprehensive benefits package to employees in the event of a layoff or regular turnover to provide assistance in the form of job seeker resources and career coaching to find new work.
Offering outplacement not only benefits the recipient; it also benefits the employer brand when the services provided are effective. Choosing the right services for your impacted employees demonstrates a dedication to their well-being and reflects well on you, so that those leaving, those remaining, and your consumers retain their positive opinion of your brand.
What Elements are Typically Included in Outplacement Services?
The essential parts of an outplacement program include the following:
- One-on-one career coaching
- Resume and cover letter builders
- Resume writing and review
- Personal pitch builder
- LinkedIn profile writing and review and social media branding
- Searchable job board with millions of job listings plus job alerts
- Networking tools and guidance
- Interview practice tool
- Resources for offer negotiation
A strong outplacement provider will offer these resources, plus many more, and will employ experienced career coaches who can provide personalized job search guidance and help job seekers get the most out of the online tools.
How to Write an Effective Outplacement RFP
An effective outplacement RFP is one that is written with specific requirements to meet your organization’s needs, and that is written in such a way that you can easily compare one vendor’s services to another’s. To determine what those requirements should be, you’ll need to evaluate what is most important to your organization.
To get the greatest benefit from the outplacement RFP process, you’ll want to take into consideration factors such as the programs’ potential for customization, the coaching methodology, the usability of the technology, the comprehensiveness of the resources, development agility, user satisfaction, the level of client service, and of course cost.
Let’s take a look at each of these areas and how they might affect the success of your outplacement RFP and ultimately your selected services.
Ability to customize outplacement services and programs to your needs
Vendors may offer a single program level or several, with various degrees of flexibility in features and duration. Look for a provider with the ability to tailor their programs to your needs and with experience delivering those services. You’ll want to consider the makeup of your organization and the needs for each segment. In addition, if your organization has a global presence, you’ll want to seek a vendor with global experience.
- Do you want to provide matched, one-on-one coaching for each individual, no matter their job level?
- Do you need to provide executive-level services that offer facilitated networking, research, and help with post-landing transition?
- Would your impacted employees be best served by on-demand coaching that’s available seven days a week?
- Would the employees benefit from assessments and courses that allow them to identify and increase their skills on their own time between coaching sessions?
- What languages are your platform and services available in?
- Do your international coaches have knowledge of the local job market and business customs?
Ultimately you want to find a vendor whose services help your impacted employees find new work as quickly as possible. Choosing a vendor that offers the greatest opportunity for customization will provide impacted employees with a personalized outplacement program experience, and will produce better results.
Cost of outplacement
While you might not disclose your budget in your outplacement RFP, you’ll want to keep that number in mind because each vendor may arrive at a cost in a different way. While one vendor may, for example, charge for each hour of coaching provided, another may provide unlimited coaching. Vendors may claim that their coaching is unlimited, but may actually place restrictions or time caps on each session. To ensure that you’re comparing apples to apples, you’ll want to create a pricing form that allows vendors to be as specific as possible about what it is you’re being charged for, or what services a price includes. As some vendors may include certain features in their program price that you might itemize on your form, be sure to allow a way for vendors to identify if those features are included at no extra cost.
You may want to include the following questions:
- Is coaching included in your overall price?
- How do you charge for coaching?
- How many coaching sessions are included in your program?
- Is coaching unlimited?
- Are there time caps for coaching sessions?
- Is there a separate cost for resume writing?
- What is included in the technology cost?
Outplacement coaching methodology
While unemployment has always been a stressful time for those who experience it, there has been more focus in the past few years about how that stress can affect different aspects of one’s life. This stress can have an impact on an individual’s job search, as it takes away the energy and enthusiasm needed to be productive.
An effective outplacement career coach will help a client address the impact of unemployment on their financial, social, professional, and physical well-being by offering strategies and resources to get back on track in each of these areas and find optimism around their search and new opportunities.
To discover what vendors offer, ask questions like the following:
- What is your coaching methodology?
- How do your coaches help individuals experiencing unemployment?
- How many years experience, on average, do your coaches have with career development?
- Please provide sample bios for some of your coaches.
- What educational background, professional experience, and certifications do your coaches have?
- Do your coaches continue their education and/or professional development?
Lastly, an effective coaching team will have a high satisfaction rating from their participants, over 95%.
Outplacement technology and platform resources
Outplacement platforms come in many designs and user experiences. You’ll want to find one that is easy to navigate, is rich with resources, and offers flexibility to the user in how they approach their career transition.
Consider asking these questions in your RFP:
- Do users have the option to use the features in any order they desire in addition to the option of a directed path?
- What types of assessments are included?
- Can the user save job searches and set up job alerts?
- What resources are available for building a resume, cover letter and pitch?
- What tools and guides do you have to support networking and branding?
- How do you facilitate interview practice?
- Do you offer coaching within the platform?
- Do you offer upskilling courses in case the user wants to build their skills for a new role?
Also ask for user feedback about usability. A great outplacement provider will have received feedback from job seekers that its platform is easy to use and that its resources have been beneficial to their search.
Finally, be sure to ask for a demo! This is the best way to experience the technology and discover how well it will meet the needs of your outgoing employees.
Agile technology development model
As you partner with your outplacement vendor, you want to be able to benefit from frequent technology updates, enhancements, and new features. To ensure you’ll receive such benefits, ask the following questions:
- Is your development done in-house, or is it outsourced?
- Do you have an agile development model, or a different model?
- How frequent are your sprints (how frequently are updates completed)?
An agile, in-house developer with sprints every two weeks will have a product that is more likely to meet best practices and be current with market trends. It also means that the vendor will more likely be able to respond to client requests for changes and improvements.
Outplacement program satisfaction
Of course, actual satisfaction ratings will help provide some measurement of effectiveness of a program. Ask questions about satisfaction ratings for both the technology platform and coaching. Also ask to see some feedback from users. Finally, ask the vendor how they respond to negative or constructive feedback. Typically, a vendor with an agile development method will be able to more easily (and therefore, more quickly) make changes to the platform or content in response to feedback. And a vendor with strong coach management will be able to reassign coaches quickly, if needed, for a better match to the candidate.
Level of client and job seeker service and support
None of the programs your former employees receive will be effective if you don’t have client and candidate service to provision it in an efficient manner. A strong client service team will regularly interact with all departments that are crucial to the success of your programs: technology, coaching, and outreach. Your point of contact will have extensive experience in delivering outplacement programs and will be available and responsive when you need them.
You may want to ask the following questions in your outplacement RFP:
- How many years of experience in outplacement will my point of contact have?
- How do you provide reporting? Is it automated? Can it be customized?
- What is your process for outreach? Can eligible individuals be provisioned service within two business days or less? How quickly are individuals matched with coaches?
As part of your RFP process, you’ll want to meet with bidders, specifically your prospective account team, in order to assess how well you’ll work together. This will be particularly important once you have chosen a vendor, as you’ll need to lean on your client success manager for support during the RIF process and beyond. Compatibility and strong communication will be vital during challenging times.
While this article only poses a small set of examples of questions you might include in your outplacement RFP, it should provide a starting point for you in considering your company’s outplacement needs. Write additional questions as you do your research on what makes an effective outplacement service so that you can compare one vendor’s bid to another in the areas most important to you. Ultimately, an effective outplacement RFP will provide you with the answers that will make choosing the right provider that much easier.
INTOO’s outplacement program helps employees transition to new jobs through unlimited one-on-one, on-demand coaching from premier career counselors, resume reviews, and other career services. Learn more about how our outplacement program can benefit your company when you’re transitioning employees.