The role of technology in individual outplacement support

It’s incredible to think that we’re only a generation away from the time when cutting and pasting documents involved actual glue. There’s no doubt about it, tech has transformed our lives — from the way we work to the way we enjoy our leisure time.

Remote working is something we take for granted these days, whether we’re in the home office or on the beach, and it’s now much easier to leverage big data to optimise decision-making.

Tech has also enhanced how we manage career transition and outplacement support, making it something leavers can dip in and out of when it suits them, in real-time.

Tech-enabled outplacement support now…

Here are some of the ways that online tech has augmented traditionally in-person activities, like individual outplacement support:

  • Personal support via tools such as videoconferencing and email means that leavers can reach a coach wherever they are. Organisations can even leverage time zones to offer 24/7 or close-to-24/7 cover. This is great news for people who travel a lot, have a hectic schedule, are balancing personal commitments, or simply wish to compartmentalise this particular issue and deal with it at a time that suits them.
  • Tools such as educational videos, tutorials, and quizzes can help people figure out what they want to do next, and how to get there. They give leavers access to a world of knowledge and experience that they would otherwise struggle to access, and are inherently objective. 
  • Once leavers know what they are looking for, online job-search engines can help them look for the right job and apply directly. Saved searches with push notifications can help alert job seekers to vacancies as soon as they go online.

…and in the future

Tech moves on so fast, there are good chance things will have changed by the time we go to print, but here are our predictions for tech developments that could enhance the outplacement process in the not-so-distant future.

  • Technologies like virtual (VR) and augmented (AR) reality. VR creates a new environment that people can step into – it’s an immersive experience that shuts out the outside world — while AR overlays digital elements onto your current, real view of the world. 
    Both could be used to enhance the conversations and discussions that an outplacement coach has with a person, perhaps letting them act out scenarios like mock-interviews or simply making remote sessions feel more immersive and human.

    When it comes to recruitment, hirers can assess quickly how closely the candidate’s skills match their CV, while for candidates it’s a great way to assess whether the job is everything it’s cracked up to be — without leaving their home or office.
    VR and AR also have the potential to help leavers retrain for their next career move — again at a time and place to suit them.
  • Mobile technology. We already have a myriad of mobile apps that can help with career transition — personality analysis, job search engines project management tools with reminders, and so on, and these can really help galvanise a leaver’s career plans, particularly if procrastination is an issue. Mobile technology. We already have a myriad of mobile apps that can help with career transition — personality analysis, job search engines project management tools with reminders, and so on, and these can really help galvanise a leaver’s career plans, particularly if procrastination is an issue.
    We can see these apps going from strength to strength as they leverage the best of VR, AR, and location-based technology. Fallen in love with your holiday destination? Have local job vacancies pinged to your smartwatch or phone?
    We’d caution against having an interview after too many San Miguels though — sometimes you really do need to switch off!
    And while current apps are discrete entities performing different tasks, we can see future versions taking care of a person’s entire career path and pulling in whatever resources might be needed at a specific point, be that graduation, parental-leave breaks, redundancy, illness or retirement — all at the click of a button.

But there’s no substitute for the human touch

Digital technology isn’t going away and is only set to become more powerful and meaningful in time, but we mustn’t allow it to compromise the human nature of outplacement which is, after all, a deeply human and often emotional experience:

  • Skype calls are convenient, but people sometimes stifle their movements and hold back information when faced with a camera, making it more difficult to pick up on body language and subtle clues.
  • Personality quizzes can unearth useful insights, but they generally lump people into ‘types’ when we all know that our own lived experiences are unique — and that the ‘ideal’ career path might be anything but once your own needs, quirks, and aspirations are taken into account. People, on the other hand, can give the kind of subjective advice that an online tool would struggle to deliver.
  • For people coming to terms with the idea of giving up a job they loved and thought was for keeps, having difficult conversations with somebody hundreds of miles away isn’t at all appealing. Simply being there to hand out the tissues can make a world of difference.

The key, therefore, is to strike a balance between technology and people. Use the technology where it enhances face-to-face interactions, but don’t rely on it wholesale; use online resources to build on a discussion, but not in place of it.

As workers become more physically dispersed, those genuine human interactions will become so much more valuable and necessary. By leveraging digital tech in the right way, outplacement experts can maximise the time they spend delivering one-on-one, high-value support.

Author Bio:

Kate Keaney is an energetic and passionate leader with a unique combination of vision, drive, pragmatism, and practicality. She joined Connor Consultancy, a leading outplacement service provider, in 2016 and became CEO in 2018. Since then, Kate has led Connor through an exciting period of growth and reorganization and is a strong champion of technology as an enabler of effective organizational transformation.

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