The Unique Challenges of Executive-Level Outplacement

Offering outplacement services to employees exiting your company for whatever reason — a layoff, permanent downsizing, or even a performance-based firing — is almost always a good idea. And, that is doubly true at the executive level.

C-level execs can find themselves being exited from their positions due to poor performance, the arrival of a new CEO who cleans house, or the influence of outside investors. C-level executive turnover is also common in mergers and acquisitions.

With that as backdrop, you should consider executive outplacement for a number of reasons.

Why you should consider executive outplacement

  • It is an important enhancement to a separation package that aims to reduce the risk of litigation.
  • Providing executive outplacement is also crucial for your employer brand. After all, former C-level execs can be your company’s biggest cheerleaders … or detractors. There is usually a lot of goodwill toward the departing executive, who, in many cases, worked their way up in the company and had a very long tenure.
  • It’s good for morale. The rest of the management team also understands that how this individual is treated may also dictate how they are treated, should they wind up in that position someday.
  • Relative to the total cost of an executive separation, outplacement has a rather modest price tag.

Let’s go into that in more detail.

Most departing C-level executives receive generous exit packages and are in a good place financially to weather a fairly lengthy job search process. That’s good news because the data suggests that transitions for C-level execs are frequently long and complex.

C-Level job searches are disproportionately dependent on the executive search process. They vie for a limited number of open roles. If they are considered for a role, the hiring process can be long and intense, and success is not assured.

The needs of the C-level executive in transition are different, and so must the outplacement solution be. That’s why executive-level outplacement solutions often include bells & whistles not included in the plans offered more broadly.

What to include in your executive outplacement solution

Administrative services. While their schedules are less hectic in transition, executives still appreciate having an assistant, even if it’s a virtual one, to take calls, set appointments and keep a calendar.

Resume writing. It requires a deft expertise to perfect a strong, role-focused resume and often a complementary board-focused resume.

Board seat advisory. Some outplacement solutions offer board seat advisory services that aim to prepare the executive and open the door to specific opportunities. For some executives, the next logical move is not a full-time role, but rather the acquisition of board seats.

Personal, online SEO presence monitoring. Because of their visibility, C-level execs often face challenges with their public presence. They can be targets for employee or customer ire, often unfairly, leading to an unflattering set of google search results. A hands-on team that help them manage their personal SEO can be very important.

Content writing. This is about ongoing visibility and thought leadership. Executives value access to a content writing team that can help to author relevant thought pieces that keep the executive visible during their transition.

An outplacement partner that can help the executive make and manage search firm relationships is vital. Providing a database of search firms is not enough. Executives need help targeting the right relationships and guidance on nurturing them.

Executive outplacement services can also add value by introducing executives who have successfully landed a new position to high-quality onboarding consultants.

While search firms play a larger role in C-level job search than they do at any other level, networking is still the dominant source of opportunities, counting for more than two offers for every one offer sourced from search firms.

This brings us back to basics. It means that the outplacement firm needs a fundamentally sound approach to networking and the ability through its coaching professionals to inform, support, motivate and hold accountable the executive in transition.

Bottom line, exiting executives require high-impact coaching from true C-level qualified coaches. They value strategic, high-quality advice from a trusted, confidential adviser. They appreciate the artisanship of elite-level resume writers and the professionalism and accountability of an elite-level coaching team. They want help opening doors and a guiding hand in exploiting new opportunities.

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