Recruitment vs. Outplacement: What is the Difference?

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Last year saw businesses across all sectors swiftly adapt in order to survive. Rapidly creating new strategies or realigning processes has been essential in the shifting landscape in the world of work. Within the recruitment industry, some organisations saw a boost in business due to high demand in their specialist sectors, whereas others struggled to be agile in this ‘new normal’.

As the number of redundancies elevated over the past year, outplacement became a priority for organisations looking to support their people. Letting employees go is never easy, but in these uncertain times, it is especially challenging. All the costs that go along with that decision such as severance, administration or legal fees may leave some companies questioning the cost of outplacement and instead have them think that leaving employees to manage the job market themselves is a better idea. This assumes that the departing employees will work with recruiters to help them with their next move at no cost to the business.

This begs the question – why choose an outplacement specialist over a recruiter?

Here we explore the differences, and why expert outplacement support is the way to go.

A holistic service for future-proofing candidates

Recruiters’ work often involves striking the right balance between meeting their paying clients’ needs and sourcing the right candidate for the role. This must be achieved in a highly competitive market. Attention is focused on those candidates who are the best fit for each vacancy, although these candidates make up the minority.

This isn’t necessarily a negative. Market-ready candidates can often get matched with a role quickly and successfully. Recruiters have insight into what clients are looking for, which gives candidates a competitive edge during the interview process. However, when a person has been made redundant, they usually aren’t market ready, and for them this system isn’t so effective. These candidates may not have a CV prepared for the current job market, are out of practice when it comes to interviewing, or simply don’t have the right skills to progress.

When you’re unexpectedly out of work, finding something new is not a simple process – especially now. Confidence is bruised, and it’s easy to feel lost. It’s crucial at this point to gain an understanding of what goals each candidate has, and how they can get the role that’s right for them. And it’s not just about right now. Many recruiters focus on the short-term goal of filling a vacancy quickly but this does not necessarily take into account the job seekers long-term career aspirations.

That’s where outplacement companies come in. Their focus is on each individual candidate, and their aim is to align candidates’ long-term needs and goals with what steps they need to take now. This goes beyond advising how to update a CV, or how to interview successfully. Good outplacement companies provide a holistic approach to enable a smooth transition to the next step of each candidate’s career. They help candidates come to terms with the situation and progress with confidence.

Making candidates the priority

There are many options open to candidates besides quickly finding a role similar to their previous one. From starting fresh with a new career or becoming a business owner, to upskilling for a better position or making the move towards semi-retirement, people often take this opportunity to make a change. The specific needs of this type of candidate often can’t be met by recruiters, and they require a tailored approach from dedicated experts. A recruiter’s key stakeholder is their client as ultimately these are the people who will pay them when they have filled the vacancy with a suitable candidate. Whilst a good recruiter will want to match a suitable client and candidate together, they will always put the client’s needs first, not the candidates.

It’s also a myth that recruiters have a monopoly on the job market. The majority of employers – 91%[1] - seek talent using professional social networks. And while it is true recruiters can match certain candidates who have been made redundant with the right role, this only applies to those who are a match with open vacancies at the time. Outplacement companies will not only help candidates find those more visible roles, but will also delve deeper into the less obvious, or ‘hidden’ vacancies.

Insightful expertise

There are many recruitment consultants who are experts in their field and know the job market inside and out. However, 45% of recruiters leave their role after just 9 months[2]. This high turnover means there is increased likelihood of inconsistent service and the possibility of working with inexperienced consultants.

The majority of outplacement specialists have extensive knowledge about the job market, gained over several years. They are perfectly positioned to support those who have been made redundant and help them move forward. Their thorough, personalised approach provides candidates with insight in how to reskill or upskill, the best way to search for roles, networking techniques and how to harness the power of social media.

Individual approach for individual needs

Participants in outplacement programmes require a more personalised approach. This takes time and effort that many recruiters simply cannot commit to. The priority for recruiters is often those candidates that can quickly get matched with a role, and as mentioned, this represents the minority.

It’s crucial when dealing with redundancies that employees are treated well and offering outplacement services provides essential support to people who have contributed to your business. Remember, employees talk. Cutting costs with a recruiter may work in the short-term, but there’s a high chance that those made redundant will be dissatisfied with the overall process. When existing employees are aware of this delicate situation being handled poorly, it can negatively impact employee morale and engagement, as well as the organisation’s reputation.


To discover more about outplacement and how it supports your people and organisation, you can download the Best Practice Guide to Outplacement here.

For more information about how LHH can support your organisation feel free to get in touch with our expert consultants. 




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