Recently, a business acquaintance asked me why our consultants are so good and why our competitors’ consultants were not. My response was, it really isn’t about the consultants at all. The competition has good consultants as well. It’s much more about the business model.
When I think about why our consultants are perceived as being better, it may not only be the quality of consultant or education of our consultants, but also the delivery of our model and the fact we make the time to devote to candidates. Our consultants are not servicing 150+ job seekers at a time and our focus is still on the personalized delivery.
However, we can’t ignore the increased importance of a virtual delivery system. Our competitors are moving further away from one-on-one delivery and trying to make a buck by delivering career transition services virtually, thereby “saving money” and commoditizing our industry.
We often discuss the the question, “Should we be changing our business model to compete in a virtual world?” When I look at the fact that the “big box” providers are all moving in this direction, I am left wondering if they know something that we haven’t discovered.
However, when I look at the reality of a virtual model and couple that with the feedback that we receive from those participating in our career transition programs, I become more convinced than ever that while virtual is a complimentary tool, it’s not the ideal method to help people find their next opportunity.
Obviously, an outplacement firm has to offer “state-of-the-art” technology. We, as well as our competitors, spend a lot of time and money implementing systems that can provide an efficient virtual experience for our career transition clients. We all spend a great deal of time educating the transitioning employees on how to use the system. However, when we look at the candidates who access the online resources available to them, the numbers are quite striking.
Less than 20% of all candidates within our system ever log on to start the initial online services. Now remember, our candidates are given the opportunity to have a one-on-one relationship with a dedicated career coach from the beginning. They are choosing to relate with a coach rather than to use the virtual tools. To me, this makes it clear that people would still prefer to have a live person with whom they can touch base than to have a webinar that they can access from their home.
After speaking with an ex-executive from a large, national outplacement firm, I was quite surprised to learn that the virtual model is not succeeding as well as the company had hoped. Initially, this seemed a bit shocking as companies adhere to the idea that by eliminating the one-on-one personal training and offering a commoditized product in the shape of virtual career transition programs they will save money.
We sincerely understand the need to minimize costs and save money (as cash is king); however, if a company has the resources to provide a cost effective but individualized program, it seems that program is ultimately more helpful to a departing employee.
Maybe the virtual model is not all it’s cracked up to be. After all, we are all still human and when faced with a vulnerable, emotional time, it is human nature to reach out to a familiar person and get direction/guidance and advice. What are your thoughts about virtual career transition? Have you been the recipient of one of these programs? I welcome your feedback.
Career transition new face image from Shutterstock