Navigating a Layoff: Unlocking Success in Career Transitions

Aug 31, 2023 | Outplacement and Career Transition

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Outplacement and Career Transition NegotiationEnding an employment relationship is never easy, but there are tools available to help guide employees and employers through the transition. Outplacement services can provide a positive, supportive experience for departing employees while strengthening the company’s reputation as a fair and compassionate employer.

So, what is outplacement, exactly? Outplacement is a benefit that companies offer to newly laid-off workers to assist them in their career transition and with reentering the job market. Outplacement services typically include a range of supports from career assessment and coaching to resume review and interview prep and can even incorporate counselling services such as support with self-esteem, confidence, and coping. Also known as career transition services, outplacement is typically built into a severance package and can be a great negotiating point for exiting employees. In this blog post, we’ll talk more about outplacement negotiation and other strategies for navigating a layoff.

Types of Negotiation during Outplacement

As an employee facing layoff or termination, negotiations may be the furthest thing from your mind. You could be grappling with feelings of hurt, grief, fear, and anxiety. However, you should know that the terms of a severance or settlement agreement are often completely negotiable, and that includes any outplacement services.

Negotiating your exit package from a company can be just as important as negotiating your initial compensation and benefits. Some of the items up for negotiation during outplacement may include:

  • Severance packages
  • Job search allowances
  • Salaries
  • Relocation packages

You may not realize it, but companies are keen to ensure a smooth process when laying off employees, wanting to ensure the reputation of the business and morale of employees is maintained. It is truly to their advantage to make the parting as agreeable as possible for the employee.

So, take time to think about your personal needs and goals as you move to the next phase in your career. It will be invaluable when it comes to outplacement negotiation.

Challenges Faced During Outplacement and Transition

Career transitions create opportunity for transformation and personal discovery. But they can also be a source of challenge for both employee and employer. Each should consider the following hurdles when contemplating outplacement benefits.

  • Uncertainty about Market Value: Knowing your market value is key in the search for new employment. Job title, years of experience, and geographic region are all factors to consider in estimating how much you should be compensated for your work.
  • Emotional Impact of Job Loss: Regardless of the circumstances, losing a job can take a huge emotional toll. Employers will need to exercise patience and sensitivity toward laid-off employees managing an amalgam of emotions, such as anger and loss.
  • Limited Negotiation Experience: As an employee, it may be years or even decades since you last negotiated with an employer. This lack of practice can leave you intimidated and doubtful of your negotiation skills and with unrealized benefits on the table.
  • Lack of Knowledge about Industry Norms: The way a company functions could be vastly different from the current industry standard. Some employers fail to keep abreast of industry norms to ensure company culture and employees’ skills, training, etc. align with expectations. 
  • Balancing Personal Needs and Organizational Constraints: Perhaps a displaced employee needs their dental benefits to cover the cost of an unexpected root canal, but the employer doesn’t usually continue benefits for laid-off employees. Understanding whether mutually beneficial resolutions are available is important for both parties.
  • Negotiating with Multiple Parties: Fielding multiple offers may not seem like a bad thing, but keep in mind that negotiations can become messy when you’re dealing with different parties who have competing interests. 
  • Managing Time Constraints: Employers may be tempted to fast-track outplacement offerings due to time (and possibly monetary) constraints, leaving the outgoing worker dissatisfied and uncertain about next steps. 
  • Handling Counteroffers and Competing Offers: If you’re an unseasoned negotiator, you might not know what constitutes a reasonable counteroffer. Approaching the table unprepared can lead you to accept an offer that seriously undervalues your worth. 
  • Addressing Gaps in Qualifications or Experience: Finding a new job could take longer than expected, creating a gap in employment. Prospective employers may question the status of your skills and qualifications. 
  • Maintaining Professionalism and Positive Relationships: Tensions can run high during layoffs. Not handling conflicts effectively can permanently damage the working relationship.

How Can Outplacement and Transition Services Help Both Employees and Employers?

It’s clear that layoffs can give rise to numerous obstacles, some foreseen and others unanticipated. Workers and their employers may not be equipped to handle these barriers on their own. Here’s what a good outplacement service has to offer to both sides.

  • Expert Guidance and Advice: Outplacement professionals provide specialized guidance and advice that will help employers manage the layoff with professionalism and integrity and help workers achieve success in their respective industry following a layoff.
  • Research and Benchmarking: Career transition services include researching market rates and trends to pinpoint an employee’s market value and identify areas where they can improve their competitiveness.
  • Personalized Assessment and Positioning: Outplacement services also provide career assessment to help employees determine their fit with careers of interest, allowing them to choose positions that better utilize their unique skillset and best align with their needs and preferences.
  • Tailored Negotiation Strategies: An outplacement specialist can boost employees’ negotiation skills ahead of a potential job offer, with advice on salary, bonuses, stock options, and other compensation negotiations.
  • Role-Playing and Practice: Career transition professionals help develop a candidate’s interview skills by conducting mock interviews, where they can observe and offer feedback on body language and responses to possible questions and scenarios.
  • Emotional Support and Confidence-Building: Outplacement services extend to emotional support, recognizing the devastating impact a layoff can have on a worker’s mental health. Staff psychologists offer employees a safe space to discuss their emotions, building their confidence in the career development process.
  • Ongoing Support and Follow-Up: Support for former employees continues even after they have secured new employment. Outplacement specialists will provide continuing guidance to make certain the employee is meeting their career objectives and benchmarks.

Ultimately, employers who invest in outplacement services position themselves as an “employee-first company” committed to the well-being and career growth of their talent. This creates an efficient, good-faith termination process that benefits both the employee and the business.

Gain the Upper Hand with Canada Career Counselling

Navigating a layoff can be tricky for employees and employers alike. Fortunately for employees, you can negotiate for outplacement benefits when leaving your company. And if your company is facing the difficult decision of terminating dedicated employees, you don’t have to go at it alone. Canada Career Counselling provides outplacement services packages to companies looking to support their employees through this career transition.

We provide our personalized, one-on-one services virtually across Canada, and in-person in Toronto, Calgary, and Halifax. Contact us today to learn how we can best meet your outplacement needs.



  • April Dyrda

    Written by April Dyrda, a Registered Psychologist and the Practice Director of Canada Career Counselling – Calgary. April is an experienced Career Coach, Counsellor, and Consultant, who has devoted her work to helping people find success and a sense of fulfillment in their careers. Her practical and collaborative approach to counselling empowers clients to make decisions that directly align with their career aspirations. April also brings years of both personal and professional corporate experience working with businesses globally on developing their people.

    To schedule a 15-minute complimentary consultation with April, email our team at [email protected] or submit an inquiry form here. You may be able to use your insurance plan or extended health benefits to cover counselling and assessment fees.

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