If you know you’re going to have to lay off numerous workers over the coming months or years, it’s stressful and challenging to even think about, let alone act on. That’s why it helps to invest in outplacement services that will make the transition easier for the employees you have to say goodbye to. Outplacement firms will help laid-off staff members update their job application documents, practice interview questions, network, negotiate new contracts, and much more. In turn, this helps you support the people you have to let go and show your other team members that you care about the happiness and future of your personnel. Here are some tips for choosing the best services provider when the time comes. Check for Experience As you start to compile a shortlist of operators you might hire, find out how much experience each of them has in the world of outplacement. Is this the focus of their businesses and something they’ve been doing for years, or is it a new niche element of their work that they’re just new to? It helps to determine, too, if the candidates you’re considering have any niche industry knowledge in the specific sector your company operates in. There are often factors relevant to some areas and not others that outplacement personnel must know and understand to do their job successfully. Compare Prices Carefully Price will be one of the key elements determining which outplacement services firm you hire, although it certainly shouldn’t be the only one. As you learn about the fees different places charge, make sure you’re comparing “apples with apples,” as the saying goes. Ask for a quote on the same level of service from each business and find out exactly what they include for the prices they quote you. Sometimes companies can seem much cheaper than their competitors, but when you analyze the information more closely, you realize they charge extra for things that others don’t, such as one-on-one or on-site appointments, day or time availability, the use of technology, and more. It helps to ask to read through a template contract early on to get an idea of the types of prices you’ll be looking at and exactly what’s included for the money. In particular, pay attention to the terms and conditions, including those related to canceling services. Ask about Customization and Flexibility Another crucial step when choosing the best outplacement services firm is to see if customization is achievable. To get the best results from the services, you’ll want what’s on offer to be tailored to your available budget and your organization’s specific needs. For example, you might want a firm to offer resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and other content writing plus some interview coaching for under a certain amount. Or, you could be looking to have an outplacement company help departing staff members with networking, referrals, general job search strategy, and negotiating employment contracts. Don’t feel you have to go for the cookie-cutter approach some businesses recommend, as you’re the client, and it comes down to what you need and want and can afford to spend. Plus, it’s worth asking about flexibility to see if you can increase or decrease service levels during different periods of a contract or year as needed or make other changes as your business needs to alter. Learn about Results Don’t sign up with a service provider until you’ve received some data from them about their results for other clients. For example, what’s the average percentage of laid-off workers who get a new job within the first month of using their outplacement services, or how many new clients do companies receive via a referral? Don’t be shy about asking to speak with some of each firm’s other clients so you can get some insights directly from those who have already used their services, too. Find Out Who Delivers Services Take the time to ask precisely who will deliver outplacement services if you pick each organization. You might be impressed with the owners, managers, or other people you chat with from each firm, but it’s often others who do the day-to-day service delivery. Ask about who these people are, what their backgrounds are, if they’re certified, how many years of experience they have, and so on. It’s also worth determining the types of connections these workers have if you’re going to pay a company to help exiting employees network and get jobs from referrals. Strong industry contacts can make a big difference. An outplacement firm should bring as much to the table as possible to put your laid-off personnel in the best possible position to move onto new roles ASAP. Always choose an outplacement service provider with care. Not only will you be investing hard-earned money into the firm you select, but also be counting on them to positively impact your relationship with your current and exiting employees.