The Corona pandemic has presented outplacement consulting with drastic challenges. On the one hand, the trend towards digitalization and working in remote situations is also shaping our consulting activities and demands new ways of working here. On the other hand, the situation on the labor market is making the application process itself more difficult for clients. The market is more volatile, and the number of unemployed has increased: at the end of January 2021, around 40% more people were unemployed in Switzerland than in the previous year (swissinfo). 

The Corona crisis, in addition to job loss, has a destabilizing effect on those affected. The application process has currently become even more demanding. The selection process with remote interviews demands a whole new set of skills from applicants. Additional know-how and training are required to compensate for the lack of routine compared to the face-to-face interview. 

Especially for our clients from the retail, tourism, hospitality, and industrial sectors, where the labor market dried up, a more acute situation arose since the beginning of 2020. At that moment, a return to the traditional industry and a comparable job was extremely difficult. New hiring’s were halted. Further employees were laid off. For the candidates in outplacement, the search for new professional fields of activity proved to be the key to the solution.

In its consulting services OTP picked up on these trends from the beginning of the pandemic and focused the design of outplacement programs on the new challenges. 

A good example here is the case of a tourism industry manager Enrique F., who lost his position as deputy manager of a travel agency in his early 50s. He received outplacement coaching from OTP from fall 2020 to spring 2021. 

Even though the termination had been foreshadowed, it was a personal crisis for this client. Twenty-five years of his successful work life came to an abrupt end. A return to the travel industry seemed extremely difficult.

Confidence for a positive solution returned only gradually. Enrique F. conducted a detailed assessment with OTP, which resulted in a multi-faceted competency profile, a re-branding of his work personality and an up-to-date CV. The result was the transformation of his self-image: after a long time the client realized again that his competence portfolio is a strong success profile. It includes seven languages and shines through sales generation in the 7-digit range. His personality demonstrates a high level of stress resilience, a strong service orientation and great communication strengths with individual customers. In addition, he convinces with his high professionalism when dealing with complaints.  

In coaching, the client regained full motivation and now saw the crisis as an opportunity. He was no longer looking for the same management position in the same industry but looked at the bigger picture. The program fostered his conceptual creativity to sift through new career fields with the help of the coach and to define the career goal in such a way that customer service through digital media came to the fore. This new search strategy involved

a) the identification of industries and fields of activity in which the client’s profile could be in demand, even with COVID 19 restrictions, 

b) expanding the reactive job search to include the active initiative job search, and 

(c) expanding the network through digital networking, such as with LinkedIn. 

In turn, the client experienced the implementation of traditional networking as boosting his self-confidence. Various orientation meetings and several specific job application opportunities came about as a result of the networking alone.

In these conversations, it became tangible to the client that despite the COVID 19 stresses of the labor market, specific professional niches existed for a new professional start.

As the new search strategy was systematically implemented with the support of the coach, the interview invitations started coming in. The preparation for the interviews took place mainly through digital media (Skype, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams). This practice effect in the remote interviews allowed him to strengthen his professional presentation. 

The result of his intensive collaboration with the coach was that 8 months after the start of the program, the candidate was able to enter a new job as a customer advisor in a large, renowned insurance company. His commitment, excellent client communication skills and stress resilience proved to be distinct success factors in the first six weeks in his new job. Enrique F. was also able to achieve his goal of exceeding his last salary: his current compensation is CHF 1,000. – per month higher than his previous salary.

In the personal and written feedback on the outplacement coaching, the client rated the continuous and intensive collaboration with the coach as the greatest benefit. In strongly motivating phases he was shown the right techniques and strategies to deal professionally with the digital dimension of the search strategy and application activities. In phases of demotivation, the coach was able to help as a personal mentor to overcome the down and to refresh motivation with new perspectives and approaches.

In conclusion, it can be said that digital-oriented outplacement coaching promotes success, especially in Corona times. It strengthens the personal digital competencies of the clients (especially 50+) and significantly expands the breadth of job offers in the use of the digital techniques working on the labor market.

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