Outplacement – East vs West

Outplacement – East vs West by geminipersonnel 5th Feb, 2020
Outplacement – East vs West


HR consulting blog February 2020

Happy new year everyone! Wishing the Year of the Rat to be a successful year for all of you who are reading this blog! To my last blog, which was about outplacement in Hong Kong versus China, a few of my readers replied that they would love to know more about the way outplacement works in Asia compared to other parts of the world. That is why this month’s blog is titled Outplacement – East vs West. Before I start, I should emphasise the content here is based on my experience and observations, and I absolutely welcome you to share your views and thoughts in the comments section! I have identified two key areas for comparison between outplacement support in East versus West:

1.     Market maturity

Perhaps you have seen the movie “Up in the air” back in 2009. This film is about the main character Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney), and his encounters as a professional outplacement consultant. This may even be the first time you heard of this service’s existence (it was for me!). The emergence of outplacement support in the United States dates all the way back to post-WWII, when a group of career professionals offered support to veterans, helping them to (re-)enter the labour market. It was in the 1960s that the first outplacement firm was founded and the market has matured since then. Nowadays, for many sizable organisations, it is common practice to offer outplacement to those they let go, and it is also common for individuals to seek professional support themselves when transitioning in their careers.  Meanwhile, in Asia, it wasn’t until the 1990s that organisations started to provide outplacement support to their employees, mainly because they had or wanted to follow procedures of their HQs in the US/Europe. Today, I still regard outplacement as a developing market at this side of the world, and in most Asian countries, it is still unknown to many (organisations and individuals) as a solution during a career transition.  

2.     Form of support

In the West, outplacement support is an established business where the providers are sizable and experienced. Job-seekers are supported by a team of consultants; consultants that help them to write and formulate CVs, professional counsellors to support them with mental support, another consultant responsible for job search and interview preparation support; this high degree of specialisation shows how mature the outplacement market is in the West. It also enables firms to make a sizeable investment on outplacement related technology such as online platforms, where significant improvements were made over the last five years with job search/career support platforms having been developed. Some platforms offer 24-7 coaching services, enabling you to one-click-talk to a career coach and ask for career advice anytime anywhere. Platforms also come with networking tools, application trackers, e-learning materials and assessment tools. The rise of these platforms has broken down all geographical barriers, and transformed the industry to allow career coaching to be digital, time-efficient and flexible.  

Meanwhile in the East, outplacement has slowly evolved over the last 5 years with a growing number of service providers in the market. Nowadays the support provided is not limited to the traditional 1-to-1, face-to-face way of coaching anymore; collective job search workshops and virtual consultations are offered as part of the solution when required. There is also a growing A digital element is an integral part of the support solution more and more often as well. Fair to say, the entire industry is catching up gradually with the West and it could only get better in the next 5 years!

I hope this blog will give you a better idea on the outplacement market globally. There will be another 2 blogs coming up over the next 2 months on outplacement too, so remember to follow my blog and stay tuned!

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