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How to beat the lag in Professional Services Recruiting.

Accounting, consulting and law firms tend to hire talent when the need is pressing. In fact, this is a common practice among all professional services firms. Only when the market has clearly recovered will they begin to add headcount. As client work rolls in, they rush to find talent, bring it in the door, often pushing them out to client projects very quickly.

In a people-intensive business, you can’t have well-compensated professionals sitting on the bench for too long. Unfortunately, the delay in hiring leaves corporate recruiters at professional services firms with incredible workloads to be completed in short periods of time. Any delay, in this scenario, translates to lost billable hours, making the impact of this approach to corporate recruiting (i.e., doing it at the last minute) all too real. Failing to fill a req quickly means lost revenue … and probably a net gain for the competition.

The lag in professional services hiring relative to a market recovery is unlikely to change. While staffing up in advance would allow companies in this sector to secure top talent well ahead of the competition, the risk of a false start is believed to be too high to warrant adding headcount until a turn in the market is firm.

Even with this prevailing behavior, there are steps that professional services recruiters can take to get a head start on hiring. Well ahead of a market recovery, before the first flickers of hope are visible, corporate recruiters in professional services firms should begin to develop talent pools and qualify candidates (at least preliminary). With the most desirable talent identified, corporate recruiters can begin to cultivate the relationships that will lead to offer letters and filled reqs when the market is ready. So, while the competition is still getting started, the firm that plans ahead will be on-ramping new employees – and generating billable hours.

Today, a high unemployment rate and a global economic climate that has been tough for the professional services sector have resulted in large talent pools. Corporate recruiters will need to navigate it quickly to find the best fits for reqs when the business authorizes that they be filled.

It’s time to start acting – that’s right, not thinking, acting – now. Work with a talent pipeline development service to shrink these large talent pools into rich concentrations of high-impact employees for what will be key positions when deals close and the market turns. Later, as the pressure on new headcount begins to ease, you’ll be able to jump into action quickly, securing the market-changing employees that will propel your firm to industry leadership.

This supply chain approach isn't new, except to the business of recruiting. There’s a lot you can do before it’s time to hire. Define your short list now, and accelerate into a recovery.

Remember, if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready!

Louis P. Kadetsky, CPC
Managing Director

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