Monday, August 15, 2005

Staff shortages in consulting

Question: When is a jobs bonanza not a jobs bonanza?

Answer: When your skills don't match the skillsets consulting firms are actually looking to hire!

My last blog post attracted criticism from several candidates who felt there simply isn't a "jobs bonanza" in the management consulting market right now. The evidence they presented is that they've found it impossible to secure a new job in consulting this year. The caveat to my "Jobs bonanza" statement is, of course, that the demand profile for consulting services has shifted quite considerably over the last years - so those individuals that were in demand 5 years ago are not necessarily the same people firms would like to hire today. I do stand by my assertion that this is the best time in the last 5 years to be looking for a consulting job - but clearly only if you've got the skills that are in demand.

The results of our first Quarterly "Consulting Prospects" survey will be out in the next couple of weeks - and the survey findings highlight the areas within consulting that are growing most robustly (and thus the practice areas that are most likely to be hiring). Unsurprisingly practice areas like Manufacturing are on the demise, whilst the likes of Financial Services and TMT consulting are back in vogue. Watch this space for the full findings...

But back to the "Jobs bonanza" debate.

As sponsors of the MCA's riverboat cruise last week, I had the chance to meet with a couple of hundred consultants from the likes of Accenture, Capgemini, Atos Consulting, BT, Deloitte, etc. Having been challenged on the state of the recruitment market in consulting, I went to the event hoping to hear first hand from consultants just how busy they are and how aggressively they are now recruiting.

I wasn't disappointed.

In aggregate, I heard that the major consultancies are now bumping up against serious capacity constraints - they simply don't have the number of consultants necessary to meet accelerating client demand. Recruitment teams are under tremendous pressure and have been given some stratospheric hiring targets for the next year. To try and address the shortfall, consultancies are getting creative and I heard that firms are encouraging consultants to take extra pay in lieu of holidays; introducing initiatives to entice new mothers back into employment; bolstering employee referral schemes. In short, all the things you would expect organisations to do if they find they are turning away business owing to staffing shortages.

The key for those struggling to get hired, then, is to present oneself (in the form of one's CV / resume) as someone that has the skills that are currently in demand. If you can prove you have these skills you will get hired. Back in 2003 the state of the market was a valid impediment to even suitable candidates securing a consulting job; but in 2005 you need to look beyond this. A lack of interviews or offers is a reflection on the candidate rather than the market...


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