3 Challenges Facing Professional Services & How Recruiting Can Help

Drew Whitehurst | January 16, 2020

The professional services industry is changing at a rapid pace. In 2019 alone the industry grew by an average of 24,000 jobs per month and is set to grow by 1.7 million jobs over the next decade. 

Coupled with rapid growth, 44% of professional service organizations report feeling the pressure of competition, 37% struggle with managing client expectations, and 31% feel they have limited access to required skills.

Whether you’re a consultant, a legal professional, or in the finance industry, adapting to new and existing challenges is the key to staying ahead. Here are three main challenges facing the professional services industry and how making changes to your hiring process can help:

1. Increased Competition

Over the last few years, professional services organizations have faced a steady increase in competition, both from the growth of the industry and from customers’ ability to make more informed decisions.

In one trend identifying survey, 80% of professional services organizations reported seeing an increase in competition in the last 12 months, up 18% from the previous year. Additionally, the professional services industry is growing rapidly. This means there will be more competitors cropping up, as well as greater pressure to hire the best employees. 

In addition to growth within the industry, potential clients are using more technology to connect to knowledge and services. As a result, when looking for new partners, competitors and information about them are only a few clicks away.

Solution: Increase Your Expertise – Continue to increase your in-house capabilities by hiring specialized staff and multidisciplinary teams.

In a study by McKinsey, high performers in complex jobs were up to 8x more productive than average performers. Hiring expert talent not only increases the overall ability of your organization but gives you an edge over the competition.

2. A Changing Internal Structure Business Model

Along with a steady increase in competition, professional services organizations are being forced to increase the efficiency and speed needed to meet customer demand. Resulting in pressured HR and hiring structures to retain the talent needed to meet those needs.

A recent trend shows that businesses have increased their use of outsourced or contracted work to aid in their ability to meet customer needs. In a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, 25-35% of individuals surveyed supplemented their work partially or entirely through freelancing. Organizations that have not adopted a more flexible model have been forced to turn down work due to a lack of expertise internally. 

Inflexible work conditions are also driving away both internal and external talent within organizations, causing some organizations to miss out on talented individuals. LinkedIn recently revealed that work flexibility was listed by 72% of surveyed HR professionals as being a top trend of 2019 transforming workplaces.

Solution: Embrace Workplace Flexibility – With workplace flexibility trending and many professionals already freelancing on the side, retaining existing talent and attracting new talent is a must. Retaining talent not only keeps individuals with valuable knowledge, skills, and experience within your organization, it keeps these individuals away from competitors. Consider embracing popular options like remote working flexibility, flexible work hours, and unlimited PTO.

Companies like Proctor & Gamble started their Flex@work program and found that employees who used work flexibility options were 5x more likely to give their best performance, and 6x more likely to stay with P&G.

3. Technological Disruption

To round out this list, new technology is rapidly changing the way businesses operate and interact. If adopted, new technology allows professional service organizations to advance the quality of the service provided. It also allows for new ways to automate or assist in tasks, allowing organizations to meet quicker timelines and produce better margins.

In a recent survey, Statista revealed that 85% of professional service organizations were likely to adopt big data analytics between 2018 and 2022. 76% of those surveyed were also likely to adopt cloud computing, along with 74% to adopt machine learning technology.

On top of this, technological development and data trends have begun to replace some of the entry-level work done in the professional services industry. For example, in a report on digital transformation, Accenture reported that ‘The Big Four’ accounting firms have begun to hire algorithm design engineers in place of some entry-level positions with the goal of automating some entry-level tasks.

Solution: Adopt Hiring Technology – Take advantage of the new technology available to businesses. Adopting hiring technology like video interviewing and/or automated scheduling can not only increase the speed with which you hire candidates but also saves money in the process. For example, using interviewstream, Extraco Banks saw the efficiency of their hiring process increase by 50% and saved an average of $817 per candidate. 

Professional Services is undoubtedly in for big changes in the future and we hope that these suggestions can bring some clarity on how to deal with them.

Whether you’re facing new pressure from competition, coping with the challenges of needing to expand your team, or dealing with organizational change, taking steps to innovate your hiring process can help curb some of the top challenges facing professional services.

Want to learn more about how interviewing technology can modernize your hiring process? Check out our eBook on the advantages of interview scheduling.

About The Author

Drew Whitehurst is the Director of Marketing at interviewstream. He's been with the company since 2014 working in client services and marketing. He is an analytical thinker, coffee enthusiast, and hobbyist at heart.


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