Today’s Challenges of Recruiting for Professional Service Firms
Today, firms are being challenged to redefine their employee value propositions and identify the right levers to recruit, engage, and motivate client-facing talent effectively. Recently, major law firms have announced first-year law school graduates will have starting salaries of $215,000, which has a ripple effect on pay for all levels of associate attorneys. Notwithstanding this, there is a growing realization that the right strategy to limit the departure of staff will not only be through cash compensation but also through other total reward vehicles, which will vary from firm to firm depending on their particular business and talent strategies.
A Breakdown on Professional Services Firm Challenges
Some examples include:
A total rewards strategy that is suitable for one firm will not necessarily be the right approach for another. Use of advanced employee sensing tools, such as digital focus groups and conjoint surveys, can evaluate what your staff believes is most important and how your current offerings are perceived internally. In today’s recruiting and retention atmosphere, introducing variability and choice into those offerings can avoid the assumption that a “one-size-fits-all” approach will work with an increasingly diverse workforce.
Another important factor is investing in thoughtful upskilling and reskilling. Reevaluate your talent strategy to gain a better understanding of the skills needed on engagements both today and in the future; consider which skills to acquire via midcareer hires at higher job levels versus those for which you aim to train current staff for deployment on client engagements and longer-term individual development.
Human Resources programs and processes may need to be revamped for an increasingly virtual workforce. The reality is that your current methods and programs may be ill-suited to a more remote workforce. Understand how the HR function is structured and equipped to serve staff no longer in the office and determine how to deploy technology. Create a change management strategy for performance coaches and staff for how the new normal will operate and provide proper training and coaching.
Reimagine the employee work experience. In conjunction with ongoing efforts to redesign how work is performed, give equal consideration and focus to the employee experience. This is the opportunity to put all ideas on the table and apply a design-thinking approach to push the envelope on what is possible and innovative. Staff are departing the industry because they don’t view the career model as attractive in the long term. Identify what’s lacking, and pilot specific programs and approaches in targeted practices to determine whether they are viable for your firm.
What all this points to is a whole new set of concerns regarding recruiting, hiring, and retention across the entire spectrum of professional service firms. Given the complexity of the change, firms will need to recruit, interview, and screen in a whole new way. A relationship with a recruiting firm that understands and stands for the demands of this new world is likely to produce the best results. An effective recruiting partner will partner with the company to identify the right combination of skill and experience to find the top candidates and to convey to them what the hiring company stands for.