Looking to move jobs during a pandemic? Advice for tough times

“How’s the management consultancy job market, Chris?”

It’s moving so fast and is a confusing picture: more negatives than positives at this point but not all bad.

Many firms have reacted quickly: some redundancies already alas. I am also seeing candidates with consulting job offers that have been rescinded. I haven’t heard of accepted offers being withdrawn and I am aware of a mid-sized firm still planning their April and May intakes of management consultants. Many others have put recruitment on hold, or are on a go-slow. They’re keeping an eye open for candidates in anticipation of the eventual upturn. This is a sensible approach that applies in the case of some of the jobs on our website.

Each firm’s situation will differ depending on their sectors, service lines and project lifecycle: many have a strong pipeline but are not expecting new work to be signed off any time soon. They are not hiring but they are doing fine.

The picture on interim and “associate” is very fluid: on the negative side, firms will protect their permanent staff over associates. On a positive perspective, a “flexible workforce” unencumbered by IR35 concerns is likely to prove very attractive to firms that are busy but reluctant to hire permanent staff. I have heard anecdotal evidence of interim recruiters gearing up for a significant increase in demand.

Job search tips

Prism Executive Recruitment has been through two recessions and I’ve been in recruitment for at least three. That doesn’t merit a gold star but it gives me confidence that the storm will pass and also gives me some experience to share.

Some of my networks will be fortunate enough to have jobs and will hunker down, pull their collars up and weather the storm. Others will be fearful of their futures or just cheesed off and are looking for a job. Sadly there will be an increasing number who are not working and, worse, stuck at home to contemplate their misfortunes.

Alas, Prism can’t create jobs but what we can do is try and give advice and guidance on making sure your application is optimised when job opportunities arise or return.

Advice for job-seeking management consultants in tough times

For those in a secure job

  • Hold onto it! Don’t add to your pressure unnecessarily by resigning or volunteering for redundancy
  • Keep in mind that out of adversity comes opportunity. Be cautious but don’t close off the idea of a move. Remember the adage “you don’t have a decision to make until you have a job offer”.

For those in an insecure job

For those out of work and between contracts

  • All the same points apply regarding CV, LinkedIn profile and network.
  • So many great people with fantastic skills neglect to optimise their marketing and brand or think it’s not necessary or don’t know how. There is lots of information out there about how to do so including the guides on our website.
  • Check your personal marketing plan. Don’t have one? Get busy!
  • Review your network and prioritise direct approaches to potential interim or permanent employers. They may have work but won’t want to hire perm employees and/or pay an agency (hard but true!) and your CV might arrive at just the right time.

Job search: preparation is crucial

Don’t just start applying for jobs. It is important not to let the current situation influence you: if you wouldn’t have applied for or accepted a particular job under normal circumstances, it is not a good idea to let the Coronavirus situation cloud your judgement.

You need to be both strategic and tactical:

Where do you want to be in five or 10+ years’ time?

This brings in your personal circumstances especially aspects like location, work/life balance, family as well as the more obvious career stuff. This planning is essential and helps protect you from ill-considered job moves.

Why do you want a job move?

Really examine your objectives. Are you seeking more money? Career advancement? Better work-life balance? Values and culture? It may be a combination of several different factors, but it is helpful to weigh up the relative importance of these in advance. Ask yourself “if I were currently perfectly happy in my current/last job, how would this role and company sound?”. Clearly, you may have to be a bit pragmatic (see below) if you are not working, but it’s a useful reality check.

How flexible are you?

There is likely to be a requirement for some element of compromise with every new job. However, it is helpful to have a clear idea from the outset what aspects you are prepared to be flexible on and to what extent.

Only when you are clear about what roles you are seeking can you move on to the next steps and review your CV and LinkedIn profile. We cover this aspect of preparation in our guides.

Elsewhere on our website, we have information in our guides to help with your job search and optimise your chance of success.

Chris Sale

Meet the author

Chris Sale

Chris Sale is a very experienced recruitment consultant operating in executive recruitment and management consultancy recruitment. He has a wealth of expertise in recruiting a broad range of candidates in a variety of sectors. Since 1997 when he and two fellow directors set up Prism Executive Recruitment, he has concentrated on placing management consultants in consultancy firms and in senior role...

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