Prism’s plan for winning the war for talent in 2022

There are many signs of a buoyant management consultancy recruitment market and candidate shortages.

The lockdowns and uncertainty has made some wary of making a move. So good candidates are as difficult to hire as ever but are the life blood of a firm and the key to their future success. So finding and attracting them is critical.

Here’s Prism’s 6 point plan:

1. Define your Employer Brand

A flashy name for a simple concept: how can we be attractive to candidates?

The well known brands have a natural advantage perhaps but for smaller consultancies this can mean a hard look at the business and inevitably some soul searching about what can be done better.

A great starting point is to ask your current employees what REALLY attracted them to the firm and what they feel are the real strengths. How can you differentiate?

Also consider where your target candidates might be currently working as this may help craft a compelling alternative.

Candidates are motivated by different things at different stages of their career so keep that in mind too.

Many potential employees are motivated by values and culture and many firms are aware of this but also inevitably other factors are important. Don’t lose sight of competitive packages but also advertise your great work and great clients. Potential hires from larger firms might be surprised that smaller firm doesn’t mean smaller clients and smaller projects!

2. Think strategically as well as tactically when recruiting

There will always be projects to be staffed, attrition to be back filled and general headcount targets to be met. It is entirely sensible that tactical recruitment should be the priority. However good people who can enrich the gene pool, build business for you and be future leaders are so hard to find that you need to have a headcount model that can find space for top calibre people even if there is no active hiring need.

3. Assume recruitment will take six months and be pleasantly surprised if its quicker

Of course there are many variables but our experience is that from the first phone call to us to the candidate commencing, is typically six months, often longer. Of course hiring could be, and sometimes is, considerably quicker but you can’t rely on it. There are obvious “unknowns” – the time taken to actually identify a candidate even before the interview process starts and their subsequent notice period being the obvious ones but lots of other incremental factors can make weeks become months very quickly.

4. A good hire could generate as much business for you as a good client so make hiring the same priority.

Consultancy firms quite rightly view client development and client servicing as top priority and devote a lot of time and resources to it. However if there is acceptance of the direct and indirect financial value of a good employee then getting good people should be the same, but how often are recruitment processes and decisions second fiddle to client work? This causes delays reviewing and responding to CVs, finding availability for interviews, cancelling and rearranging interviews. All of which extends the recruitment process and makes it less likely you will hire the best candidate.

5. Make sure your recruitment process helps rather than hinders hiring

Candidates who are, from the start, keen to work for you because you are a well known name may not be dissuaded by a horrible recruitment experience. However the non brand name firm doesn’t always have that reassurance and they need to impress from the outset. And indeed the big firms who may appear to have candidates always knocking on the door will of course still risk losing the best people to the competition and may never attract the real superstars. There is an illusion of popularity which may foster complacency but sometimes the largest employers have a different hurdle to overcome, namely candidate preconceptions.

This topic is an article in its own right but headlines include:

  • Write enticing advertisements and job descriptions.
  • Make it easy to apply: does your website have a clunky and off putting process?
  • Respond to all applications – direct AND agents’. The candidate doesn’t differentiate.
  • Make sure the interviewers and the interview process will impress.
  • Manage expectations.
  • Try and add the personal touch. A key differentiator.
  • Walk through the process with an applicant’s eyes.
  • Ask for feedback: from recent hires, from candidates who say “no” and equally importantly, candidates you say no to

Your recruitment process is a showcase for your business and that applies not to just the one person who you get on board but also to the ten or twenty you don’t.

And on occasions it may need to be bent out of shape completely to get the best management consultancy candidates. Nothing impresses a prospective hire more than knowing you are able and willing to be flexible if there is a good reason.

6. Be smart in your use of external recruiters

You want to save on recruitment fees but you also want the best candidates and that always has, and always will, present a conflict.

There is logic for the use of internal recruiters and direct applications but the sensible use of third parties however can make a real difference to your ability to find and attract good candidates, especially if you lack a brand name. Smart firms employ a hybrid model.

You also need to ensure recruiters will work hard for you. “Success only” or contingency recruitment is saying to the agent – work for me for free in the hope of getting payment.

The behaviour of the recruiters reflects that – the time they devote to finding candidates for you will be directly proportionate to their perceptions of how likely it is they will get a fee, and the size of that fee, compared with other clients’ roles they are working on.

Don’t make the mistake of negotiating a big fee discount or using lots of agencies: all that means is that you will be bottom of the contingency recruiter’s priorities.

It should be born in mind that even a small retainer fee will almost always ensure that you are top of their priority list, over ALL contingency work because they are almost guaranteed a fee if they do a good job for you and find you an excellent hire. So both sides are happy!

To discuss any aspect of your recruitment process and strategy please contact: Chris Sale, Managing Director, Prism Executive Recruitment – [email protected]


Recruitment consultants assist with the recruitment for interim and permanent roles at their client company. They work closely with the client to ensure that any potiential candiates are the best match for the role. Recruitment consultants usually interview any potiental candidate. As a recruitment consultant, we develop close relationships with our clients and candidates. We spend our time reviewing information about a candidate and then matching them to a particular role within our client's organisation.

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