Management Consultancy Firms’ recruitment is rubbish

vacant management consultancy chair

It isn’t elegant English and smacks of biting the hand that feeds me but I’m afraid it’s true.

We get so used to the frustrations of slow and extended recruitment processes and myriad other impediments management consultancies put in the way of hiring great talent that it’s easy to forget:

It doesn’t have to be like this

I am reminded of this every time I recruit for a corporate seeking consultants. It’s often just wonderful:

  • We take a brief.
  • We find relevant candidates and send CVs.
  • They respond swiftly (perhaps the same day!) with feedback and interview options, sometimes in the next day or two.
  • Once they’ve met the candidates they give immediate feedback with further interview options.
  • After two or three stages (some of which may be using Skype/other video conference) they make a decision. And the offer won’t be the minimum they think they can get away with.

Ah yes but it’s different you say: they don’t have clients. No but they do have board level jobs running companies and therefore equally packed diaries and priorities to juggle. So why can many corporates run a straightforward process that delights candidates and secures great people when consultancies find it so difficult? Is this simply a case of “cobbler’s children” or is there something more fundamental?

Perhaps despite fine words about the importance of finding and hiring great people (“our firm’s future”) it’s actually not very high on people’s priority list.

I’ve been recruiting for management consultancy firms for over 20 years now and it’s always been the same. The huge changes in recruitment technology since then have, alas, not made one iota of difference to the problem.

I came across an old presentation I gave to a group of management consultancy recruiters. The presentation made these points, albeit in less controversial tone. I emphasised the huge competitive advantage that firms could gain from doing things faster, smarter and better. It remains true. Especially for smaller firms which don’t have the brand but can more than make up for it with an agile recruitment process.

Who knows: with hiring that made filling jobs easier they also might even be able to persuade recruitment agencies to lower their fees!