Getting the Skills You Need: Hiring in an Economic Downturn for Professional Services

Time to Read: 4.8 minutes

Updated: March 29, 2023

Despite a strong labor market and corporate growth, predictions of an economic downturn or even a coming recession continue to circulate. The professional service industries are often in high demand during times of economic uncertainty but that doesn’t mean they are unaffected by the pressures of tough market conditions. Particularly when it comes to hiring skilled professional services talent.

Companies may experience financial difficulties, reduced revenue, and a need to reduce costs, which often results in a hiring freeze or reduced hiring and a need for new workforce planning strategies to help organizations accesses needed or specialized skillsets.

Fewer positions available in the professional services industries means a larger pool of candidates applying for each open position. As a result, employers may have to sift through more resumes and conduct more interviews to find the best candidates and be more cautious about making hiring decisions, opting to hire only the most qualified and experienced candidates.

4 Steps for Hiring Professional Services Talent in an Economic Downturn

In such a challenging and competitive job market the importance of finding and hiring candidates with the right skills can’t be overstated. But with the right approach, it is still possible for employers to attract and hire top professional services talent, even during difficult economic times.

1. Identifying the Skills You Need

The first step to hiring high-caliber talent in the professional services industries and mitigating the effects of an economic downturn is strong workforce planning. Workforce planning can help you anticipate future growth and engage in succession planning. It can also help you be flexible around possible periods of high sales, absences, or busy periods. Most crucially it can help you identify the core professional services skills you need for business success, helping you direct your recruitment efforts accordingly.

To do this you’ll need to:

  • Identify your short- and long-term business goals
  • Analyze the skills already available in your current workforce
  • Develop plans for a variety of scenarios including recession, planned projects, etc.
  • Put in place recruitment and staff management processes to meet demand
  • Monitor the success of your hiring strategy

An RPO provider, like Pierpoint, can be an ideal partner for helping you develop and implement workforce planning strategies that can identify the professional services skills you need. They can be particularly helpful in hiring for much-needed soft skills like leadership, critical thinking, teamwork, adaptability, and communication.

2. Attracting and Selecting the Right Candidates

Once you know the skills you need and the candidates you are looking to attract you can focus on developing an appealing employer brand and work out the best places to advertise your roles. A strong employer brand can make it easier to find high-quality talent in the professional services industries, meaning you make the right hire the first time, saving you money and ensuring you don’t lose productivity. Good branding can also improve morale and lower turnover.

The key to engaging with professional services talent is building a strong online presence. Develop your website and ensure it’s easy to navigate and read on different devices. You can also build up a following using social media to showcase your company culture, values, and benefits. You should also ensure your job descriptions accurately reflect the skills and attributes needed for the role.

Then it’s a case of screening resumes and conducting interviews that will help you identify candidates with both the required technical and soft skills during the hiring process, ensuring you use your time wisely and select the right candidate quickly.

At Pierpoint our Enterprise RPO solution manages this for you. Helping you to connect with the right candidates, develop an employee value proposition that speaks to professional services talent, and build candidate relationships that will support your business no matter the economic outlook.

3. Upskilling and Retraining Current Staff

Of course, not every business has the budget to hire new staff, especially in an economic downturn. Investing in your current staff’s professional development can be a great way to overcome these challenges. Providing training and education to upskill current staff can help you close skills gaps efficiently and cost-effectively. But it is important to ensure the skills you choose to focus on will give you the best ROI further down the line. Try to ensure your development covers both technical and soft skills as well.

Offering opportunities for career growth and advancement can be beneficial in other ways too. It can be a crucial part of your employer branding, helping attract high-level talent. It can also improve retention as employees feel more valued.

4. Onboarding and Retaining New Staff

Effective onboarding for new hires can also help to reduce your reliance on hiring new staff as well as increase your productivity. By giving new hires the support they need through structured onboarding, creating a supportive and inclusive work environment, and offering opportunities for career growth and advancement, you can get them working at full capacity faster and improve your retention rates. In fact, 69% of employees who experience great onboarding are more likely to stay with an organization for three years, and 58% more likely to remain longer than three years.

Finding, hiring, and retaining candidates with the right skills during an economic downturn in the professional services industries can be tough thanks to increased competition. But by investing in your staff, creating a strong employer brand, and thorough workforce planning strategies you can mitigate the challenges and continue to attract, and crucially, retain talent.

If you require a talent acquisition partner for your professional services hiring, Pierpoint can help you with everything from talent mapping to strategic workforce planning and even volume hiring. Learn more about our full-service RPO solution, or book a call today to discuss your talent needs.

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Jen Mulholland

Jen is a successful recruitment and marketing professional. Driven by a genuine passion for writing, she provides insightful, accurate and engaging content for the Human Resources community across a wide range of topics and industries.

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