The Importance of Process and how Professional Services Firms tend to get it wrong

Written by J. Crawley on Monday, 12 December 2016

Ask any professional services individual who has moved from one firm to another about their recruitment experience and you will probably get a whince, particularly those that have gone through a direct admit Partner process. It is not uncommon for the process to take 6-12 months ( the longest I have experienced was over 2 years), so it is a little amazing that any moves at all at a senior level. So how is it, these firms which charge their own professionals out at £000's per day to advise their clients, seem so incapable of the simple act of recruiting into their own ranks. Is is that they are being too stringent with their process to ensure they only get the very best? - maybe. Or is that by their very nature, collegiate partnerships struggle top make conclusive decisions easily?

Clearly any firm that wants the best talent wants to be stringent in its process, but we believe you can be both stringent and efficient and create a positive hiring experience that actually draws in additional talent - this is the work we do with our clients to make them more efficient hirers.

Most senior hire programmes fail not on the lack of available talent, but rather on process, indecision and inactivity. So let's look at all three in turn:

Process - We advise clients when they embark on a senior hire programme, whether for one hire or twenty, to plan in advance. Decide what interview and assessment steps there will be, block out diaries in advance of those to be involved in the assessment, and finally and most importantly inform the candidate(s) of the process at the outset to ensure they are motivated to see it through.

Indecision - Waxing and waning about market conditions half way through a process is the easiest way to lose a motivated candidate. Ensure the business has fully signed off on the investment before embarking on the hiring programme. Don't try and get a great candidate for an idea you have and then try and sell it to your colleagues who need to be involved in the process

Inactivity - When the process stalls, maybe due to a condition change, or a internal reorganisation the most important thing is upfront communication. You might be amazed how tolerant a motivated candidate is to to process if they receive timely communications on issues - they may even be able to provide evidence to help overcome issues and get decisions made. Whatever you do dont avoid the issue and DONT go silent. Nothing will harm your firms reputation more.

So in summary - Plan ahead, keep the process moving and communicate - its simple a matter of respect.

James Crawley, London, Dec 2016