Posted by: Gareth Evans

Posted on: .

Professional Services Market Update June 2019

The professional services market has been buoyant in the last 6 months, notably at junior and mid-manager levels, and across legal and consulting firms in particular. We responded to this development by establishing a specialist Professional Services division within Oakleaf, which was met with high demand from clients for candidates and continues to grow. Given current hiring patterns, I am optimistic that this will continue through 2019/20.

The Big Four firms continue to restructure their HR functions, ensuring demand for commercially focused HR Business Partners and specialists in recruitment, talent and learning. Refreshingly, there has been a drive to secure talent from outside of their direct competition, instead, looking for experienced professionals with diverse backgrounds who can play important roles in driving change.

Small to medium-sized firms within the professional services sector have shown a real demand for recruitment, learning and talent specialists as many historically traditional HR functions within these organisations are evolving their models. SME firms are either starting to hire their first specialists in recruitment and learning or are looking to build on these fledgling teams. The larger firms are restructuring their recruitment and learning functions and we are seeing trends of hiring transformation specialists, both as interims and in permanent roles as commercially focused HR Project Managers.

While there have been refreshing signs of firms hiring from outside of their sector in professional services, legal firms still appear to be reticent to hire HR specialists outside their world. The caution appears to be more from partners within firms who appear to prefer the security of “like for like” hires, rather than senior HR leaders who appear to be more open on candidate backgrounds and optimistic about the positive change these individuals could bring from a people and broader cultural perspective.

Salary levels have remained reasonably static but firms, and indeed candidates, are increasingly focused on diversity and wellbeing, realising their benefits packages need to be more competitive in order to continue to attract talent from different sectors who can drive change. Candidates appear to be more motivated to join a firm offering flexibility of working, rather than moving purely to increase their total compensation.

The consistent theme of the HR market in professional services firms has actually been its inconsistency. Historically, the vast majority of our portfolio of work has been for HR Generalists. The last six months have witnessed a high demand for recruiters, at one point being 50% of the roles we were recruiting for. The need to hire learning & development professionals and graduate recruiters have been significant at different periods and the last 6-12 months has not followed the normal hiring trends of previous years.

We have witnessed significant growth in our specialist sectors this year, our work with legal firms especially having doubled year on year and an already candidate driven market has become even more so as a result.

If you are looking for a HR role in the professional services industry and wish to discuss opportunities available to you then please don't hesitate to reach out for a confidential discussion.

Gareth Evans

0207 337 7698

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