Consultants are on-trend. In fact, the landscape of hiring and finding consultants is skyrocketing (and not just because of the pandemic).
Companies have always needed interim workers — people to fill in the gaps until the job is done or a permanent hire makes sense. But now, companies need consultants in higher volumes than ever.
At BVOH, we’ve seen a 47% increase in demand for high-quality accounting and finance consultants since December of 2020. While growth is nothing new to the Bay Area, in the past, companies had time and resources to focus on hiring permanent employees for their open positions.
Typically, employees gave their companies a heads-up if they were leaving, allowing ample time to taper off while having someone else on the team pick up the slack. There were plenty of resources and a bit more time to fill in for that person as they transitioned out. Now, transitions are happening rapidly.
Also, before the SPAC transaction, companies had time to prepare for their IPO. If a company was looking to go public, they’d have 6-12 months of preparation time to get their accounting systems and processes in place. Now, companies are looking to go public via SPAC transaction in 3-6 months — which isn’t enough time to find, hire, and train permanent employees to get the company ready.
Before 2020, these issues would have posed a major problem. Geographic constraints made it difficult to find and hire good consultants. Remote work wasn’t a viable option for many companies, so they were limited to local candidates. Companies were paying Bay Area prices and could only find consultants within commuting range of their office.
Now, we may have less time, but we also have more consulting talent on the market. With the nationwide embrace of remote work, we have a rich talent pool of candidates from around the country to help fill in the gaps — no matter how quickly they come.
How Are Hiring Managers Handling These Changes?
Under the strain of rapid timelines with limited resources, hiring managers are stressed. They’re having to take on multiple roles within their company and they’re maxed out. In these situations, the CFO isn’t just working on strategy and fundraising, they’re also acting as the controller, FP&A analyst, and CFO at the same time. They’re essentially working three jobs.
On top of managing their own burnout, they’re also managing the burnout of their employees. Everyone is feeling stretched — which can create a negative culture within these organizations.
To compound the stress, the shortened timeline has broken the traditional hiring method. Hiring managers are trying to adopt the new paradigm and pace for hiring, while simultaneously trying to identify which problems are short-term vs. long-term.
Because of all the stress and changes, it’s difficult for them to identify the permanent resources they even need. We’ve heard multiple hiring managers say, “I’m stretched too thin, but I’m having a hard time figuring out who I need to hire long-term. All I can see is the list of 10 projects I need to be completed in the next three months.” Overall, they’re experiencing a lack of clarity about who could help alleviate the workload now — and how that hire might look in the long run.
If they’re able to identify who they need to hire, they’re likely overwhelmed by the new onboarding process for full-time employees. Remote onboarding and training are complex and difficult. Companies are doing a good job — but it takes time and work. When that’s compounded with a pressing short-term project, the complexity of remote onboarding may feel like too much.
“With the nationwide embrace of remote work, we have a rich talent pool of candidates from around the country to help fill in the gaps — no matter how quickly they come.”
How The Hiring Landscape Is Evolving
Consultants are easing the load for these hiring managers. And hiring consultants has become a much smoother process.
Over the past year, companies have found that tapping into consulting talent around the nation leads to less expensive hires and a greater talent pool overall. Rather than deal with the geographic limitations of the old hiring landscape, companies have realized consultants are a great fit for 100% remote work.
After all, you’re not hiring consultants for their ability to come into the office — you’re hiring them for their expertise. Which makes onboarding a non-issue. They typically need little to no training since they’re working in their area of specialty.
Plus, new market dynamics have made consultants essential. The SPAC market has sped up the timeline for IPOs. Instead of going public over the course of 12-24 months, companies now make the transition in 3-6 months. There’s simply not time to make permanent hires to walk a company through the process. Instead, companies need to hire IPO experts — and they need them onboard immediately.
Consultants are also filling in during turnover transitions. Because there’s an increase in hiring overall, we’re seeing high volumes of turnover. Plus, it might not be just one person leaving, but 2-3 people leaving at the same time. This leaves huge holes in the organizations. Since it’s an employee’s market, it’s really difficult to find good people to fill in the gaps. Positions are staying open much longer than before COVID, leading to burnout among the remaining accounting and finance professionals. Consultants are helping to ease this load.
As companies have been forced to hire more consultants, they’ve found they like the freedom it offers too. We’re in an “on-demand world” and companies don’t always want the burden and rigidity of being the employer of record. They’re finding that hiring consultants offers flexibility and value without the long-term implications of employee management. They want the option to plug in experts when they need them without having to manage and develop the talent.
Plus, we’re still dealing with unpredictability — which keeps budget restrictions tight. However, the consulting budget is often separate. Companies might not have a full-time hiring budget but they can still hire a consultant to help in two key ways:
- Offer relief to full-time employees
- Take on a project involving specific expertise (accounting implementation, system implementation, or due diligence on acquisition)
More than ever, companies are relying on consultants to come in and help with special projects so their internal team can focus on what they do well. By doing so, hiring managers keep the team happy and decrease turnover by releasing the burden of these special projects to someone else.
“Over the past year, companies have found that tapping into consulting talent around the nation leads to less expensive hires and a greater talent pool overall. Rather than deal with the geographic limitations of the old hiring landscape, companies have realized consultants are a great fit for 100% remote work.”
Next Steps For Hiring Managers
It’s time to think about doing things in a different, creative way.
Leaders need to have a growth mindset — seeing the challenges they face as opportunities for growth and development, not obstacles that will cause a setback. And as a leader, this involves considering new ways of hiring that make your company and each individual on your team more successful.
Utilizing consultants and on-demand workers to get projects completed is just one creative solution to your current situation. Taking risks on these consultants usually ends with better clarity and an added value to your company.
Making a permanent hire requires you to identify the exact right fit for your company, invest in management and development for the employee, and ensure the role continues to meet their long-term career plans as well as benefit the company.
Why limit yourself to the constraints of a permanent hire when you can hire people to start on Monday to solve the issues keeping you up at night?
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