4 in 10 UK management consultants are looking for new job

30 March 2021 Consultancy.uk 5 min. read

Roughly 40% of the UK’s management consultants are presently searching for a new job. According to a new survey, more than one-third of these were forced departures, having been made redundant during the Covid-19-pandemic.

To determine the state of the labour market in the UK consulting sector, Prism Executive Recruitment canvassed over 3,500 experienced management consultants with a short questionnaire. Most of the respondents had over 10 years’ total experience, while 80% had been permanently employed as a management consultant within the last five years.

The resulting ‘Management Consultancy Job Search Survey 2021’ found that that 39% of consultants are looking for new job. At the same time, 29% said that Covid-19 disruption had made them more likely to seek a move elsewhere. While around 50% of consultants identified as “not actively looking,” many said they were still open to approach or occasionally applied to job advertisements, while just 12% said they were not interested in a job move at all.

Why are active job seekers looking for a move?

While many firms have been celebrating ‘surprisingly stable results’ from 2020, the profit margin their results tout only tells part of the story. Many of the biggest consulting firms have looked to get by via the shedding of hundreds of jobs, and here, of the consultants looking for a new role, 36% said their job search was not voluntary.

Zooming in on the group which have been made redundant or otherwise agreed to depart from a firm, in most cases this group consists of experienced consultants. This may indicate some degree of prejudice among employers regarding age, but also correlates somewhat to the fact that retaining experienced consultants is more expensive for employers than younger ones.

Drivers for new job openness

Examining the group of voluntary active job seekers, Prism found that “seeking a new challenge” and “limited career prospects” were the main reasons, while “discomfort with the culture of the firm” was also important. Meanwhile, passive candidates also highly rated the idea of “seeking a new challenge,” as well as “seeking a salary increase.”

Reason why passive candidates may seek a job move

Different age demographics valued certain prospects more highly. For those in the earlier stages of their careers, “seeking a new challenge” and “not getting interesting work” were key reasons for the job search. In contrast, passive candidates in this cohort were again driven more by the promise of salary progression.

At the same time, while passive job seekers of more than a decade of experience were driven “seeking a salary increase,” active seekers were more often driven by “discomfort with the firm’s culture.” Just why this might be is unclear; however, the particular demographic might have been with firms long enough to notice aspects of their culture which bother them, while still seeing themselves as ‘young’ enough to find something better elsewhere.

What do consultants look for?

Following on from this, when it comes to which factors are highest on the agenda in a job search, “job responsibilities and scope,” “base salary” and “people/culture/employer’s values” unsurprisingly take top priority. Once more, however, the importance of certain factors differed between age demographics. For example, consultants of more than 20 years of experience ranked “job responsibilities and scope” highest, followed “base salary/salary package” – however, presumably as they are largely applying for senior roles already, future “Career prospects” are hardly mentioned by this group.

Single most important factor in new role

Surprisingly, most job seekers believe listed “brand”, “size of employer” and “job security” relatively lowly in their priorities. Amid the economic uncertainty of the pandemic economy this will be encouraging for boutique firms, as according to the researchers, “historically smaller employers might have been seen as riskier by potential hires, but this appears less of a consideration now.”

How do consultants find a new job?

As with many industries, who you know is often as important as what you know – and the main route by which all management consultants look for work is their own network – something which is especially true of the most experienced consultants, 73% of whom cited it as one of their main channels. Direct applications to employers via jobsites and LinkedIn were also found to be key channels, especially by active job seekers, as they allow for far-reaching searches and rapid applications. Meanwhile, though many still believe in the importance of direct employer/candidate recruitment, consultants also look to recruitment agencies as a key part of their job search strategy.

Main channels used for job search

Notably, many consultants view applications via employers’ own websites as one of the less popular routes – perhaps because they are rarely “user friendly,” compared with the ease of other jobsites, or do not present them with an ‘in’ at the firm, as yielded by networking via LinkedIn. Of the reasons they did not favour employer websites, respondents said the need to replicate information that was already on the CV was one of the most frustrating – as well as the uncertainty regarding whether the job on the website is actually live.