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Consultancy, strategy and change – market update August 2015

The first half of 2015 has seen a positive sentiment across the market, with an increase in the volume of permanent roles released across the sectors. This willingness and ability to increase headcount shows a growing confidence in the market. The election saw a small recruitment freeze across the public sector, but since then, hiring has continued apace across both permanent and interim markets.

Hot topic: diversity and inclusion

The hot topic of conversation within our market, sector wide, is the subject of diversity and inclusion. For many of our key clients, diversity and inclusion is central to their business success. This extends to best practice standards that can be applied to any business sector or size. This has been prevalent in hiring policies and is increasingly being implemented into day to day practices. Particularly relevant to the consultancy market, this is often part of the job specification of business process improvement consultant positions. 

Talent attraction and retention

In the first half of this year, the market has continued to be client-driven, with clients very much calling the shots around the specific skill sets required in their search for candidates joining their organisations. This can be a specific technical skill set or relevant sector knowledge.  There are signs in the market that this will change in the short to medium term as candidates are starting to receive multiple job offers.  There is also generally a shortage of candidates in the market so the scales are likely to tilt in the candidates’ favour.

Tips for employers looking to hire in the current market:

  • Be as open as possible in terms of the candidate pool in which you fish
  • Move quickly when making offers to candidates you see and like
  • If you are looking for more than one candidate, then agree an ongoing strategy with the recruitment agency in order to continue to receive the best candidates for your organisation


The growth sectors this year have been the public sector and the healthcare/pharmaceutical industries on both a temporary and permanent basis. This is a change from last year where there was a lot more activity in the retail/FMCG sector, which has only contributed 9% towards revenue in the first half of this year.
The average salary being recruited this year has been c£50,000 compared to last year when it was c£70,000. This is due to the level of role being recruited. Clients are looking to bring in more junior members of staff to help boost teams resulting in an increase in business analysts or project co-ordinators being recruited this year compared to last year. On the temporary side, there has been an increased demand for project managers. 

Candidate behaviour

There has been a slight increase in counter offers being extended to candidates leaving businesses in 2015. Advice often given to candidates who are resigning from their current position is to expect the counter offer. It’s important to challenge them early on in the process as to how they expect their boss to react when they resign. We also provide statistics to candidates to remind them then that 70% of candidates who accept counter offers will end up leaving at 12 months, due to the underlying reasons behind originally wanting to leave the business remaining the same.

Looking ahead

The opening weeks of H2 have seen a continuation of June’s emerging trends. After March and April proved noticeably slower compared to years gone by (something most likely explained by the presence of what we all seemingly thought would be a close-fought election), the summer months have seen the market rise to its year-to-date peak. 
On the interim side particularly, gone are the conversations that characterised the first quarter which saw our client base constantly look to permanent staff. More and more we are seeing a readiness (as well as the financial ability) for hiring managers to turn to interims in the first instance. This trend has proved to be particularly prevalent in the public sector, where we are seeing more and more expansive transformation programmes requiring interim project staff – something which would lead us to believe this is a trend which may well outlast the quarter.
More broadly speaking, there seems to be some early indication that the senior end of the market could yet become increasingly active as we enter the third quarter. As referred to above, whilst H1 saw a glut of middle management positions open up across the market, already in the first few weeks of H2 we are seeing, and hearing of, more senior posts emerging, with some of our key financial services clients recruiting heavily at the senior end of their flagship transformation programmes. While salaries around the £45,000-£55,000 mark made up our core market in the first half of the year, we are increasingly hearing more serious conversations which point towards a steady trickle of senior change and transformation roles emerging as we move towards 2016.
Are you looking to take the next step in your consultancy, strategy or change career? Are you looking to hire consultants or strategists? Or are you simply looking for some further advice on recruiting in the current market? Feel free to contact Kyra Cordrey, Director at Michael Page Consultancy, Strategy & Change for a confidential discussion.
T: +44 20 7269 2433