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“The demand for qualified candidates has just exploded in the first half of 2021,” Allison Dwyer shares. “Optimism has returned in many sectors, and companies are looking ahead again.”
Allison works at the heart of the latest trends in hiring and recruitment at the Summit Search Group office in Toronto. As a partner with the firm, she lists professional services and executive search among her areas of specialization.
As the world turns toward recovery, Alllison has had a front-row seat as the workforce evolves and teams work to discover what’s next. We checked in with her to get a feel for the lay of the land –- and what to expect in the year ahead.
Hiring for Professional Services in 2021
Allison’s recruitment work in Professional Services covers specialized needs in a wide range of industries: law, accounting, technology, and engineering are just the beginning. Her specialty doesn’t just stop with building teams to fit existing needs, though. At Summit, the goal is always to add new value to your business with a great hire. In a short time, COVID-19 has deeply impacted just what that “value” means for her clients.
“Some industries have been in a consistent downturn over the past year, while others have thrived and even grown. COVID-19 has, in many ways, forced organizations to re-evaluate the types of talent and leadership profiles that they need to succeed,” Allison shares. “For example, it brought the issue of remote leadership to the forefront of the talent conversation. How do you engage, motivate and retain team members remotely? Can this person navigate that space? It has quickly become a priority in the executive search and professional services space, and I don’t expect to see that concern disappear anytime soon.”
She also cites the lasting impact of digital trends on how companies think about hiring and the process of recruitment. “At first, virtual hiring was viewed as not at all palatable. It’s certainly here with us for the long-term now! As companies work to connect with the right talent on the most comfortable terms, the virtual recruitment process has become less of a hindrance and more the norm.”
Driving Toward a Diverse Future in Professional Services
If there’s one area that’s changed the recruitment game in all industries and absolutely in Professional Services, it’s DE&I.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is used to describe the roles, programs, and company strategies to essentially make a workspace more welcoming and comfortable for everyone. Today’s talent seeks a workplace culture that they can fully embrace, and they demand better resources and superior support in the DE&I space. As a result, it’s seen a hiring boom that shows no sign of stopping.
“It’s definitely a continuing focus, and not just for large-scale corporate entities,” Allison says. “Candidates are assessing organizations based on their practices and commitment to DE&I every day. Culture is more important than ever. Small and mid-sized organizations are also increasingly recognizing the importance of formalizing a commitment and investment in diversity as a function, especially if it wasn’t already in place.”
The result? Of course, we’re hoping to see more comfortable, diverse, and inclusive workspaces. In the meantime, though, companies need the talented candidates to make those changes happen. “The increase in these specialized positions has just been exponential,” Allison adds.
Returning to Work with Renewed Confidence
Professional services is far from the only space making moves back to the office. As the country considers returning to work –– and just what that return should look like –– people are bringing a renewed confidence and motivation to move forward in their companies and personal careers.
“People were less inclined to move to new jobs, even if they were available, in 2020. The overall uncertainty caused by COVID-19 put a lot of things on pause. There was less churn in the 2020 recruitment market in a variety of sectors across the board, and many employers hired less just to get through an uncertain time.
The demand for qualified candidates is back, and hiring is busy. We’ve seen an explosion of activity in the first half of 2021. Candidates are more likely to consider new opportunities, there is an increased sense of optimism even as the virus variants are surging, and companies are hiring again. We’re planning for the future, and it no longer seems that far away.”
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Industry Insiders: Allison Dwyer on Recruitment in Professional Services and the Impact of COVID-19
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