Have you noticed that the movement of consultants from one firm to another has drastically slowed?

What’s the reason behind this?

Is it because of the slow economy, healthcare reform or is it because of the consolidation among the major players in that space?  And more important, who benefits the most-the consultants or the consulting firms?

I wrote a blog post about this subject two years ago and reflecting on my thoughts back then, here are my thoughts today.

First, let me digress in terms of who will benefit the most:

Well obviously, consulting firms will benefit significantly in cost savings from a retention perspective; this includes placement fees, on-boarding and employee training. Also stability and continuity among the ranks can lead to a cohesive bond between management and staff. In addition, the loss of valuable consultants to competitors is no longer a threat in lower/delayed productivity for consulting firms. As a result, fewer firms are short-staffed, which is good because less stress is always desirable in a high stressed occupation.

But, with all these great things taking place, why aren’t folks in the trenches jumping up and down with excitement about the roles they are currently performing as consultants? 

Based on conversations with many, the perception is not the reality.  In this case most consultants have become complacent in their roles while others are just down-right bored because of limited career advancement opportunities. Unlike their unemployed counterparts, most are just circling the proverbial drain of redundancy, waiting for the next “game changer” to free them from the “matrix”.  Exciting things are no longer happening; it’s the same old day-to-day grind that is sucking the life out of ingenuity, creativity and the expectations of an exciting career that has attracted many to this space.

Lack of movements among consulting firms is the main cause-it has made the consulting environment very stagnant. The environment is now like a swimming pool without a filtration system. Without movement, the water cannot cleanse itself. And without a natural filtration system the PH balance will deteriorate as algae begins to multiply and choke off the life producing agents in the water.

What I’m trying to say is that because of limited movements within the consulting space, the balance of nature (careers) has tilted.  For example a group of animals living in the wild without any known predators will see an increase in the size of that group. As the size increase, the resources to sustain life will start to diminish at an increasing rate. Starvation and intense competition for that limited resource will by default decrease the size of the group, thus bringing equilibrium back in balance.  In a modern society, it is better to strategically manage the critical balance than to allow it to go unchecked. If unchecked, it’s only a matter of time before it collapses under its own weight. That’s what I am afraid might be the future of the Industry; the younger talent will leave this space to seek opportunities in the ACO, Provider or the Exchange side of the table.

What does this mean as it applies to the consulting space?

Consulting firms have become intellectually committed to a hypocritical business model; one of not employing the same best practice strategies internally as they are advising their own clients. One in particular is “employees are your greatest asset”

What does a consultant need to do to bring back that warm and fuzzy feeling that they once enjoyed as a profession?

They need to take responsibility for their own careers-the time is NOW to make a move!

Ok, headhunters are no longer calling you with the perfect job opportunity, so why should you even think about making a move?

Let me explain!

Let’s say that you have developed a unique skill-set working for one particular organization; with that new skill-set it is essential for your own career development to leverage that skill-set with a different employer. Moving to another employer acts like the filtration system in a swimming pool; it’s a mental stimulus that motivates the consultant to stay on top of his/her game, just like an athlete in professional sports. When you can successfully implement that unique skill-set in a new environment, you now own that skill-set. Owning a unique skill-set builds inner confidence, creates visibility of your brand and increase your value in the market.

Don’t wait for the headhunters to call you, start leveraging the new social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Talent communities!

Now is also the best time for consulting firms to differentiate themselves by aggressively recruiting the top consultants, but do not attempt to do this on your own-that is precisely the reason why we are where we are today. Instead, leave it to the headhunters to restore the balance of nature.