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Battle Tactics for Retaining Top Talent: How Professional Services Firms Rely on Cost-Effective HR Tech

  • Human Resources
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 02/01/2019

How Professional Services Firms Rely on Cost-Effective HR Tech
Professional services companies face a widening gap in the struggle to retain top talent, but those that are able to successfully attract top performers have some of the highest profit margins across all sectors of the economy Learn how your business can join them.

Table of Contents

Law offices, accounting firms, creative agencies and other employers in the professional services industry have one thing in common, talent in their fields is in short supply.

Professional services companies are in the business of recruiting the best and brightest people — lawyers, accountants, consulting engineers, architects, etc. — and selling their knowledge by the hour. They now face a widening gap in the struggle to retain top talent. Losing out keeps many professional services firms from ever achieving their full potential – more profits, and a top reputation in their industry.

Small to medium-sized businesses face the added challenge of competing with bigger businesses that can capitalize on their size.

But when professional services firms are able to successfully attract top performers, they have some of the highest profit margins across all sectors of the economy.

The winners in the talent battle enjoy a massive competitive advantage. How do they do it?­

A Paychex survey of hundreds of HR specialists in the professional services industry reveals that the most successful firms rely on up-to-date HR technology, and offer a mix of competitive and creative benefits.

These firms not only use HR technology for basics like payroll and time tracking, but also for strategic recruiting, employee engagement, and benefits administration.

Around three-quarters of the most successful companies across industries automate recruiting and screening as well. And they’re also 50 percent more likely than their peers to use technology to craft profiles that help them find the most promising job candidates.

The money spent to streamline the hunt for the best candidates is a strategic investment that can help keep talent management cost-effective while yielding a high return.

For small to medium-sized firms in professional services, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the talent shortage. But our Spotlight, “Finders Keepers: How Up-to-Date HR Tech Helps Win the Battle for Talent,” shows how the right technology is critical to your success in finding — and keeping — top talent.

How an Applicant Tracking System Can Assist in the Talent Battle

Many of the top professional services firms utilize an applicant tracking system to help them recruit, evaluate, and hire.

An applicant tracking system can help:

  • Improve communication with applicants and hiring managers throughout the process.
  • Standardize processes for job postings, interview scheduling, and hiring workflows.
  • Allow you to customize a scoring mechanism to bring top candidates to the surface.
  • Incorporate background screening into your hiring process to quickly narrow down your applicant pool.
  • Let applicants apply how and when they want. Applicant self-service means job seekers can apply anytime and anywhere with a mobile phone, Facebook® app, or from their desktop. Rather than call you about the status of their application, they can simply log in to the system.

Expand Your Recruiting Reach, Inside and Out

One of the biggest mistakes an organization can make is not making use of its own internal resources when recruiting.

When internal candidates are overlooked for promotions – or even lateral jobs where they can develop new skills – they may quickly grow resentful and disengaged.

Here are some ideas for recruiting that can help engage your current workforce, and assist with retention.

  • Use social media as a recruiting tool. Promote open positions on your social media channels. Customers and followers in your local community are likely to be a good source of potential hires, and can potentially amplify your message by sharing your posts.
  • Use referral and boomerang hire programs. Former and existing employees can be a valuable resource in the search for new talent. Consider establishing referral programs that reward existing employees. Top firms also look to hire “boomerang employees,” former employees who return after gaining experience with other organizations. Current employees may wish to use their own social networks to share openings with their network.
  • Invest in developing your leadership. A leadership development program can help save you money in the long run by helping you offer specialized training, advancement opportunities, mentorship, and a clear growth path within the organization.

Build the Employer Brand

Creative recruitment can be as much about promoting your brand as it is about evaluating candidates for open positions. Many of today’s job seekers make decisions based on online research. They check your company's website, social media presence, and reviews from recent candidates. With this in mind, consider adopting the following tactics:

  • Broadcast your company’s values to help attract the most qualified people. Make these clear in your job ads and employer branding materials.
  • Create a career website, frequently updated with the latest jobs, that tell the story of what it's like to work at your company.
  • Post mobile-friendly content, such as a video, that shows the company's culture.
  • Develop ways to measure the return on investments in your employer brand, using metrics like time-to-fill and retention.

No process can have as much impact on the business success of small to medium- sized professional services firms as hiring. Your talent acquisition strategy should begin by acknowledging that there is a talent war, and positioning your company so it’s on the frontline.


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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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