Will Consultants Get Hired in a Recession?

Consultant, it’s R-word time again. Every few years, we hear chatter about an impending recession, layoffs, turmoil and general doom.

The question on most consultants’ minds is this:

Will organizations continue to hire consultants like they used to?

Here’s the truth:

When the economy takes a hit (or is about to), it’s easy to freeze up by reading mainstream news and opinions of others on social media who say, “No one’s hiring consultants anymore!” It’s natural for human beings to feel threatened.

However, it’s important to realize that in bad times, not every organization does badly. Sure, some are badly affected but there are others who thrive while some others are simply not affected at all. 

During the recession of the 1970s, McDonalds grew exceptionally fast and added more stores than most of its competitors. Why? One of the reasons was that in a sagging economy, people tend to save money. So fast food is a category that becomes popular in hard times. 

During the Great Recession in 2008, Netflix added millions of subscribers and began dominating Blockbuster. Primarily because it had a cheaper and more efficient model: DVDs by mail. 

During hard times, cheaper and more efficient alternatives to mainstream products and services tend to do well. There are other categories that do well, too. We simply have to think thoroughly about opportunities. 

Also, some categories like healthcare and pharmaceuticals are rarely affected during bad times. 

Even if some industries are badly affected, it’s not as if they shun consultants completely. 

It’s important to remember that whenever there are problems, organizations are going to consider hiring specialists, experts or consultants. 

During an economic crisis, they likely will be a bit more picky on who they hire, but they will do so if they think there’s value in bringing in a consultant. 

Now, in order for consultants to create value for organizations during crises, it’s important for us to understand the new lay of the land and how things are changing for organizations we wish to help. 

So a key action you must take is to start speaking with your constituents – former clients, existing clients, prospective clients you may know of and others with knowledge of your market. 

Frame your conversations with your constituents by asking them three key questions: 

❓ What are your organization/department’s immediate priorities (30 to 90 days)?
❓ What is your criteria for making key decisions? 
❓ What are key inefficiencies they’re grappling with currently? 

Finally, remember this: As a business consultant, you are not a mass marketer; you don’t need a large volume of clients. A handful of clients is all you need. Sometimes, just one or two clients are all you need in the short term. 

So, please don’t be alarmed. Change is opportunity. If you look closely with a clear head, you will find plenty of opportunities. Recession or not.

Ready to add $100k-$500k revenue to your consulting business in 12 months or less without burning out? Schedule a call and let me show you how.

Image credit: Ajay Mohanty