Consulting and business-services giant Accenture is slashing 19,000 jobs globally.
Like many other consulting firms (including IBM), Accenture has traditionally been a huge hirer of tech talent. In mid-2022, for example, it posted more open positions for VR-related jobs than Apple and Meta, both of which are making very big, very public bets on virtual- and augmented-reality ecosystems.
Like Meta and other tech giants, Accenture (along with other consulting companies) hired enormous numbers of people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of people working from home spiked demand for e-commerce and cloud-based applications and services, driving companies to spin up projects quickly—and rather than go through a lengthy hiring process for full-time workers who could handle those projects (although they did that, too), many contracted teams of consultants who could get to work immediately.
But with widespread fears of a recession, many companies are pulling back on their strategic and hiring investments, slackening demand for consultants. According to CNN, Accenture is joined by rivals KPMG and McKinsey in cutting jobs over the next year or so.
For big tech companies, there are numerous advantages to hiring consultants. For starters, it can save costs: consultants don’t earn the same perks and benefits as regular employees, and in certain contexts they’re paid less. Onboarding and dismissing contractors are also relatively rapid processes, allowing companies to adjust team sizes in response to project priorities and market conditions. For those reasons (and more), it seems unlikely that companies will stop relying on consulting firms anytime soon—and as a result of that, Accenture and its ilk will probably start hiring again at some point.
Not all consultants work for the big consulting firms, of course. For tech professionals interested in working as independent consultants, the job has some distinct advantages, including flexibility, an enviable billing rate (provided you have the right mix of experience and skills), and a variety of clients doing interesting things. To become an independent consultant, however, you really need to show your value, which is why it’s often a job that professionals take later in their respective careers.