Demand for executives slows
Career Executive-level job seekers beware: Companies in the US are putting the brakes on hiring -- so much so that executive recruiters' perpetually sunny outlook for the market is waning, according to ExecuNet's Recruiter Confidence Index.
"Over the last three to four years, we've seen double-digit growth in executive hiring," says ExecuNet President Mark Anderson. "Last year, we saw 18 per cent growth. This year, we're projecting executive hiring is going to be half that. That's a significant change. It's still growth, but it's much slower."
Less than 50 per cent of executive recruiters surveyed in January by the career and business networking organization reported optimism about the executive hiring market. Asked if they thought the market will improve in the next six months, 47 per cent were confident or very confident, down from 59 per cent in December 2007. Simultaneously, there was a spike in pessimism; 14 per cent of executive recruiters said they were not confident, up from 2 per cent in January 2007. Respondents were asked to evaluate their level of confidence on a scale: very confident, confident, somewhat confident or not confident.
"That's a significant drop" says Anderson. "People are not moving to feeling 'somewhat confident.' They're moving to 'not confident.'"
Executive hiring is driven by two factors: turnover and corporate growth. Executive turnover was high last year and is expected to remain so into 2008, according to Liberum Research. Putting a damper on that growth is the economic slowdown. Companies aren't growing as quickly and that's reducing demand for new executives, says Anderson.
Chuck Pappalardo, managing director of Trilogy Search Non+Profit, thinks 2008 will be a tougher year for executive search firms. However, he doesn't believe it will be as bad as 2002 and 2003. "We're getting a slower start during the first couple of months of the year than we normally would," he says. "Companies are waiting to see what happens with the economy before starting searches."
The slowdown in executive hiring means that candidates will have to execute better on their searches, according to Anderson. Job seekers will have to rely more on networking to uncover opportunities since fewer jobs are available and therefore posted online, he says. They'll also have to better target their search efforts around growth industries, such as health care, and less on those that are contracting, such as banking, real estate and construction. Says Anderson, "Look for where the opportunity is."
ExecuNet's monthly Recruiter Confidence Index survey is conducted online and circulated to executive recruiters via e-mail at both small and large retained and contingency search firms. A total of 238 search professionals responded to the survey in January 2008.
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