Disclaimer: This article and research are based solely on the senior executive job market, where salaries are between $200,000 and $2,000,000.
Full disclosure: despite all of the comments from Search Firm leadership confirming our analysis of continued growth in the senior executive job market, I still feared that “shelter-in-place” orders from numerous states (and the subsequent Wall Street reaction) would eventually cause a decline in the higher-level market. However, upon further reflection, I remain resolute that numbers don’t lie; senior executive job growth continues its acceleration.
As of this morning, our research team published a new Unadvertised Senior Executive Job Situation Report (USEJSR), which showed another 17% growth in senior executive-level positions in just the last two weeks. This new statistic raised the industry (for senior executive jobs) CAGR trajectory of 314%! I suspect this trajectory will soften a bit as we enter Q3 (at least in the first 2 months), as we (hopefully) begin to turn the corner on COVID-19. However, I speculate Q4 will be the largest in your industry’s history for new projects at this level.
When industries change or evolve, professional search engagement soars. Our research team saw a notably sharp uptick in Human Resources positions, likely due to the need for reliable and capable HR staff during a time of crisis, while many Education and Entertainment searches were paused due to COVID-19. Many of these suspended searches continue to accept applications, but many of them are not interviewing until after their State’s suspension is over.
That said, the highest growth industries were the Healthcare, Higher Education, and Supply Chain and Distribution sectors. While the reasons for the former are apparent, the latter is likely because this field includes shipping, delivery, and procurement companies, which are essential in this situation.
This is echoed by industry veteran Michael Mosunic, CEO or Wolf Hill Group who stated: “Cybersecurity is still growing as cybercriminals have an increased surface area with everyone working from home. Investors are being cautious, and are extending their cash runways in portfolios. The general consensus is that the industry will return aggressively when we have improving economic signals and the executive search industry will continue at a very healthy pace. In the interim, executive-level candidates are still open to opportunities as they are confident we will turn this corner and great opportunities lie ahead.”
This is incredible news for candidates, employers, and firms. It indicates that the economy is rapidly adapting in reaction to COVID-19. The overall trends are positive, and job growth, specifically tied to senior leadership roles shows no signs of slowing.
I have spoken with many firms, and this is the consensus: when the overall economy is booming, even an underperforming C-Suite executive looks like they are doing well. However, if they are not able to innovate when adversity strikes, their resilience and adaptability begin to show signs of weakness. Before long, it becomes apparent that it was the economy, not their performance that was driving their success.
My speculation is that in late Q3 and Q4 will be unlike anything we have ever seen in the senior executive job market. Once the quarantine and “shelter-in-place” orders begin to expire, the full extent of the economic damage will come to bear, and rebuilding will begin. It follows that executives who were incapable of taking proactive measures will be released and replaced.
If you are in the search industry, there is no better time to prospect. Make sure to take great care of your clients during this difficult time. If you do, they will remember you when the recovery happens and while your competitors are circling the wagons and waiting out the storm, you need to be in front of your clients and prospective clients. Don’t start your effort when the market moves, it will be too late. Everyone will be prospecting, which will only increase your competition, get out ahead of them.
The moral of this story for candidates? Innovate, innovate, innovate! Now is the time to become adaptable and resourceful. Show your Board the full extent of your abilities. I believe Q3 and Q4 will separate the wheat from the chaff, so prepare. Your future may very well depend on it.