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Executive Hiring Stalled, or the Lull Before the Storm?

A just-completed survey of more than 600 executives indicates that although executive hiring is selectively increasing, those increases have stalled since September 2009 and further growth in hiring is not predicted to be strong until 2011 and beyond for almost half the organizations.

The timeframe for the reemergence of executive hiring continues to lengthen with each respective survey conducted in this series. The increases in executive hiring currently are largely in consulting and professional services, wealth management, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals, and investment management, according to the survey participants.

The executive job market is improved in terms of volume, but seems to be selective not only in terms of the roles being filled, but the demanding qualifications for each of those positions. This is not surprising in terms of hiring firms using their leverage to find the exact fit they seek, but also having less generous offers to attract top quality candidates, with so many seeking a position. Therefore, there is a quandary in filling these executive positions, as hiring managers want the best and most exacting fit without providing the rewards to entice the very best talent and fit to make a move if they are currently employed. Those hiring organizations need to strengthen the quality of their offers to attract the top talent that is employed — and about 90% of the top talent is still employed.

About 70% of employed executives are open to exploring new opportunities, with about one quarter actively seeking new opportunities, according to the survey participants. Employed executives view the scope of a new opportunity, growth opportunity, and compensation as their most important factors in selecting a new position, while unemployed executives were less concerned about compensation levels but more interested in the hiring organization and manager in their new job selection.

While many organizations have reduced their use of executive search firms to find top executive talent with so many executives available and few executive searches occurring, there is still a need to have recruiters deal personally with executives to best attract and complete a hire. With all the talk about social networking, candidate relationship management systems, career sites, and online presence, top executive candidates still prefer having human connections via employees, internal, and external recruiters. Executives strongly prefer being referred by an employee or contacted by a retained executive search firm or internal company recruiter to putting a resume on a job board or submitting a resume to a company career site.

While most executives find the various aspects of their most recruitment process to be acceptable, the aspects that least met their expectations were the overall timeframe to make a decision, interview feedback timeliness, and quality. These aspects are certainly able to be improved by hiring organizations.

For hiring organizations, this continues to be an opportunistic time for hiring top talent to upgrade and gain a competitive talent edge. Forward-thinking organizations are building their executive talent pipeline via employee referrals and working with quality executive recruiters.

About the survey: A survey link was sent to our LinkedIn connections and groups as well as directly emailed to almost 10,000 executives in the Claymore Partners’ database. Six hundred sixty two participated in the online survey conducted from January 26th to February 1st, 2010, for a 7% participation rate. The survey respondents were largely executives over age 40 with annual incomes of over $100,000. There was broad job function and industry representation, with a concentration in the financial services and consulting arenas.

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