Executive searches fall by a 35%

Worldwide executive searches fell 35% in the first quarter of 2009 against the same period a year ago, according to the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).

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Average net revenues were also down 38% for the same period, AESC’s ‘Q1 2009 State of the Executive Search Industry’ report revealed.

Senior executive recruiting, an estimated $11bn (£7.2bn) industry before the downturn, experienced record profits by the end of 2008 following five consecutive years of exceptional growth.

The latest data represents the first quarter where significant declines were felt across every region and industry, proving that executive recruitment has been affected by a large and fast recession.

AESC president Peter Felix says: “The figures for the last quarter underline the severity of the impact that the global recession has had on organisations and businesses around the world. No region, industry or function has been unaffected.

“Top management have been caught in the headlights of overwhelming uncertainty and have acted more to protect assets and reduce costs than to plan for the future. It is no surprise that the worldwide executive search profession has been affected.”

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Executive searches in the financial services industry suffered the hardest blow with a 41% yearly drop in the first quarter of 2009. The industrial sector, which holds the largest industry market share, fell 27% year-on-year.

Senior executive searches in the life sciences/healthcare sector showed the least decline in Q1 2009, down 21% from Q1 2008.

Sam Newell, director at executive search firm Mindpool Consulting, told Recruiter he wasn’t surprised at the drop in the number of searches.

“It doesn’t surprise me one bit. I still have searches that are ongoing from Christmas. From the fourth quarter last year I could see clients struggling to find the finances for top hires.

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