5 job market trends and their effect on Executive Search

As the job market is in constant motion, so is executive search. Are you currently working with or thinking of working with an executive search partner? In this article, we outline 5 market trends that may affect your search process.

1. Candidate-driven market

In accordance with market trends in the larger economy, the job market is currently very favorable for job-seekers. The large number of vacancies across different industries creates a candidate-driven market. Candidates often have multiple offers to choose from. This effectively gives them the power to drive the hiring process – or string it along – according to their convenience. Recently, we at Batenborch International have noticed that this leads to quicker withdrawals and more offer rejections from candidates.

There are a few concrete measures that hiring companies can take to prevent last-minute backouts from candidates. One is to ensure quick feedback and communication loops with the candidate. As candidates have more leverage, hiring companies cannot draw processes out for a long time anymore. Candidates that are kept waiting for a decision from the hiring company for a long time will simply move to a different opportunity in the meantime. Therefore, if you are currently hiring or engaged in an executive search, it may be helpful to speed up your hiring process where possible. In today’s job market, candidates won’t wait around for you anymore.

2. The importance of cultural fit

Not only do candidates have more leverage in terms of time constraints, they are also able to make increasingly more demands from a company they are interviewing with. As INSEAD Knowledge has pointed out – and as we have pointed in our previous article – job interviews are no longer a one-way interrogation. The modern job interview is instead a two-way conversation, conducted to assess how the candidate can fit into the role. The importance of cultural fit in this conversation cannot be overstated.

Cultural fit can encompass anything from company values to management style, to the growth trajectory in a role and to the attitude surrounding remote work and flexible working hours. In 2023, many candidates value these elements in a potential job even more highly than a job title. One way to stand out from the crowd as a hiring company is to incorporate these conversations about cultural fit into your search and interviewing process early on. One example is to include the company’s attitude about cultural fit into the job description. This way, you signal to candidates that you value cultural fit just as much as they do.

3. Data-driven decision-makers

One thing we have noticed in recent searches is that companies increasingly look for leaders who can back up their decision-making with data. Concretely, this means that firms are looking for candidates who not only have the quality of decisiveness in their toolbox, but who also rely on data to make and substantiate these decisions.

This is not an easy profile to find. Yet, we find that across industries and sectors, management teams increasingly insist upon these qualities in candidates. Therefore, if you are currently hiring or will start a new hiring round in the future, dedicating resources to detecting and developing data-literate talent both within and outside of the company will prove a worthwhile investment.

In 2023, many candidates value elements of cultural fit more highly than a job title

4. Leaders as generalists

Similarly, we have observed that current leadership at companies highly values leaders who are generalists in their field. This could mean a sales manager with all-round sales experience in both relationship management and acquisition, medium and large corporate accounts, and cross-sector knowledge. Or a marketing manager with experience in branding, PR, lead generation, events, as well as digital marketing.

Leaders who specialize in one single aspect of sales or marketing, on the other hand, are more limited to managing roles within their own niche; for example, as digital marketing manager or head of new business sales. So while candidates sometimes fear that general experience as an all-rounder may make them less attractive to future employers, we have found that the opposite is often the case – generalists are highly sought after for top-level management positions.

5. Talent mapping

Increasingly, we see that decision makers like to use executive search as a tool for talent mapping. The goal of talent mapping is to create an overview of the current market: what skillsets do competitors’ employees have? What are they earning? And what development path do they have ahead of them within their organization? What are the gaps in competencies at our company, and where in the market can we best look for talent to fill those gaps?

Through being in constant contact with candidates and companies within the market, executive search firms are uniquely positioned to conduct talent mapping scans. This ability adds value to the search beyond just finding the right candidate for the role at the current moment, as talent mapping allows a company to proactively look beyond current needs in order to plan ahead for the needs of the future. In the current market, this is an especially valuable tool for finding rare talent from previously untapped sources.


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