December 15, 2020

Trends in the Executive Search Industry

We talk a lot about nonprofits on our blog—what can we say, we are experts in the field! However, nonprofit infrastructure and trends are not the only subject on which we are knowledgeable.

Today, we’re taking a look at trends in the broader executive search industry, as well which ones we are watching here at Peña Search.

Executive Search at a Glance

For the purposes of this blog post, we’re defining “executive search” as a service that provides specialized recruitment for executive or C-level positions in both the public and private sectors. The “executive search industry” services all such companies in the United States.

Globally, the executive search industry generates around $14 billion each year, with around half of the total amount generated in the United States. An estimated 6,000 search(??) firms are currently in operation in the US, though the 50 largest firms account for a large portion of the market share.

Trends in the Industry

In its Executive Search Trends Report for 2020, Invenias assessed 400 professionals’ outlook on the present and future of the industry. Many agreed that revenue would be stronger than ever, though this thinking has adjusted with the unique challenges presented in 2020.

Opinions were more mixed among respondents when asked about the top priorities of the industry. The top 5 were candidate acquisition (39%), client relationship management (39%), digital transformation (25%), employer branding (25%) and expanding into new markets (24%). These responses reflected an interesting pattern, given that two of them (digital transformation and employer branding) had less to do with the search itself and more to do with keeping current with marketing trends.

In addition to the top five priorities mentioned above, what can we expect from the executive search industry in the next five years? Here are three trends we will be watching.

Desire for Diversity

It’s so much more than a buzzword—diversity is a critical goal to all levels of recruitment: clients, recruiters and placements.

While diversity has always been a top priority for Peña Search, we affirm our commitment to working with and for clients of all cultural and social backgrounds. In the coming years, expect the industry as a whole to adopt new practices. Each step of a company’s processes will include more voices and represent more diverse communities.

Digital is King

While online marketing and other digital technologies have been commonplace in some industry for years, we are now starting to see many different types of organization embrace new practices. Search firms are now be expected to keep up with trends in social media and digital marketing.

What will that look like? Expect expanded online resources such as newsletters, blogs and placement listings. Additionally, potential clients will expect some sort of presence on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. Social media pages must be a resource for both clients and placements and should be given as much internal attention as a website.

More is More

As the job market continues to become more demanding, so will the needs of those hiring. Clients will begin to expect even more from their search firms, according to Charles-Henri Dumon, CEO of French firm Morgan Philips Group. “Organizations want evidence-based insights of a candidate’s suitability to the role – and to the company’s culture,” he said on the company’s blog. “Search firms that offer a range of services will stand out in the market – from psychometric assessment tools through to coaching, development and outplacement services, to succession planning and talent consulting.”

Where can firms start to offer more? Personality assessments such as StrengthFinders and the Enneagram are great places to start. Familiarizing companies with the tests and administering them to key staff can help encourage enthusiasm around what is sometimes considered to be a hokey practice. Once staff is on board, the tests will become great resources to both offer clients and inform placements.