2011 Executive Job Market Outlook

by Meg Guiseppi on May 5, 2011

According to ExecuNet’s annual Executive Job Market Intelligence Report, business growth should continue through 2011 and executive recruiters are expecting double-digit growth, compared to the double-digit drop most of them experienced during the economic downturn.

Significant pockets of opportunity are opening, particularly in these industries:

  • Healthcare
  • High Technology
  • Clean/Green Technology
  • Life Sciences (Pharma/Medical/Biotech)
  • Manufacturing
  • Financial Services/Banking/Insurance
  • Energy/Utilities
  • Business Services
  • Internet/Online Services
  • Consumer Products

A total of 3,199 participants were surveyed for the report:

  • 2,028 executives from North America,
  • 462 executives from outside North America,
  • 563 executive search firm consultants, and corporate human resource and talent acquisition leaders, and
  • 146 executive search firm consultants from a companion global survey.

Findings indicate that networking is still (by far) the best way to open doors to new opportunities, as shown in their breakdown of where recruiters find executive candidates:

  • 46% – networking
  • 23% – the firm’s database
  • 11% – research
  • 10% – searching resume databases
  • 8% – online job postings
  • 2% – advertising

“Companies report that 92 percent of their jobs with salaries at or above $200,000 per year are not posted publicly online. This trend continues to increase as companies become overwhelmed by response to advertised positions because what is published on their websites is re-published by an increasing number of job ad aggregators.”

According to the report, employers’ most sought-after executive characteristics today are:

  1. Ability to build and lead high performance teams
  2. Industry-specific experience
  3. Leadership skills
  4. Strategy and execution leadership
  5. Change agent

Whereas, recruiters’ hardest-to-find characteristics in executives stack up like this:

  1. Industry-specific experience
  2. Ability to build and lead high performance teams
  3. Strategy and execution leadership
  4. Leadership skills
  5. Functional/technical expertise

Mark Anderson, ExecuNet’s President and Chief Economist, explained the implications:

“If you are changing industries or functions and want to be a change agent, the clear message is ‘go direct to hiring companies’ and demonstrate your ability to build, mold, and motivate strong, high-performing teams.”

The report ends with the caution that an unplanned, unguided job search may lead to roadblocks and dead ends. Understanding how to chart the right course is critical.

“What’s most important for you to remember is that a solid business network and your work to proactively build it and cultivate relationships through it can put you on the road to opportunity.”

Related posts:

How to Build a Powerful Executive Network

Executive Job Search: Research Your Target Employers

How To Tap Into Hidden C-level Executive Jobs

Build Winning Relationships with Executive Recruiters

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meg Guiseppi May 6, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Robyn, I always look forward to (and learn something important from) ExecuNet’s annual report. Thanks so much for the added tidbit! This echoes what I so often hear from prospective clients — “My resume doesn’t brand me and express what I can truly do. I know it’s holding me back.”


2 Robyn Greenspan May 6, 2011 at 11:58 am


Thanks for publishing some of the executive trend information from ExecuNet’s 19th annual research report. Here’s something we haven’t released yet that you will find interesting: Just 53% of the surveyed executives reported their resume presents their brand value well — DOWN from 58% last year.

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