AESC Report Reveals Historic Growth in Executive Search & Leadership Consulting Services

A Rapidly Changing Business Environment, the Great Resignation & Drive for DEI Fuel Record Growth

The Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC), representing the leading executive search and leadership consulting firms worldwide, has released findings from their annual report State of the Executive Search and Leadership Consulting Profession.

The AESC report tracks growth within the profession and analyzes key trends driving client demand. Based on the findings, global revenues for executive search and leadership consulting services grew 42% in 2021 to a record $20bn USD. No other year, including those following right after the Great Recession, has had the same level of growth in the 30 years AESC has been tracking performance data for the profession.

Part of the heightened demand stems from the significant impacts and changes to the global business environment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which in turn influenced the Great Resignation. Many executives over the past two years chose to seek new opportunities amid burnout and a quest for stronger meaning in their work lives, while others embarked on new ventures, or left the workforce altogether. This increase in candidate mobility has led to enormous competition for top talent and an elevated focus on culture as organizations try to retain their top performers.

But the greatest driver the report uncovers is a mass societal shift, a complex time of intense change, while accelerated by COVID-19, was already brewing before the global outbreak. A powerful convergence of digital transformation, the drive for diversity equity and inclusion, and a new focus on ESG, combined with both a societal and organizational restructuring following the pandemic, means organizations are focused on driving change.

As organizations seek agile leaders who can constantly adapt and foster innovation for a new era of business, they are investing more in leaders, teams and culture. Increasingly they are turning to executive search and leadership consulting firms to help provide the competitive edge they need for a post-COVID business climate.>

The full report is available for download on AESC.org. A more extensive report with additional insights for executive search firms is available to AESC members only.

The report insights include:

  • Year-over-year growth for executive search and leadership consulting.
  • Top 10 issues organizations are discussing with search firms.
  • An economic outlook based on indicators from within the profession.

Contact Joe Chappell at jchappell@aesc.org for AESC commentary.


About the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC)

Since 1959, AESC has set the quality standard for the executive search and leadership advisory profession. AESC Members represent 16,000+ trusted professionals in 1,200+ offices, spanning 70+ countries. AESC Members are recognized leaders of global executive search and leadership advisory solutions. They leverage their access and expertise to place more than 100,000 executives each year in board of directors and C-level positions for the world’s leading organizations of all types and sizes. Dedicated to strengthening leadership worldwide, AESC and its members share a deep commitment to the highest quality standards in executive search and leadership consulting—for the benefit of clients and the profession. We Shape. Connect. Educate. Learn more about us at aesc.org. For AESC’s BlueSteps career service, connecting executive-level candidates with the world’s leading executive search firms, visit bluesteps.com.