Q3 2009 State of the Industry Report

Senior Executive Recruitment Begins Recovery

Top Managers in Greater Demand as Organizations Look to the Future

Third quarter data released by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) indicates a rise in senior executive search mandates during July to September 2009 compared to the second quarter of this year. While annual trends continue to reveal far lower levels of search activity in 2009 than in 2008, the short term picture shows clear signs of recovery.

Search industry revenues rose 10.5 per cent in the three month period from July to September 2009 against the previous three months, as did the number of search assignments (+11%), and the revenue per consultant (+12%). There was a small quarterly increase (+1%) in the number of consultants employed by search firms on a global basis, suggesting an end to the downsizing witnessed since October 2008.

As anticipated, large year-on-year declines are still prevalent across all regions and sectors with revenues dropping as much as 34 per cent from quarter three 2008 to the third quarter of 2009. However, annual declines in quarter three this year are less severe than those felt in quarter two, and results show consistent improvements from July to September 2009 over quarter two data.

Quarterly sector strength saw technology with the most significant rise of 25.1 per cent from quarter two to quarter three 2009, followed by financial (+13%), and then consumer (+12%).

“These results are an encouraging confirmation that the worldwide search profession has reached a tipping point in its fortunes and that the need for executive talent is again becoming a priority for many organizations,” commented Peter Felix, President of the AESC.

On a regional basis, Asia Pacific saw the greatest strength in third quarter search activity, increasing 32 per cent over the second quarter of 2009 and dropping only 2.4 per cent annually from quarter three 2008. Europe experienced the second greatest quarterly rise in worldwide executive search activity (+11%), followed by Central/South America (+6%), and lastly North America (+2.4%).

Felix continued, “There is clear evidence of the startling energy being created by the emerging economies as the world extracts itself from recession. There is still a long way to go before the search industry reaches its all-time revenue highs of 2008, but there are now strong indications that we are on the road to recovery.”

The AESC State of the Executive Search Industry Report is quarterly research carried out by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) since 2004 on trends in the global retained executive search industry. Data for the report is collected from a consistent sample of AESC member search firms representing the activity of over 1500 executive search consultants in 46 countries worldwide. Data does not account for annual inflation. AESC access to retained executive search data positions this report as a leading indicator of the future worldwide management employment market and a barometer of hiring trends for top-level and seldom advertised positions in key market sectors.

Read the full report.


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