How long do executive searches take? How many get completed? How many candidates interviewed?

    Survey of 50 of the Fortune 500 companies reveals how long executive searches take, the average number of candidates interviewed,  how many of them actually get completed, and what percentage of those candidates are female or minority.

    As executive search consultants, we often get asked a series of questions by our client companies surrounding the executive search process.  Many of these questions are driven at gathering market intelligence around our executive recruiting.   The aim?  To create some third-party benchmarks to help companies understand whether a search has gone about average, better than average, or (gulp) "below the mean."  Keep in mind, these could be internally run searches done in the "DIY" fashion.  Or searches executed by in-house recruiting departments or human resources staff.

    Historically, there has been precious little data generated by third-party sources with enough statistical heft to garner much credibility.

    One of the sources that at least aims to collect good data is created by David Lord, who heads the Executive Search Information Services organization.  David is a veteran observer and analyst of the executive recruiting industry, and has run a roundtable of senior talent executives from Fortune 500 companies for the last 20 years or so.  For further information, see www.davidlord.com.  Some of the data that ESIS collects is via an annual survey of those senior human resources executives who participate in these roundtables.

    For our clients, we often reference ESIS data when made available.  At our request, below is a data table we created from some of the information ESIS kindly provided that shows some longitudinal data over the last 4  years, 2006, 2008, and 2009.

    Trends worthy of note?

    Search completion times have come down by almost a month from near 5 months down to 3.5 months.  Good news for all, the company, the candidates, and the search firm.   It will be interesting to see if this flattens out, or jumps back up for 2010 due to tightening talent pool on the supply side as the economy began to pick back up this year.

    Number of candidates interviewed per hire dropped from 6.5 to ~5.  This could be an indication of a company's increasing confidence in what they're looking for, or an indication of sense of urgency around key hiring to help companies as they struggled through a very tough 2009.

    Female and minority hiring at the executive level has improved, but not as much as many would have thought. Women executives were hired 29% of the time in 2009 versus 23% in 2006.  Compared to the workforce percentages of women to men, this is still inversely proportioned.  Minorities have seen a nominal increase of 1% more hired over  the last 5 years, which--when considering rounding errors-- is effectively no increase at all.

    Search completion rates have remained flat, with 4 out 5 searches engaged getting completed. Over the last 5 years,  search completion rates have hovered around 80%.  This is reported by corporations only, so subject to different numbers search firms might proffer.

    For deeper data, please contact ESIS.

    Additional footnotes worthy of note:

    1) For some reason, executive search firms specializing in the financial services sectors and related areas often calculate their "days to complete" numbers counting only business days, excluding weekends and bank holidays.  This can often make comparing normative data a bit more troublesome

    2) Days to completion numbers are calculated using the date of accepted offer of employment, not candidate start date/first day of work.  This is done because resignation periods vary widely and would undermine data integrity.

    team
    -by Clark Waterfall on Oct 27, 2010 12:29:39 PM

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