BSG reported out on U.S. retained executive search statistics several years ago. There is precious little reliable information around questions our clients often ask us—How long does a typical retained search take? Or How many candidates should we expect to interview before we make our finalist selection?
Thankfully, the team at ESIX (www.esix.org), led by Simon Mullins and founded by David Lord, have been tracking some of this data over the last decade. And there are some interesting trends and insights that can be extrapolated. We’ve thrown 3 statistics into 2 different graphs, and then included the ESIX entire data table at the bottom for reference.
3 Key insights:
- Retained executive searches are at their longest in the last decade, reaching 134 calendar days in 2019
- Why? As unemployment rates have steadily declined since the 2008 financial crisis, finding qualified executives gets harder.
- Retained search completion rates are at an all-time low of 77%
- Why? Again, the tighter the talent market, the harder it is to woo talent away from one company and over to another. It’s virtually a zero sum game, where very little executive talent is “on the bench” or “on the beach.”
- The number of candidates interviewed before a winner is selected has been dropping, trending down over the last 4 years
- Why? Most likely explanation is that the pain of not having a high performing executive in a given role has increased as searches stretch longer to completion, and companies are being challenged to select a winner from a smaller pool or risk having no one in the position for more than a quarter of the year, and stretching between 4 and 6 months
- This survey data is from companies that are quite large (more than half of surveyed companies had more than 20,000 employees each)
- This data includes both 3rd party retained executive search firms, and in-house executive recruiting organization or “captive” search functions
107 organizations (94 last year)
81% respondents primarily focused on Executive Recruiting
17% leaders of talent acquisition/management or hybrid roles
38 companies with under 20K employees
41 companies with 20-80K employees
28 companies with over 80K employees
Source information: ESIX is the preeminent peer networking group for corporate executive recruiting professionals, founded over 20 years ago, with members connecting and learning at over 30 events each year. The ESIX Annual Benchmark Survey has grown to become the industry standard for measuring the corporate executive recruiting function.