When the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC) released its “2014 BlueSteps Global Executive Outlook” report last year, the organization predicted a great year for management-level and executive leadership professionals: 51 percent of senior executives worldwide were optimistic about the global executive job market, a 15 percent rise from 2013.
According to Julia Salem, senior marketing manager at AESC, 2014 played out the way the report predicted it would. Global revenue for the executive search and leadership consulting industry grew by 10.7 percent last year, and the industry saw a 2.5 percent increase in “the volume of new executive searches.” Both the executive search and leadership consulting industry and management-level/executive leadership professionals benefitted from this growth.
What’s more, however, is that the “2015 AESC BlueSteps Job Outlook Report” predicts 2015 will be even better: this year, 72.4 percent of management-level professionals feel optimistic about their career opportunities, a jump of 21. 4 percent from last year’s numbers.
“We based this [report] on our executive search and leadership consulting industry data,” Salem says. “Using the data [from 2014] and projecting into the next year based on what our firms are saying, we’re really seeing an upward trend. We expect that, if 2014 was a historically high year, 2015 will be even more so.”
Firms Are Beginning to Invest in Talent Again …
Salem partially attributes the uptick in optimism to the worldwide economy’s continued recovery from the Great Recession. Companies experienced a lot of cutbacks during the recession, but now they’re becoming more confident and opening their hiring pipelines in order to “start investing more in talent.”
“[Companies] realize the cutbacks have been holding them back,” Salem says. “If they’re going to increase the bottom line, they’re going to need to start hiring talent. Talent is the most important asset to companies.”
… But That Doesn’t Mean Everyone’s Getting a New Job
Management-level and senior leadership professionals believe 2015 will be a landmark year, with respect to their career opportunities, but, as Sally Stetson of AESC member firm Salveson Stetson Group notes in a press release from the AESC, the fact remains that landing a high-level leadership role is never a breeze: “There should be a higher number of executive openings in 2015 and as a result, there will be more options for executives in the marketplace. With that said, it doesn’t mean that it is easier to find that ‘right’ position. There is a high level of competition for these roles.”
“Most in-transition executives realize that it’s not easy to find a job,” Salem says. “Even though executive searches are at an all-time high and executives are optimistic, they need to keep in mind that certain skills and roles are more in-demand than others.”
According to the AESC report, some of the industries in which both management-level professionals and executive search consultants expect to see high volumes of growth include:
- health care/life sciences
- and financial services.
Executive search consultants also expect to see growth in the industrial and nonprofit/education sectors, though not as many management-level professionals agree with this assessment.
Whatever the case, the fact remains that some industries are demanding more talent than others, and management-level professionals need to keep this in mind when making decisions about their careers this year.
“There might be a lot of top-level positions opening up, but that doesn’t mean that every single management-level professional needs to go out and look for a new job now,” Salem says. “They need to focus on expanding their skills, making sure they have the in-demand skills and can actually be competitive before [starting a search for a new role].”
Is It Time for You to Think About Transitioning?
Almost everyone is optimistic; it’s going to be a landmark year — but should you, as a management-level professional, begin looking at new career opportunities? Are you in the right sectors? Do you have the right skills?
Whatever your particular situation may be, Salem suggests that management-level professionals not get too hasty: they should keep themselves open to the idea of transitioning, but they shouldn’t hop on any old opportunity that comes along.
“If the right opportunity presents itself, [then think about making a career move],” Salem says. “Executives should stay alert and position themselves as top candidates for the roles they are interested in — especially if they are in industries [or roles] that are in high-demand.”
We covered some of the high-demand industries above, but high-demand roles include:
- CSOs (chief sales directors)
- and CISOs (chief information security officers).
Most notable of all the in-demand roles, according to Salem, is the role of CISO. This, she says, is an area of high demand, but very low supply. According to AESC’s report, “executive search consultant respondents noted that they expect to see a sharp increase in cyber security-related officer positions this year.”
Overall, Salem says, “it’s definitely a good time to look and put yourself out there” if you’re a management-level professional.
“Continue to network and publish thought leadership, and then opportunities will come your way if you’re presenting yourself as the right candidate for searches that are being done,” Salem says.