Executive Search trends for 2023

Executive Search trends for 2023

20. Dezember 2022

By Stephan Breitfeld 

If you ask me to characterize 2022 with just one word, I’ll go with “extreme”. And perhaps “uncertain”. Aftermath of the pandemic, rampant inflation, raging war – all of those are factors that are changing and influencing the business climate keeping the race for hiring senior talent remain extremely strong. Now, as another challenging year is coming to its end, let’s take a look at where current trends lay and what the important takeaways for the upcoming (hopefully less challenging or at least more certain) year are.

Retirement wave and post-pandemic supply shortage

Don’t want to sound cynical, but let’s face it: baby boomers are getting older. This, of course, has direct repercussions for the executive search, since the average age of pharma leaders is 58 (check out this study of CEOs at the Top 50 Biopharmaceutical Companies (2018), a quite interesting read). The retirement wave in MedTech, Pharma, and Biotech has heightened the demand for Director/VP level personnel to fill the gaps of senior retirees. So, keep your eyes open – new directors are needed, and they are coming!

Although the COVID pandemic has become rather history (well, at least in some places), its consequences are going to haunt us for years to come. The post-pandemic supply shortage is a real problem, and it should be dealt with respectfully. It is responsible for creating strong demand for transformation managers, whose value has grown significantly in the past year. You see, identifying an area of opportunity within a company and implementing processes to change its performance for the better – a very simple description of what a transformation manager does – is something of increased usefulness in turbulent times.

What else is in demand?

At this point, sales and marketing have taken the central stage. Together with more traditional business development and R&D sectors, they make the most demanded functions in MedTech, Pharma, and Biotech. But wait, it’s not that straight forward! It’s crucial that successful candidates demonstrate experience in transformation (see above). And keep in mind interim management – there is a higher demand for those positions currently, as executive search doesn’t always keep up with the changing trends and stormy business climate.

Sacrifice to be made…

Another interesting development is that HR teams are increasingly using Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) for middle management positions (external providers rejoice!). Hiring specialists for the analysis of a particular position’s requirements, the process of alerting qualified individuals to the opening of the position, the screening and selecting of qualified applicants, can at times be more efficient than relying purely on the in-house HR team.

Also, good news: we can see a substantial increase in middle management salaries! On the other hand, increasing amount of job seekers are willing to sacrifice part of their salary for more freedom and work-life balance. Does it have to do with the post-COVID sentiment, or with the idea that millennials and Gen Zs are less inclined to think in “classic” capitalist terms of financial success and hard work? Or maybe a bit of both…? Time will show.

What the future holds

And finally, please allow me to present the elephant in the room! Geopolitical conflict (aka an outdated way of dealing with disagreements, aka war) is raging in Europe, which had significant repercussions on pretty much every aspect of business environment. If economic and geopolitical circumstances do not improve in 2023, very high demand for people who do the groundwork (blue collar) is expected together with a restrained market for Management and C-level positions. Let us stay hopeful, for good always prevails.

In any case, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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