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Newsletter "We'll be OK"

The View From The Inside: 2009 – A Year To Forget?

Peter Felix, President of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), reviews executive search in 2009 and the industry’s hopes for the future.

The Queen of England described 1992, a year that saw the marriages of three of her children fall apart and Windsor Castle almost burn down, as an “Annus Horribilis” and “not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.” For different reasons we may feel the same about 2009!

Severe though the downturn in executive search has been, the AESC’s statistics show that this low point was still some degree higher than the industry low point in 2003, during the previous recession.

As we know, all things pass, and I am optimistic for the worldwide profession. The quality search firms have survived this difficult time, and there is now a growing indication of demand as organizations begin competing again for that very critical and scarce resource – executive talent. Demographics and emerging market demand will fuel another surge of recruiting as organizational redesign and strategic planning set the parameters for the talent structures of the future. We may be facing another perfect wave of demand for top executives within the next several years.

But there is no reason for complacency - senior executive candidates must ensure that their career management plans are always evolving, even if they are not currently looking for a new opportunity. A lively and active network, participation in industry events and conferences, and relationships with select executive search consultants will ensure that an executive is seen as a leader in their field, and allow them to keep up to date on developments within the executive arena.

I believe 2010 will offer better times for the retained executive search industry, and more opportunities for those that are best prepared to take advantage of this upturn. I wish you the very best for a happy and successful new year!


Peter Felix is the President of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC). The AESC represents the best in retained executive search consulting worldwide.