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Is it a Good Time to Job Hunt? The Effects Caused by an Economic Downturn

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During the BlueSteps Connect event last year, a distinguished panel of leading search consultants provided an overview of how best to approach and build relationships with executive search firms, what these firms can offer you and how the search process works.

Panel members were:
  • Peter Felix, President of the AESC
  • Patrick Delhougne, Senior Client Partner, Korn/Ferry
  • Tom Daniels, Director, Spencer Stuart
  • Joanna Miller, Managing Director, Russell Reynolds
  • Stacy Musi, Managing Director, Chadick Ellis
Take a listen to the audio clip below and continue to read our analysis:

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The consensus amongst the panelists was that if the opportunity is right, senior executives should not let the recession stall their career. Stacy Musi opened the panel discussion and spoke for all the search consultants by stating, “It is always a good time”. However, Musi also commented on how the cautious atmosphere created by the recession has clearly played an impact.

BlueSteps Connect Panel Discussion, Stacy Musi from a Boutique executive search firm speaks

The globalised view that it is easy to travel and relocate anywhere is not as prevalent as it used to be, “More and more clients are reluctant to get involved with relocation” she commeted. Instead, the instability of the current economic climate has left both parties less willing to commit to moves that may expose them to vulnerability. For clients it may be their unwillingness to pay relocation costs, and the belief that there are far more suitable candidates available in close vicinity. At the same time, the executive involved in the relocation may be concerned about not being able to cover the costs of maintaining a new home if the job were to fall through.

This caution may be somewhat unwarranted as Musi firmly outlines, “There is no such thing as an untouchable” in the current climate. That is, turning down new opportunities because you feel there is no way you will lose your current job is a false sense of security. As Tom explained “You don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow”. No one is ever entirely protected from lay-offs, so refusing new opportunities could leave you stuck in a job that you are not progressing in, without providing the job security every executive craves in today’s economic climate. In addition, if the client does not take those extra steps to secure the best possible candidate, recovery will be achieved at a slower rate, if at all.

Clients Enjoying Greater Choice


Joanna Miller, MD of Russell Reynolds, highlights the darker side of the recession and its effect upon employment practices, “Clients are no longer as willing to sell the position to new candidates, such as negotiating compensation, because there are so many more suitable executives waiting by.” With the employment market saturated with job seekers, and the number of open positions limited, clients no longer feel the competitive edge. Miller suggests this attitude is prevalent in organizational attitudes towards current employees, “Current employers do not feel it necessary to sell to their own clients.” However, with the recession slowly lifting, these companies should be cautious as the ‘war for talent’ begins to re-assert itself. That is, the competitive market may lure top senior executives from their reduced compensation packages and development programs.

Moving back to the positive side of being open to executive job opportunities in the recession, Tom Daniels sees it as a “great time to get involved in restructuring… and wealth creation if you do the homework for the right opportunity”. From AIG to Citibank, Daniels believes this is a perfect time to learn more in a few years, than many have in their whole executive careers.

Many Job Opportunities Out There

Patrick Delhougne agrees that there are many job opportunities out there, even in this climate, but that executives must exercise caution before switching roles. Delhougne advises that executives think hard before making any decisions, “It is not the time to make an impulsive decision”. Although the recession has exaggerated the caution of taking a new position, Delhougne believes this should apply to any job search. Speaking from experience, he outlines that “Very often the grass isn’t always greener”. Instead of impulsive decisions, Delhougne advises executives to always take a long term view on any decision made, “Can you make an impact, is it the right culture?”

Overall, it is clear the recession has exaggerated problems with conducting a job search or taking a new position. However, these problems, such as client inability to maintain current talent or executives not properly assessing new opportunities, had their roots long before the financial tsunami hit. Let’s hope the hiring clients and senior executives learn from the recession and their mistakes before it is too late.

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BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 6,000 executive search professionals in over 70 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 50,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more.


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