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Executive Job Market in Italy - Past, Present and Future

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BlueSteps recently asked AESC member, Mario Ceretti, Regional Director of Southern Europe, TRANSEARCH International, to answer a few questions about the past, present and future of the executive job market in Italy.

BlueSteps: What happened to the executive search market in Italy during the global crisis of 2008 - 2009?

Mario Ceretti: The market for executive job opportunities in the period between late summer of 2008 and the end of 2009 was affected by a deep crisis that hit all functions and industries across all western economies. Only countries such as India, China and Brazil have been partially removed from this very negative situation.

The global recession triggered by the "credit crunch" has been amplified in Italy from problems that have affected the executive job market for many years; the non-liberalization of many sectors of the economy, limited international competitiveness of enterprises, the widespread stunting of national companies, a lack of innovative capacity, and finally, the problem of borrowing from the bank as the main source of funding.

During this recessionary period, the fear and uncertainty of the duration of the crisis led almost all traders to focus on designing programs that searched for efficiency savings, implementing widespread programs that blocked organizational development and the renewal / development of their management teams. Only companies with strong fundamentals and an awareness of its competitive position globally escaped the worst of these cutbacks.

A few brave organizations, or because operations could not possibly do without it, proceeded to hire for new managerial executive jobs. They found a rich market with a more than usual supply of talented executives and benefited from reaching these highly skilled managers directly through the development of the rapidly evolving social networks, and through the renewed system of word of mouth.

It is worth considering that even private equity funds, a historically strong market for the creation of new executive jobs in Italy, has heavily reduced its presence in the executive recruitment market.

Speaking of the prevalence of certain industry or functional executive searches over others is likely to be somewhat misleading in a market that, viewed from the perspective of many executive search firms operating in Italy, has seen demand decline by 40%.

BlueSteps: How is the Italian executive recruitment market performing today?
MC: Since the latter months of 2009, the economic and financial measures taken by governments of almost all the major financial centers worldwide have strengthened the confidence among economic agents and led organizations to consider how to re-align the organization to new scenarios. However, these scenarios soon proved to be far from defined, as we learnt from the sharp devaluation of the euro due to widespread and repeated bad news from the state of public finances in many European countries, suggesting that the worst is not yet past. Once again, only economies such as China, India and Brazil seem not to suffer everything, marking exceptional growth rates (Brazil is predicted at 6% GDP growth for 2010 and 2.5 million jobs).

In this framework, many companies seem to believe that they should not be discouraged by market forces and proceed to make selective managerial appointments that are not only needed to manage the present but also to prepare for the stable phase of recovery that everyone hopes will be found in the medium term through all the micro and macro-economic indicators.

Due to increased confidence in the markets, the first six months of 2010 saw Italy increase the number of requests for qualified senior management executives. The amount of new executive jobs are in line with the trend recorded in all western economies that spread across all sectors and functions of the trade matrix.

BlueSteps: What is the executive job outlook in Italy for the second half of 2010?
MC: What will not change soon in Italy is the inadequacy of the country to quickly provide their workers with a greater competitive advantage and therefore an acceleration of development. For example, the established practice of early retirement is still only used to lighten the economic accounts of enterprises and not benefit executives. This continues to be an inevitable spillover effect in relation to the number of new executive job opportunities that the market is creating.

It is for this reason that we recommend anyone who has had significant international work experience and geographical mobility, to open as many "windows" internationally that are not available in Italy - Italian management is often highly valued abroad.

For those who are unable to relocate, and until the recovery takes place and the economy reaches stability, it should be noted that only a small percentage of new executive job opportunities are managed by executive search professionals. Therefore, it is essential for each executive to analyze and develop their network in parallel with that of the executive recruiters.

Further reading: Learn about the rising Brazilian executive job market or the more troubled Spanish Executive Job Market.

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