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Seller’s Market For Top Executives


Recent studies show that companies in France, Italy and Spain cannot find the right people to meet the growing internationalization of their businesses, whilst 86% of senior executives in the US, Germany and UK consider themselves to be fighting a “war for talent”. Global demand for executive talent has hit record levels:  with senior leaders retiring and international expansion rife, competing firms are raising rewards to secure the services of top performing executives.

According to David Pierce Hallahan, International Director at Team Capital, a firm specializing in the representation of senior management, the executive market has begun to see a return to the war for talent with competing employers raising the stakes to attract star performers.

“We are certainly seeing an increase in executive job transitions and a move by employers to align their compensation practices with a more competitive job market”, comments Hallahan.

“The supply and demand dynamics are showing that the bargaining advantage has shifted considerably in favor of the top candidates, with firms investing heavily in “A” performers and removing those deemed to be “C” performers. At the same time, our clients and other grade “A” executives in the market are increasingly selective with regards to career options and they are equally determined to get their just value”, Hallahan adds.  

This power shift in the market is creating exciting opportunity for top executives seeking to take their career to the next stage. Moreover, with the emergence of executive representation firms such as Team Capital, privately acting on behalf of the individual executive (the opposite to recruiters who despite common misconceptions work on behalf of the company), the best candidates are driving multiple employment offers and are able to pick and choose as they take advantage of the senior talent shortage by holding out until their demands are met.

Nonetheless, executives should keep career ambitions as the number one priority, not purely compensation, warns Hallahan. He comments: “The key focus for the executive needs to be about getting the match right in terms of the role, cultural fit and longer-term potential within the organisation. Senior executives need to seriously consider to what extent they will be able to develop a track record of results within the new firm, prior to accepting any new deal, irrelevant of any salary package on offer”.

Hallahan adds: “Executives have to put themselves into a situation whereby they can look to outperform the market and whilst compensation matters are clearly an essential part of the equation, they must concentrate their efforts beyond this. Think rather about effectively managing your value proposition, hitting well qualified, targeted, ambitious employer firms in your career search and conducting the necessary due diligence on these target firms; that way you will be well positioned to achieve on-going career growth and success. Provided that the latter part of the job search process be handled as tightly as the earlier stages, issues surrounding compensation will fall into place”.

Phillip Thomas Barnes, President of Premier Bathrooms in North America, world leaders in walk in bath technology comments: “I agree with Team Capital’s analysis. I also feel that the type of executive required today is a little different to the executive of yesterday. It is no longer acceptable for an executive to merely do the job. An executive today has to have the ability to take the company into the bigger picture. In seven years of Premier business I liken it to a ten mile race, after seven years I feel we are at the two mile post, I also feel that it is going to take a younger brighter newer executive, not necessarily one that has done it before, to project and recognize full potential and be able to take Premier Bathrooms to the ten mile post.  As important as it is to have experience, knowledge and a successful track record, they need to be able to drive it to the finish line, which in the long term will deliver a personal sense of accomplishment and just rewards”.

On the role of executive representation firms such as Team Capital, Barnes suggests that they will play a key role with respect to the hiring of future executives: “I believe that the promotion of executives is extremely important, these people are the wave of the future”.

Team Capital are looking forward to the forthcoming recruiting season in September and signs are that they will be kept extremely busy marketing their top management clients to high potential firms. Hallahan predicts that employers will continue to place a premium on Grade "A" executives who have the right combination of professional experience, track record of consistent performance, previous upgrades & logical career moves – with education and MBAs, according to Hallahan, considered “an excellent launch pad and basis on which to build”, though he adds: “employers want executives who have been there, done that, and can do it all over again in their firm”.

He further states: “our clients (executives) pay particular attention to the career growth on offer within organizations today; the firm’s brand, reputation and workplace culture are also key attributes we will examine closely. The wrong move is like going off a bridge; in today’s cyberspace, any false career moves will come back to haunt you”.

Hallahan also suggested that executives are increasingly turning down lucrative offers with any company where questionable business practices or high executive turnover issues are evident. He also interestingly remarks:  “Executives need to clearly understand their transferable skills & potential related markets which could exist for them as boards are increasingly favoring individuals with a proven track record and profile that is a fit with pending business challenges which are strategic, leadership and operational rather than purely industry specific”.

With many of the top jobs regularly unadvertised, the role to be played by this new breed of executive representation firm in the hiring process is set to continue it’s strong growth. Top executives are seeking to engage such services, knowing all too well that by gaining exposure and visibility at board level in ambitious, reputable firms, they will gain that extra edge and fuel required to float past other high performers who are relying naively on the hope of being talent spotted by the headhunter.
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