Executive recruiters spent the better part of last year resetting expectations – the result of an unprecedented, and completely unexpected, interruption to their business due to COVID-19. But according to search professionals across the spectrum, that disruption has now receded, and business is returning to levels not seen since the waning days of 2019 and first two months of 2020. It is a significant turnaround for a sector that had put itself on pause last spring.
Many executive search firms struggled in 2020. According to the latest Hunt Scanlon Mediasurvey of executive search firms, 29 recruiting providers among the research firm’s ‘Top 50’ – nearly 60 percent – reported declining revenues last year. Each of the five leading SHREK firms reported business declines, with Korn Ferry reporting the steepest dip at 15 percent. That was followed by Heidrick & Struggles, down 13 percent; Russell Reynolds Associates, down eight percent; Spencer Stuart, down seven percent; and Egon Zehnder, which was down three percent. Globally for these top talent providers, the picture was not much better