Top Four Trends in Hiring Executive Talent Entering 2024

1. Hire for the future and not the past

The Economist describes the 2022 economy as an era of “predictable unpredictability,” where watershed events can change the game with little forewarning. Most economists predicted a recession in 2023 that never materialized. For 2024, the same theme remains – unpredictability. Past performance will offer analytical insight, but everyone is entering a new era where precedents are not the reliable predictors they once were. When complex systems like the economy or job market bring uncertainty to the business landscape, corporations need to recruit a new generation of leaders who bring fresh, creative, and outside-the-box perspectives to the C-Suite.

Companies and Organizations must prioritize leaders who work and live outside their comfort zone. Adaptability and intellectual curiosity are critical qualities for weathering turbulence and achieving financial, operational, and growth goals.

Where a candidate’s previous experience with your industry, environment, or company size was once a “must have” requirement, this is no longer always the case. Instead, in addition to the characteristics mentioned above, organizations should be evaluating executive candidates on their business acumen with tried-and-true strategies and their history of pioneering an effective plan of attack in novel circumstances.

2. Leaders need to be able to navigate uncertainty

Unpredictability leads to change and turbulence for the candidate market. With an increased turnover and a diversifying C-suite, organizations face unprecedented demand for executive talent—and short supply.

In the wake of the most challenging days of the pandemic, many tenured executives chose to reprioritize their lives, resigning from their positions for retirement, new opportunities, or different lines of work. A Deloitte survey finds that 70% of the C-Suite is considering quitting for a job that better supports their mental well-being. As a result, more organizations need to prepare for succession or backfill positions.

With such high demand, we anticipate seeing more executive teams leveraging their professional networks, exploring alternative options, and turning to trusted executive search professionals to accelerate their hiring timelines.

3. Location, Onsite, and Hybrid

Executives are redefining the workplace of the future. Whether it’s a full return-to-office, remote model, or hybrid approach, business leaders must consider the long-term hiring implications of each and design the right model for their industry, business, culture, and even individual roles.

Two years ago, executives were grappling with answering the location question. Today, they are making decisions and carving go-forward paths. That said, organizations must remain receptive to adapting their work model if necessary, relying on a well-rounded view from the executive team. Here’s just a snapshot of the considerations:

  •   The fixed costs of real estate, leasing, and rising interest rates.
  •   The definitive fabric of the company culture
  •   Employee collaboration and engagement
  •   The ability to attract top talent in your geographic location

Most of these considerations and their subsequent policies will determine the type of candidates you can attract to your business, whether they are required to maintain proximity to an office location or can function from remote offices. A one-size-fits-all approach will NOT work; every model must be tailored to the organization.

4. Top talent is reluctant to take on a new opportunity

Candidates, particularly passive ones, are becoming increasingly selective amid changing market environments. At the executive level, the quality of the opportunity from the standpoint of compensation, benefits packages, growth potential, company, and challenges are critical, as the costs associated with changing jobs are higher in today’s volatile market.

This is where a trusted executive recruiter can add a lot of value, shaping the perception of candidates and aligning a company’s value proposition with a candidate’s goals and requirements. A well-seasoned executive recruiter knows how to truly partner with organizations and candidates to ensure the best possible outcome for both, marrying together their mutual long-term success.

In this current market, many companies are having difficulty “closing the deal” on their own. Even organizations with robust, experienced internal recruiting teams are facing a great deal of unexpected occurrences and surprises coming up during (and after) the offer process (e.g., extensive negotiations, counteroffers, etc.). These dynamics can be extremely challenging to navigate and once again highlight how a seasoned executive search firm can add value, helping the C-Suite to scale despite the challenges of today’s market and the unprecedented future.

The intense competition for executive talent in today’s market has exploited another facet of the executive hiring process – the treacherous time between the offer and the start date. While losing a candidate to a last-minute competing offer was not previously unheard of, the frequency and aggressiveness of incidents happening in today’s market require CEOs, Boards, and hiring teams to respond strategically to compete.

With more executive job openings than qualified candidates, the fight for top talent is at an all-time high. As a result, competing offers and counteroffers are the norm. When strong talent becomes active in the market– employers, investors, and CEOs are ready to employ tactics necessary to prevail. This executive tug-of-war has become all too common and typically initiates on or around the time of an offer, acceptance, or resignation.

Previously, the time between offer and acceptance may rightfully have been the time for CEOs to celebrate and focus on other strategic initiatives. In today’s market, this phase has become one of the most arduous and competitive parts of bringing top executive talent onto the team.

To best mitigate risk, CEOs and hiring teams must change their mindset. Know the fight is still looming, understand how risks may manifest themselves within the hiring process, and deploy thoughtful, proactive tactics to meet the demands of today’s talent market.


Jeff Harvey

Vice President, Executive Search