According to IBISWorld, the market for executive search recruiters has grown by an average of 1.2% annually since 2018 and will approach $9b this year.

The rise of executive search won’t make headlines, but the slow-but-steady growth does point to its ongoing importance. 

In a down economy, the level of importance goes up a notch (or ten).

Here’s what you can do to ensure you hire the right executive in a down economy. 

Target the Right People

Executives, including chief executive officers (CEO), chief financial officers (CFO), and chief technology officers (CTO), are the glue that holds your company together. They’re also the driving force behind innovation and growth.

Conventional wisdom is that you should hire executives as quickly as possible; in the fast-moving technology market, you can’t afford the downtime that comes with a vacant seat in the boardroom.

Still, you’d be wise to pump the brakes on any rash hiring decisions and develop a targeting strategy that narrows your sights on right-fit candidates. 

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Where do you want this executive to live? 
  • What’s the minimum working experience you’d consider? For example, would you interview someone looking for their first executive role?
  • Which industries or companies do you prefer they come from? 
  • Are specific soft skills essential?  
  • Do the candidates need experience managing a remote- or hybrid-first workforce?

If you’re tasking your HR team and other executive members with the search, this structure will maximize their time and shorten the time-to-hire.

If you’re working with a staffing and recruiting agency, the structure will help them identify the right-fit candidates in their talent pool and enable them to meet your needs. The efficiencies can also reduce the cost of outsourcing your executive search since the agency will likely spend fewer resources finding the perfect candidate. 

Provide Transparency 

For better or worse, many client-vendor relationships are shrouded in darkness; the old-school advertising industry is a good example.

Before self-service ad tools, advertisers were largely in the dark about ad placement and performance.

The lack of transparency and communication strained the relationship and prevented both parties from realizing their full potential.

The same outcome is unavoidable if you don’t insist on transparency with your executive retained search agency or other parties, including internal ones, involved in your search.

  • What’s your timeline? 
  • What does the hiring process look like?  
  • How are they narrowing down their search? 
  • How have they helped similar companies successfully hire executives? 
  • How long have those executives stayed at the company, and have they been successful? 

If you insist on this level of transparency and compound its impact with a candidate-targeting strategy, it won’t be long before you bring right-fit executive candidates to the table. 

Do Your Research 

What do you do when you want to take your product to the next level or are trying to identify a pivot that’ll help you make up for lost demand during a down economy? 


Why would you hire an executive, especially given the state of the economy, without doing your due diligence?

As you’re looking for your next executive—or working with a staffing and recruiting agency to help you find one—take the time to analyze the market.

  • Who’s leading your competitors? What traits do those executives have? 
  • What does the average executive in your industry make? 
  • What’s the average tenure of similar roles? 
  • Which executive titles are industry players prioritizing? Have they added a new one, like a chief customer officer (CCO)?  

Hiring the right executive is about more than finding as many bodies to interview as possible. The most successful executive searches involve a whole lot of digging into the details you need to find that person just right for the job. 

There’s Never Been a Better Time to Hire an Executive 

Mass layoffs from Meta, Amazon, and other big names tell a gloomy story. 

Ongoing fears of a recession are adding to that narrative.

Is there some weight behind that narrative? Yes. 

Are the recession fears warranted? Of course. 

But many companies, especially those outside the business world’s “golden circle,” are finding 2023 an opportune time to swoop and hire right-fit executives who realize there is another side and the grass is green there, too. 

For thousands of companies, now is a once-in-a-career opportunity to recruit and hire top executives. Forward-thinking ones will firmly embrace it and use it as a launchpad to advance their go-to-market strategies. 

Our co-founder, Ed Leva, said it best: “I’ve worked in the staffing and recruiting industry for 30 years, and this is one of the only times small and medium-sized companies have a direct path to acquire talent from enterprise companies like Meta, Amazon, Microsoft, and other notable names.” He continued, “With a fast-acting strategy, companies can swoop in and grab the industry’s best to transform their businesses.

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